B2B eCommerce solutions are often marketed as a panacea for B2B distributors and manufacturers, promising an easy-to-use, out-of-the-box solution. However, in many cases, these provide only partial coverage and require third-party services or applications to fill in any gaps – making it more challenging to manage both budgeting expectations and security concerns effectively.
For businesses looking for an Epicor ERP-integrated B2B eCommerce solution, CSX eCommerce from Channel Software and Epicor’s Commerce Connect (ECC) offer eCommerce features that can help streamline your eCommerce operations. This article evaluates their respective capabilities – order and inventory management, catalog management, customer and price segmentation, customer pricing, discount management, product management, billing, payment, and shipping options – allowing you to make a better-informed decision on which platform best meets your business needs.
With the increasing number of B2B eCommerce software providers and vendors in today's market, it is more important than ever for integrations to work seamlessly. Businesses should not only look at their existing partners but also consider new options when seeking out a solution that will best serve them going forward.
Many companies are realizing the benefits of operating without vendor lock-in and using software solutions because of their specialized logic and capabilities. Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC) is an Epicor ecosystem solution developed to complement their enterprise resource planning (ERP) for clients needing B2B eCommerce functionality. If your company uses an Epicor ERP solution, ECC may naturally be on your list of eCommerce software solutions to consider, but it should not be the only option. Companies with eCommerce platforms solely built on the requirements and needs of B2B distributors and manufacturers may offer deeper functionality and ease of use due to their expertise in the market.
The CSX eCommerce platform is purpose-built to streamline B2B eCommerce for distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers. CSX eCommerce is an all-in-one software platform that allows companies to easily integrate with their Epicor ERP system, grow sales, and scale their business with a predictable, annual billing plan. This ensures companies do not have to deal with ad hoc development fees, hidden charges, and third-party management complexity.
Using a fully-integrated, comprehensive eCommerce platform, B2B companies can deliver a modern buying experience for their customers with real-time product information when they need it. The B2B commerce capabilities include a robust eCommerce Product Information Management (PIM) tool, a content management system (CMS), site search functionality, an analytics dashboard, and a mobile app. The eCommerce solution integrates with a variety of backend systems (ERP, CRM, shipping, etc.) to deliver an elegant and easy buying experience for B2B customers.
CSX eCommerce is proprietary software or closed-source software. This means that Channel Software retains the intellectual copyright to the CSX eCommerce software platform and the source code is not allowed to be viewed, copied, modified, or distributed publicly. The capabilities of the CSX eCommerce platform are accessed via an annual subscription.
Some of the advantages of proprietary (or closed source) software like CSX eCommerce include:
Epicor Commerce Connect (ECC) is an eCommerce solution designed to facilitate customer orders. ECC is built on an open-source version of Adobe Magento. Because it is an Epicor software product, it is pre-integrated with their ERP products including Eclipse, Kinetic, Vision, and Prophet 21.
Built upon Magento, Epicor Commerce Connect was designed to support the needs of businesses that sell a relatively small product catalog. Commerce Connect offers a straightforward digital storefront with basic eCommerce capabilities and backend integration. It was not originally designed to efficiently handle thousands or hundreds of thousands of products like the catalogs of North American distributors and manufacturers. The majority of these B2B businesses have complicated rules and protocols for ordering, processing, shipping, and delivery. Expanding the functionality of Epicor Commerce Connect necessitates third-party programming to achieve specific B2B eCommerce customer requirements, and in some cases, it may not even be possible.
Using an eCommerce solution built using open source software involves risks. These risks include lack of software quality due to poor developer expertise and coding practices, long-term sustainability due to lack of maintenance, software licensing issues, copyright infringement, software security flaws, and lack of dedicated support. Additional issues with open source software like Adobe Commerce/Magento point to multiple vulnerabilities that can potentially harm businesses. Recent vulnerabilities have led to remote code execution allowing attackers to run arbitrary code on a remote machine, connecting to it over public or private networks. These vulnerabilities negatively affected businesses of all sizes with medium and large businesses being most exposed to risk.
While there are benefits to open source software, it is important for a business to understand the risks. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
One of the purported advantages is that Epicor Commerce Connect is ready for instant integration with other Epicor software products. Customers have stated that the nature of this turnkey solution limits its functional capabilities for the complex requirements and processes inherent in the B2B distribution and manufacturing business. While turnkey solutions can reduce the time, investment, and resources related to software projects, the downside remains that they often limit the platform with highly templated designs and limited or restricted functionality with little flexibility for the complex business requirements and processes that are fundamental to the B2B industrial category.
Companies have reported that the feature set of Commerce Connect is more limited than originally understood and some limitations were not explicitly clear when they were researching the solution’s capabilities. The top frustration is that it fell short of a comprehensive solution for distribution and manufacturing companies with more complex B2B eCommerce requirements and processes. These limitations have reportedly cost companies thousands of additional dollars, time, and frustration with their customers and own employees.
Additional constraints of Epicor Commerce Connect that were cited include minimal design themes, limited search configuration options, inadequate product configuration options, minimal to no support languages, and data import limitations.
Consider the fit of Epicor Commerce Connect for your eCommerce business requirements by examining all solution features and contract details carefully. Ensure it meets both your expectations and future needs, to get the most out of this B2B eCommerce platform. Also, while evaluating Commerce Connect, note the functions and features that you require may or may not be included in the subscription level. Some items may require additional professional service at additional costs to implement and configure.
A modern B2B eCommerce platform should (a) consolidate and simplify the management of your online commerce sales, (b) increase team and operational efficiency, (c) provide customer order information, customer analytics and sales data, and (d) scale with your company growth.
While the initial cost may be tempting with open source software, customizing, or maintaining this type of solution without technical expertise can quickly add up - not including any third-party support you’ll need to source as you go. It's important to weigh up both sides when making your decision. Proprietary software can often be seen as more secure, given that the source code is exclusively maintained by its parent company. On the flip side, open source software's freely available source code could leave it exposed to malicious users.
Investing in proprietary software can bring a variety of long-term benefits. From comprehensive customer support to regular updates that keep your eCommerce platform running smoothly and securely. Depending on the solution, proprietary software may require a larger upfront cost, yet over time, the software company oversees maintaining and enhancing it. Distributors and manufacturers can concentrate on making effective use of the eCommerce software without having to worry about its maintenance and security updates. This represents significant savings over multiple years, let alone worries, headaches and lost productivity.
Below, read how CSX eCommerce and Epicor Commerce Connect compare across some of the most important B2B eCommerce capabilities.
The technical experts at Channel Software routinely manage migrations from other eCommerce systems. With over 20 years of dedicated experience, knowledge and expertise of eCommerce migrations, your business can rest assured that you’ll experience a smooth transition with minimal (if any) downtime. From the start, we work with your team to build a modern B2B eCommerce website that is designed to easily integrate, scale, and grow your distribution or manufacturing business.
Below is a look at our proven phased approach for switching.
ERP and eCommerce integration is more than just a one-time investment - it provides ongoing, long-term benefits that can help your business become agile and responsive. Operating in the modern world requires organizations to leverage multiple sales channels; whether through their own eCommerce store or leveraging online marketplaces and physical outlets for greater reach within key markets.
Partnering with an eCommerce expert that thoroughly understands Epicor ERP system integration and complex industrial industry requirements gives you and your customers multiple benefits. Learn more about eCommerce / ERP integration here.
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