IBM WebSphere Commerce Review

ibm-websphere-review-logoInterested in creating an online store or migrating your current store to a new platform? This unbiased IBM WebSphere Commerce review will help you learn the fundamentals of the platform, as well as your store’s fit with its features and functionalities.

Want to know how other platforms measure up? See our full list of ecommerce platform reviews here.

IBM WebSphere Review: What kind of merchant should use the IBM WebSphere platform?

IBM WebSphere Commerce is an ecommerce platform that offers multi-channel selling for B2B, B2C and B2B2C companies. It allows for web, mobile, social, call center, and in-store functionality, and lets users control all channels from one central admin platform. It’s currently offered in three deployment forms: Software as a Service, cloud implementation, or on-premises. IBM allows customers to transition between these three methods easily as their businesses grow and change.

In addition to the three deployment methods, there are also three unique WebSphere Commerce products, each aimed at a different target audience. The “Express” package is designed for fast, easy implementation and is considered a “starter store,” of sorts. The “Professional” package is aimed at midsized companies, and the “Enterprise” package is designed for high-volume B2C and B2B retailers with multiple websites on the docket.

IBM WebSphere Commerce distinguishes itself from other ecommerce platforms by integrating a number of selling channels and allowing the user to control them from one single admin area. WebSphere’s features are aimed towards delivering a personalized shopping experience that speaks to your customers’ needs, increases their brand loyalty, and improves your sales simultaneously.

Unfortunately, WebSphere’s pricing structure is somewhat confusing. Not only do you have to pay a licensing and subscription fee (the subscription is annual); you also have to pay a set fee per PVU, or processor value unit. The PVU is the number of units within the operating system that will be hosting the WebSphere software. Typically, this number can fluctuate anywhere from 30 to a few hundred, depending on the brand you have.

For the Express package, you’re looking at $5,030 cost for the user license and subscription fee. In addition to that, you’ll need to pay $327 per PVU. Let’s say you have an IBM Power Systems core with a Linux operating system, which clocks in at 70 PVUS. In this scenario, your PVU fees would come in at a total cost of $22,890. Add that to the licensing fee, and you’re at just around $28,000 (for 1 year).

If you want the Enterprise package, you’ll pay $15,700 for a 25-store license and subscription or $20,800 for a 10-user license, whichever serves your company best. Then, on the PVU side, you’ll owe $1,990 per PVU. If we use the previous example, Enterprise would run you between $139,300 and $160, 730 per year. For the Professional package, the prices continue to climb. You’ll pay $15,700 for a 25-store license or $23,300 for a 10-user one, plus $1,230 per PVU. In total, that comes out to $101,800 or $162,600.

Ideal for: High-volume, enterprise-level sellers with a B&M presence and those primed to take advantage of its multi-site, multi-channel functionality.

Good IBM WebSphere Commerce Features

Positive IBM Websphere FeaturesFeature Grade
Built-in, responsive mobile storeA
Offers various selling opportunities, such as in-store, social media commerce, and call centerA+
Allows for targeted offers and customized promotionsA
Includes tools to optimize selling based on trigger events, like cart abandonment, social media participation, and mobile device locationA+
Ability to handle multiple websites or microsites from one platformA
Offers prebuilt storefronts to cut down time-to-launchA+
Includes various technology support wizards to help non-IT personnel navigate processes and set-upA
Easy social media integration: built-in like and share buttons on all homepages and product pages ; automatic social site bridging allows Facebook members to see any products' ratings, reviews, and other content created by their friendsA

ecommerce-platform-comparison-migration-guidebook

Bad IBM WebSphere Commerce features

Negative IBM Websphere FeaturesFeature Grade
High cost, regardless of which package you choose; Pricing is confusing, based on a combination of PVUs, licensing and subscription feesD
Only a handful of prebuilt storefronts are available, so if you want it to look truly custom, you’ll need a programmer (added cost)C+
Many of the platform’s key features aren’t available in the Express package, including cross-channel processing and targeted marketingC

You can view many of Websphere Commerce’s features here.

Notable IBM Websphere Commerce Websites:

Staples

David’s Bridal

1-800 Flowers

IBM WebSphere Review: Bottom Line

The IBM WebSphere Commerce platform offers a number of features that could be a real game-changer for a retailer. Reviewing it gave me the feeling that the IBM Websphere Commerce was designed by a conglomerate of the some of the most brilliant tech-nerds in the world because of the sophistication of many of their retail features. Unfortunately, many of these features aren’t available with the platform’s most basic (and most affordable) product, WebSphere Commerce Express. Only Demandware, another enterprise-level solution, compares to the sophistication of WebSphere.

Because of this, WebSphere is best suited for enterprise-level retailers with a B&M presence who can take advantage of the platform’s Enterprise or Professional packages.

IBM Websphere Commerce Ecommerce Platform Comparison Grade: A

How do you think this shopping cart stacks up against the rest? Have your voice be heard and your opinion known! Email jon@cpcstrategy.com and request to have your experience be part of this IBM WebSphere Commerce Review.

View the master list of our ecommerce platform comparison to make the most informed choice when choosing your ecommerce platform software.

 
*Note: Grades are subjectively based on analysis and comparison to other ecommerce platforms, based on availability, significance, and functionality of the platform feature and overall value.

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About the AuthorJon Gregoire is the Director of Demand Generation at CPC Strategy. Jon heads up email marketing, content strategy, co-marketing, and revenue cycle efficiency. A UC San Diego grad, Jon is a Chicago native and full-time San Diego tourist. He enjoys Bear Grylls-like backpacking trips, archery, weekend getaways in Southern California, watching his beloved Chicago Bears, and bidaily coffee consumption. Want to pitch a story? Reach out directly at jon(at)cpcstrategy.com. See all posts by this author here.