The limitations of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, Forrester’s Wave and similar market research offerings have inspired Paradigm B2B to launch a series of reports called Combine that break down the merits of e-commerce applications for enterprise and mid-market buyers.
Chicago-based Paradigm B2B, which released its first two Combine reports last week, said the research also drew upon the process that pro sports leagues use to evaluate the various skills of prospective draft candidates. E-commerce vendors, who cannot pay to be featured, are scored in a one to five scale across 36 criteria including total cost of ownership (TCO) and “voice of the customer” via market feedback that Paradigm B2B gathered directly from dozens of vendor partners and clients.
According to Andy Hoar, a onetime Forrester analyst and principal of Paradigm B2B, the Combine reports are intended to avoid having vendors “force ranked” based on a composite score that may be meaningless to many buyers.
“You’re essentially cramming everyone into a two by two box,” Hoar told B2B News Network, referring to traditional areas of Magic Quadrants and Wave reports that describe vendors as leaders or niche players. “The classic quadrants upper right and lower left, and if you’re not there, you’re screwed.”
Instead, the Combine reports group B2B e-commerce vendors into “Exceptional,” “Superior” and “Differentiated based upon particular criteria rather than an overall rating. Sana Commerce was in the “Exceptional” area for TCO, for example, while Adobe’s Magento was singled out in the “Differentiated” area.
Hoar said it was important for Paradigm B2B to develop distinct Enterprise and Mid-Market Combine reports because of the differences in how particular segments were approaching the classic debate of opting for “best of breed” or “best of suite” vendors. In other words, some vendors have superior point solutions while others have a strong all-in-one portfolio of tools.
A mid-market firm, for instance, may not take advance of microservices and APIs to tailor a particular best-of-breed product because it’s not yet making enough e-commerce revenue yet, he said. In the enterprise, it’s almost the opposite situation as buyers need to know they’re working with firms with the appropriately-sized ecosystems, with partner networks and other resources they can draw upon.
“It could be something as mundane as working with a company that can afford to wait to be paid 180 days without closing down or laying people off,” he said.
The level of consolidation happening within B2B e-commerce and similar application segments makes having such guidance all the more important now, Hoar added.
“I think that what this is doing is forcing companies to think twice about who they partner with. At some point, they’re going to wake up and their entire organization is going to run on one or two companies,” he said.
“At that point, you’re not dictating terms as the customer, you’re having the terms dictated to you.”
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