Oracle Delivers Commerce Cloud To Ease E-Commerce Deployments

Oracle on Monday launched its new Commerce Cloud, a Software-as-a-Service tool set that solution providers can use to quickly design and deploy customized e-commerce sites for their clients.

The Commerce Cloud, part of Oracle's CX Suite of Customer Experience Solutions that includes marketing, sales and service clouds, was designed to make it easier and faster to stand up online retail that integrates powerful back-end capabilities typically available only to enterprise platforms, said Ian Davis, a senior director of project management at the Redwood City, Calif.-based software giant.

"We're trying to simplify the process that allows our customers to get online as quickly as possible," Davis told CRN. "We've taken a lot of care to make sure the tools are easy to use and there's a lot of commerce functions."

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The e-commerce service culls technology developed in-house with that Oracle acquired in recent years from ATG and Endeca. Commerce Cloud positions Oracle to leverage its massive market reach in competing with Magento and Demandware, two popular e-commerce platforms.

The service, hosted in Oracle's public cloud, stresses making unnecessary any advanced development capabilities or high-end Java skills. With a simplified back-end, cloud solutions can be crafted through a REST API, HTML and JavaScript, Davis said.

Commerce Cloud offers components like a design studio, and tools for end users and partners to develop custom widgets that can be released into the larger ecosystem.

"Partnering opportunities for us are greater than they've ever been," Davis said of the new product, adding that Oracle is starting to see traction with Web-development agencies and digital services vendors.

"We're lowering the bar on the skill set required to work with our customers," Davis said.

Michael Fasosin, director at Spindrift Group, a European digital commerce agency experienced with many e-commerce platforms on the market, told CRN the strength of Oracle's solution is its focus on simplification.

The technology allows solution providers like Spindrift to deploy in a matter of weeks an "enterprise-scale digital experience" for their customers. The company got one recent customer's e-commerce site up in two days, Fasosin said.

"Any small mom-and-pop shop can launch their business and mature. As they grow, they can move up the chain," he said.

And digital agencies can focus on designing a unique and elegant user experience, rather than "getting armies of Java coders to do stuff," Fasosin told CRN.

"It makes us competitive with offshore-based companies," Fasosin said. "I think that's a really radical play, and that will totally change the marketplace over the next few years."

Rohit Garewal, director of strategy at Object Edge, a Web-commerce consultant headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., told CRN that he has been following Oracle's goals in developing the Commerce Cloud for years.

"What is really, really nice for a company like ours, we're able to treat Commerce Cloud as an ecosystem as opposed to a platform," Garewal said.

That means rather than solely using the service to deploy e-commerce websites, Object Edge can create its own tools and use those of other developers to deliver more powerful functionality to clients.

Object Edge has already built e-mail export, OMF and business intelligence tools, he said.

All tools built for the ecosystem have the same repository and APIs, "guaranteeing to the partner that it's going to be the exact same for every customer, and I'm not going to have to modify it customer by customer," Garewal told CRN.

Integrating those back-end capabilities is especially beneficial to midmarket companies, which typically don't have much experience or training around digital marketing, or the budgets of large enterprises.

"It's very quick to stand up Commerce Cloud; however, for companies like ours, the opportunity really lies in that enablement market," Garewal said. "We're able to plug in to that predefined ecosystem."

"It's an open platform, much like Salesforce," he added.

Davis, of Oracle, told CRN that the time is right to bring to market the service. Businesses are finally relaxing concerns about using a SaaS product to host their online retail business -- one of the last use cases to resist a cloud software model, he said.

"It's taken awhile for the market to come up to speed and for people to really trust providers to run their commerce," Davis said.

Now that the market is growing rapidly, Oracle hopes to win not just B2C accounts, but also B2B, a traditional area of strength for the software giant.

"That market is really going to be exploding. It's going to skyrocket in the coming years," Davis told CRN.

And Oracle plans to keep improving and expanding Commerce Cloud.

"We're launching this application now, but the road map is going to be accelerated over the next 12 months with a lot of commerce features and functionality we haven't yet revealed on the backend," Davis said. "So we're going to be rolling new features and functions very rapidly over the next year."