“A bunch of Oracle developers supporting its Commerce systems is being let go as Big Red seeks to downsize the struggling platform,” reads the article in The Register. The Oracle Commerce and Oracle Commerce Cloud developers who have confessed to ‘The Register’ report that they’re scrambling to find new jobs because they’ve “lost faith in Oracle’s commitment to the platforms.”

What happened?

Things looked bright for Oracle when it acquired ATG for $1 billion about 10 years ago. In addition to boasting powerhouse brands like Tesco, Burberry, and Deutsche Bank in its rosters, ATG eCommerce platform nicely complimented Oracle’s CRM, ERP, Retail, and Supply Chain applications, along with its portfolio of middleware and business intelligence technologies. According to the Oracle press release, the acquisition was driven by the convergence of online and offline commerce and sought to serve organizations “looking for unified commerce and CRM platform to provide a seamless experience across all commerce channels.”

The troubles began five years later when the company released Oracle Commerce Cloud to great fanfare. The press swooned, anticipating highly personalized web experience for users. Soon, Oracle Commerce Cloud became the company’s top priority, and Oracle encouraged all of its clients to upgrade. But for the customers who opted not to upgrade, life wasn’t so easy. According to The Register, releases of ATG/Oracle Commerce ceased, and there were no significant upgrades after version 11 of the platform.

Despite the promises, ATG/Oracle Commerce customers didn’t take the bait, opting not to upgrade. As The Register writes, the number of Oracle Commerce Cloud customers “still number in the tens.” The platform never really resonated with the market, and that underperformance has led Oracle to question the wisdom of further investments — thus the layoffs and impending employee attrition.

A Painful Future for Oracle Customers

If you’re an Oracle Commerce Cloud or ATG/Oracle Commerce user, you face a difficult choice. Can you count on Oracle’s continued commitment to the platform you rely on to power your eCommerce business? Even if Oracle ultimately decides to refocus investment in the platform, how quickly can they offer new releases if their top developers left for greener pastures?

The timing of this crisis couldn’t be worse. Due to the pandemic, eCommerce sales are up an astounding 30% in HY 2020. No retailer can afford uncertainty in its eCommerce platform as shoppers migrate en masse from in-store to online shopping. 2020 will be known as The Great Migration for Retail. Every eCommerce operation needs to be firing on all cylinders in order to thrive in this dynamic market.

Add to that, shoppers are fickle, adopting new channels and devices on a whim, and every retailer’s success is hinged upon its eCommerce vendor’s willingness to invest in the platform. If that investment fails to materialize, a retailer can lose customers because its eCommerce platform can’t support the consumer’s channel preferences.

At the same time, business models are rapidly changing. Due to the retail apocalypse — accelerated by the pandemic — manufacturers can no longer count on the retailers who once sold their products directly to customers. According to The Wall Street Journal, some 25,000 retail outlets have closed or will close in 2020, and that’s on top of the nearly 10,000 stores that closed in 2019. For many manufacturers, opening a DTC channel is an essential lifeline.

Take Compaq Industries, a Georgia-based manufacturer of oral and skincare, home, and baby products. According to Dean-Paul Hart, president, Compac Industries, 10 years ago, the company was wholly B2B, with no direct relationships with end-users, but always had plans for a DTC channel in its roadmap. Why? In addition to providing a direct relationship with a customer — and a pool of privacy-compliant first-party data that can be leveraged for marketing purposes — a DTC channel offers insights into the customer’s preferences and goals. For Compaq, the DTC channel is a source of innovation.

But opening a DTC channel is more than developing a B2C site. Manufacturers need new pricing and selling models, as well as the right pick, pack, and ship operations in their warehouses. All of that must be fully integrated with the company’s existing B2B site, order management, inventory management, and customer management systems. What will they do if their eCommerce vendor is no longer investing in its platform? What if they no longer have the support personnel at the vendor’s side to answer questions and troubleshoot? How can they pivot to meet the changing economy?

This is the essential question you must ask yourself if you are an Oracle Commerce Cloud or ATG/Oracle Cloud user. Every answer involves pain. You can opt to stick with your existing platform and hope that Oracle opts to continue investing in the platform (and finds a way to stem developer attrition). But let’s face it: that’s a hope, and hope is not a foundation for building a business. Or, you can migrate to another eCommerce platform, a proposition that is likely to take months and cost well over $250K for a new site, along with all of the backend integrations you’ll need to power your operations. If you do opt to replatform, without a doubt, the top priority is to find an eCommerce provider with staying power so you won’t be in this situation again.

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