Ecommerce platform vendor Elastic Path takes cautious approach as strategic partner Adobe rolls out Commerce Cloud

The announcement that the technology Adobe acquired last year with Magento is now generally available as Adobe Commerce Cloud was a major highlight of Adobe Summit. For Adobe ecommerce vendor partners who have worked with Adobe in this space, the consequences are not yet clear.

Sal Visca, CTO at Elastic Path

LAS VEGAS – One of the major, and expected announcements at the Adobe Summit here was Adobe’s announcement that the commerce platform acquired with Magento last year is now generally available as the Adobe Commerce Cloud, which is now one of the elements of the Adobe Experience Cloud. This announcement produced visible signs of excitement at the event among both Adobe employees and Adobe customers. However, for independent commerce platform vendors who worked closely with Adobe, the arrival of the Magento on the scene complicates things.

One of these strategic vendor partners of Adobe is Elastic Path. Based in Vancouver B.C., they have been in business since 2000. While they are a comparatively small company, they have some very large clients, and are focused on these larger enterprises.

“We created the concept of headless commerce,” where a content management system [CMS] with an API-first approach that is decoupled from the e-commerce system, to manage content without a front-end delivery system,” said Sal Visca, CTO at Elastic Path, who originally came from Business Objects, and joined Elastic Path in 2010.

“We were bootstrapped for 12-13 years, and took a B funding round last year, which is really helping us scale in a big way,” Visca said. “We were originally known as a framework, a strong Java platform, and builders liked that. Competitors said that we were just a framework and not a solution, but that actually helped us. IBM or Oracle were too much of a black box where you had to do things a specific way. People found us on the web and liked our approach. Eventually, as we built out our Cortex access control to mediate APIs, we became a solution.

“We have traditionally been focused on larger enterprises,” Visca indicated. “Our customers are companies doing complex things, who like to separate the core engine from the commerce system, and who use a strong set of APIs who they want to work together.” This includes big telcos, like T-Mobile. Carnival Cruise lines is another prominent lighthouse customer, and their customer list also includes Benjamin Moore, Breville,   LVMH and Swisscom.

Visca said that Elastic Path’s principal competition used to be Hybris, before SAP acquired them.

“They are now seen as more of a Big Box solution,” Visca said. “We had not competed with Demandware much, but since Salesforce bought them, we do come up against them, although they are more midmarket and we go well beyond that.” BigCommerce and Shopify are other competitors.

Elastic Path supplements their go-to-market strategy through a broad variety of channels, including systems integrator, VAR and digital agency partners, ISVs in a variety of areas, including payments, messaging and tax companies, cloud companies, and CMS companies, which include Adobe.

“As we are a more traditional enterprise platform, the system integrators are an important part of our go-to-market, as part of a digital transformation strategy in which the SIs are heavily involved,” Visca said. “I spent part of the day today with HCL and Accenture. While some customers come to us directly, they all have a systems integrator who they work with. System integrators have always been able to resell us, although many customers want to buy direct from the vendor. We are finding more SIs reselling us now.”

Adobe was a major strategic partner for Elastic Path – before last year’s acquisition of Magento.

“We used to partner with Adobe a lot,” Visca said. “Our team used to talk with them daily. Obviously, them buying Magento changes the dynamic, Historically, Magento hasn’t been a strong competitor of ours, because we are larger enterprises, while they have been more midmarket and SMB.”

The catch, Visca acknowledged, is that Adobe didn’t buy Magento to have their new Commerce platform be focused on the midmarket and SMBs.

“Adobe is getting aggressive with Magento,” he said. “As part of Adobe, they are being positioned more upmarket.”

The longer-term implications of this are not yet clear. Adobe has emphasized the importance now of their working with all kinds of partners. Adobe heart Partners buttons were ubiquitous at the event – and not just on Adobe employees.

Visca said that as Elastic Path still aren’t sure how this will all play out, they have chosen to take a cautious position.

“We normally present at this summit, and usually have a booth here,” he said. “We didn’t do either this year, although we are here. We are still part of the community, and the Adobe Exchange program. We still like them. You can’t ignore them, and we have customers who have Adobe product and want to bring in our commerce platform.”

Visca said that the Magento acquisition hasn’t been as big an issue for them as it has been for some of the other commerce vendors.

“Because Magento wasn’t a direct competitor of ours, it wasn’t as big a deal,” he said. “For other players, including the little ones, it has been more of an issue for them. Some of them didn’t even come to the conference at all this year.”

BigCommerce made a major announcement of their own around the event, with the availability of BigCommerce for Adobe Experience Manager. BigCommerce did not actually have a booth at the event this year, however. The new solution was demoed at the booth of TA Digital, the digital agency who co-developed the new solution with BigCommerce.