For B2B and B2C businesses alike, the goals for e-commerce sites are obvious: increased conversions, larger shopping carts at checkout, and an ever-growing audience of repeat customers.
But these outcomes hinge on ensuring a positive customer experience, or CX. To compete in today’s crowded and noisy retail environment, businesses must deploy intelligent e-commerce platforms that can provide a personalized experience relevant to the needs and tastes of consumers.
As businesses consider upgrading their legacy investments in older platforms such as Endeca or ATG (both now part of the Oracle Commerce suite), or investing for the first time in an intelligent e-commerce platform, they must research their options and understand which search applications best align with their business goals.
Endeca Search, now called Oracle Commerce Guided Search, has emerged as one of the best options to achieve the search optimization and personalization that will drive customers to buy more, and to do so more often. Its configurable and extensible dynamic merchandizing abilities put more power in the hands of business users – your organization’s marketers and merchandisers – and eases their dependence on the IT department.
But Endeca Search / Oracle Commerce Guided Search isn’t the only game in town. Another worthy contender is Solr, a fast, open-source enterprise search platform from the Apache Lucene project that is highly reliable, scalable and fault tolerant. Solr powers the search and navigation features of many of the world’s largest websites, and has been paired with many product information management solutions.
How do they compare?
Both Endeca Search and Solr offer the ability to search a product catalog with hundreds of thousands of records in microseconds. Both have additional tools for search, such as faceted search, category-based search (which allows consumers to limit search parameters by choosing specific product attributes) and type-ahead functionality.
But a substantial difference emerges when you look at what comes out of the box.
Endeca offers an out-of-the-box solution toolset that allows business users on the marketing team to take charge without having to rely on the IT department to do heavy lifting. This accelerates time to market, to engage and to convert customers. IT resources are not tied up, and business users can demonstrate ROI much faster.
Solr, on the other hand, may require substantially more custom work by the IT department to achieve benefits similar to those offered by Endeca out-of-the-box.
Although the initial license cost of Solr is less than Endeca, the added development work can quickly erase this cost advantage. While there is a strong open-source community behind Solr, and skilled consultants for hire who can work with a business to get Solr up and running, your IT team will likely have to overcome a steep learning curve to master it if they’re not familiar with the platform. Your business’s marketing team, meanwhile, is left on the sidelines because Solr’s tooling for a business audience is limited.
In this respect, while Solr may be a solid, lower-cost option for internal (or non customer-facing) search, it may not be the best choice for a B2B or B2C e-commerce platform, where rapid and timely orchestration of inspired buying experiences are crucial to providing the positive and personalized customer experience that will drive revenue.
Why? Because Endeca was built from the ground up as an e-commerce platform with an emphasis on CX, whereas Solr is a search engine that was adapted to serve an e-commerce environment.
Other key considerations
Endeca provides, out of the box, faceted search capabilities using categories that yield better personalization and CX, which ultimately improves the odds that a consumer will complete a sale. Solr, out of box, provides only basic search and basic facet capabilities. Anything more requires custom coding that entails developer’s hours, which will add to the initial cost of deployment.
Endeca also scales linearly to handle user load. Scaling in this fashion with Solr is more challenging and may in fact require your business to consider a cloud option.
When it comes to data modeling and data manipulation, Endeca’s suite of tools can be used to transform source data into new records that align with your business goals, more quickly and easily than is possible with Solr.
Endeca also provides an upgrade path to the other toolsets within the Oracle Commerce suite that further enhance personalization and CX, such as Experience Manager. With Oracle Commerce Experience Manager, business users can configuremore intelligent customer experiences with existing data through product spotlighting, personalization and segmentation. With Solr, the above functionality has to be custom built.
Lastly, Endeca features best-in-class support from enterprise vendor Oracle, versus the more fragmented nature of the open-source community that supports Solr.
Is Endeca Search or Solr best for your B2C or B2B e-commerce site? It depends on your business goals, what kind of customer experience will best drive revenue, and whether you are a small, mid-sized or enterprise retailer. If your site’s goal for search is limited to informational outcomes, or you have a tight budget, Solr maybe be your better option. If you require a flexible, scalable and powerful platform that can grow with your online business, and you are ready to invest, Endeca is a good choice.
But consider, too, the ROI. This will, of course, vary from business to business regardless of which platform you choose, depending on your rules and datasets. While the initial licensing cost of a platform such as Endeca will be higher than an open-source option such as Solr, there are additional factors that will impact ROI. Solr will likely require additional heavy lifting by the IT department with the help of outside consultants, and it may not be user friendly for your business users. This may leave your business waiting months to go live and generate a positive return, and dealing with costlier operating, maintenance and upgrade costs over the long run.
At RealDecoy, we have the implementation experience and insight you need to make an informed decision about which search platform is best for your B2B or B2C business. We also understand what it will take to implement a solution, whatever it may be, so your ecommerce site is set up to drive ROI. Contact us to learn more.
Read our “Magic Quadrant” style analysis to learn more about who comes out on top in the search platform showdown.