For a while now, I’ve run into the same question again, and again with a handful of eCommerce companies: “What makes HotWax Commerce different from Magento Enterprise and SAP Hybris Commerce?” It’s not surprising to me that these two particular brands, or companies, have become the benchmark for our product space. We all have commonalities that cater to eCommerce clients, but, more importantly, we have some stark differences that deserve to be highlighted in order to fully understand what an end-to-end commerce platform is all about — or what we like to call Unified Commerce.
Unified Commerce brings together all sales channels (like web / B2B / B2C / phone) AND ERP to one native platform utilizing order management, inventory, warehouse, fulfillment, and several other ERP areas. This is a much more streamlined architecture that uses one shared data set vs. multiple silos of datas. Multiple silos of data from too many software applications or 3rd party extensions / plugins can create unnecessary complexities in a tangled web that leads to scaling bottlenecks and communication breakdowns.
Now back to the comparisons… The most common questions about how these products differ, revolve around end-to-end functionality, or Unified Commerce, licensing structure, and customizability. As there are many comparable differences, I’ll address these three common areas in a general sense below:
While Magento excels in eCommerce site management, its scope falls short of true Unified Commerce. As you move deeper into back office functionality, Magento users are dependant on its marketplace of 3rd party extensions. I see many businesses put a huge effort into their web channel to only neglect back-end functionality and rely on a 3rd party warehouse management system to pick up the slack, hoping that it plays well with what they built on the front-end. Magento licensing is a choose your own adventure type of structure.
Ranging from a free Community Edition open source license to an Enterprise Edition license that has yearly fees and an associated revenue share, it can be considered a true free open source software if you only need basic functionality with the Community Edition or are able to build custom features upon it. Custom development can occur at any point, on any version with the right developer, but keep in mind customization and 3rd party extensions can get messy real quick depending on how deep into ERP functionality you need to go. We’ve also seen some complex custom eCom needs be unattainable based on the non-native architecture of working with 3rd party software and integrations.
Right now, the biggest news with Magento is the sunsetting of any Magento 1 software in 2018. Many companies still don’t recognize the importance of this move but from what I’ve uncovered, it means that Magento will stop providing crucial security updates and ongoing support for merchants running on any version of Magento 1. Out of date software leads to security issues, bug issues, and even lack of PCI compliance, so migrating to Magento 2 (reports show it’s actually a complete replatform with effort and cost) or another solution will be an important task in the next year for many businesses.
SAP Hybris falls squarely into the Unified Commerce realm with its full featured eCommerce and modular ERP options. Options are endless with Hybris, which has the backing of SAP. This can be good and bad, depending on what your needs are… And how much money you’re able to invest in a solution, as they are always on the high side of costs.
Customizations can be achieved but you’re tied to SAP’s rigid standard of complex deployments and the high cost of SAP developers (or partners), that require longer than usual project time frames with bureaucratic red tape and processes. For licensing, you are also tied to SAP’s rules of a closed source system and vendor lock. SAP owns your system with little wiggle room in the process and has lead to complications of deployment and ownerships concerns for some. All and all, if you are running an enterprise scale eCommerce platform, need unified commerce functionality, and can work with high license costs playing by the SAP rules, then this could be a good choice.
HotWax who? That’s right: HotWax Commerce. And what have we even done to deserve being compared to Magento and SAP? With it’s roots deep in the open source world, HotWax Commerce has been evolving for the past eleven years into a true open source Unified Commerce platform that is built upon the top level Apache OFBiz® project (Apache Open For Business). Without going too deep into the history of our mother company, HotWax Systems, there is no other organization in the world that has spent more time working on this specific technology.
Similar to Hybris, HotWax Commerce is a true Unified Commerce platform, but it has a simplified out-of-the-box solution to fit the needs of brand manufacturers, with or without complex commerce needs. Ranging from CMS to OMS to WMS, HotWax Commerce is built upon an open source ERP application development framework, and can be easily customized to achieve specific business processes with our efficient agile development processes. As a shining example of WMS customization, we recently worked on a custom B2B eCommerce project that rerouted after hours US East coast warehouse orders to open US West coast warehouse facilities to ship same day packages for increased efficiency. Dang cool stuff for maximizing the power of your technology..
One of the highlights of HotWax Commerce is its open source Perpetual License option. Sounding like an oxymoron, this style of licensing not only provides usage rights of the software, but allows for control of the source code — hence the open source nature of the product. This is a huge advantage for some businesses by placing their technology expenditures as a capital expense and actually controlling the software long term vs leasing the software. Instead of your software “lease” running out, a perpetual license gives a business the ability to build upon the product for life — BONUS!
So if it’s a standard web storefront that you can invest your own development time into, Magento is a great option with robust eCom specific options. If you have enterprise level eCom needs that intertwine with backend ERP elements, a business would benefit from a Unified Commerce solution. Instead of mixing different eCommerce, ERP, OMS, WMS, CRM, CMS, fulfillment software / extensions / plugin options……….. AARRRR!……. (Now that’s a mouthful of Alphabet Soup), look to simplify your business with Unified Commerce. Hybris always stands as a great Unified Commerce solution but always starts with a million dollar handshake. On the other hand, HotWax Commerce not only provides a robust Unified Commerce solution at a much more affordable rate, but puts the business in the driver’s seat with access to source code, instead of it being a second thought.
Apache OFBiz® is a trademark of Apache Software Foundation.
Ben Johnson is Director of Sales at HotWax Systems. He brings a wealth of knowledge about the outdoor retail market and pro audience programs to the HotWax team. An avid skier, mountain biker and competitive swimmer, Ben loves the Wasatch Mountains and everything this "backyard playground" has to offer.