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A Fair Review of the Top Mid-Market CMS for 2020 — Bloomreach

Gary Eisenstein

By Gary Eisenstein

January 16, 2020

Corporate Name: BloomReach Inc. Web: www.bloomreach.com
Founded: 2009 Get in Touch: 1-888-263-3917
Corporate Office: Mountain View, California Worldwide Locations: 6
CEO:  Raj De Datta — Since 2009 Worldwide Employees: 250
Platform Type: Java Current Version: 14
Licensing Model: Subscription-based Licensing Cost: By Request
Support: Service Level Agreement  GitHub Account: www.github.com/bloomreach
Trial (Sandbox) Version: By Request Online Demo: By Request
North America Service Partners: 28-plus Certified Global Service Partners: 61-plus Certified

Bloomreach helps companies around the world move fast to create, measure, scale, and continuously improve the customer experience. Bloomreach believes velocity comes from the ability to adapt quickly to the next touchpoints, channels, and expectations so we’ve designed our AI-driven search and merchandising tools, next-gen content management system, and digital experience platform architecture to be the most flexible on the market.

Bloomreach software enables highly personalized digital experiences for retailers, brands, distributors, manufacturers, and a diverse set of businesses and organizations around the world. Its flagship product, brX, is an API-first digital experience cloud that combines AI-driven search and merchandising, rich personalization, and next-gen Content-as-a-Service (CMS) capabilities. brX accelerates conversions, increases revenue, and provides real-time insights for business goals. Bloomreach Experience Manager (brXM) is an open and flexible CMS designed for developers and marketers. As the original headless CMS, brXM allows developers to build quickly and integrate with the systems. While it’s built for speed, it also provides top-notch personalization and channel management capabilities for marketers to drive results. 

HISTORY

Bloomreach was founded by Raj De Datta and former Google Search Engineer, Ashutosh Garg, with the idea that every online experience could be vastly improved if they were catered to the specific needs and interests of the individual customer - all powered by smart algorithms that got smarter every day. In 2012, they launched the first Bloomreach product, which uses smart algorithms that understand the language customers use to search and helps businesses automatically deliver landing pages that match the searcher’s intent - and rise to the top of search engine results. In 2016, Bloomreach joined forces with Hippo, a leading open-source Web Content Management company, to create the first digital experience platform that combines content, search, and merchandising. 

“In 2016, the company wanted to expand its commerce offering to more of a commerce DXP offering, so we acquired a company called Hippo, which had a WCM offering called Hippo CMS, which is how I came into the organization. Hippo was traditionally a headless system back in the 2000s and started adding delivery technology tier, around 2010, with the capability to manage those experiences using our experience manager”, stated Arjé Cahn, Chief Product Officer at Bloomreach. 

Hippo had personalization, A/B testing, and other features you would expect from a modern-day WCM. But, there was a desire to use AI optimization to drive some of that personalization instead of having to put in certain types of rules to apply personalization. So, Hippo decided to join forces with a search technology vendor from Mountain View, and together they build out the WCM and search offering, later merging them as one DXP. The Bloomreach DXP, which is called brX, is an experience platform that integrates with any existing commerce vendor.

“Personalization is a primary feature for us, specifically, because of our integration with search. With the search capability and the personalized search capability, we can help our customers provide a flexible platform that allows their customers to find the content and information they need,” said Arjé.

KEY CAPABILITIES

Bloomreach Experience Manager (brXM), uses Java as the programming language. In all layers of its architecture, open and extensible APIs are available for integrating brXM into your existing application architecture. brXM has a practical yet powerful UI for managing complex multisite, multilingual sites, projects and campaigns. The API-driven, standards-based and open architecture of brXM enables a wide array of content delivery options for multichannel digital experience scenarios.

Arjé added, “Our customers use our WCM component because it allows them to build modern-day experiences using new kinds of client site technologies, specifically JavaScript, where they use our APIs to build those experiences and to feed them with content to use our search engine as part of those experiences, and to use them to drive omnichannel experiences across all of the many different devices that they want to target. That's the core of the platform.”

Key features and functionalities include:

  • Customizable REST APIs
  • Single Page Applications
  • Headless & Hybrid Deployment
  • AI-driven Site Search
  • Personalization & Channel Management
  • Highly Scalable Architecture
  • Platform-as-a-Service Deployment
  • Utilizes Docker Container Orchestration
  • Marketing & Merchandising Tools
  • OOB Privacy & Compliance Standards
 

ECOMMERCE CAPABILITIES

Bloomreach Experience Cloud (brX) is built specifically to deliver best-in-class B2B and B2C commerce experiences. It is one of the only solutions that combines a modern, API-first ‘headless’ experience solution with intelligence-infused personalization and optimization technology to enable you to deliver relevant, contextual, and consistent product and content experiences to your customer across all the sites, apps, and other touchpoints they interact with. It includes intuitive business tooling for marketers and merchandisers, along with real-time APIs that algorithmically drive the best experiences and business results.

According to Arjé, “We have a very strong background in commerce around SEO optimization as well as search. Our approach to commerce is that we work together with a headless commerce vendor, such as commercetools, Elastic Path, or increasingly SAP Hybris, and the new versions of Salesforce B2C and B2B.”

Key eCommerce features and functionalities include:

  • Headless Commerce 
  • Intuitive Marketing & Merchandising Tools
  • Framework Agnostic REST API
  • React & Agular SDK
  • Cloud Deployment
  • AI-powered Search
  • Personalization & Optimization
  • In-context Editing
  • Omnichannel Experience Management
  • Bloomreach Starter-Stores
 

DIGITAL EXPERIENCE CAPABILITIES

The Bloomreach DXP is a product that they are taking to market primarily for eCommerce customers. Although Bloomreach is looking to expand that into other verticals, their Bloomreach Experience Cloud (brX) combined with the Bloomreach Experience Managers (brXM) is their DXP offering, for eCommerce, which includes Bloomreach’s web content management, experience management, and search technology, as well as SEO technology.

Key DXP features and functionalities include:

  • Experience Cloud (brX)
  • Experience Managers (brXM)
  • Search & Merchandising (brSM)
  • Headless & Hybrid Deployment
  • AI-driven Site Search
  • Cloud Deployment
  • Personalization & Channel Management
  • Platform-as-a-Service Deployment
  • Privacy & Compliance Standards
  • Omni-channel Experience Management
 

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS

Bloomreach has a healthy lineup of technology partners to help their customers deal with existing enterprise architecture. Rather than trying to be a solution for everything, Experience Manager is designed to be the web content management piece that fits into a wide variety of existing solutions.

Bloomreach's technology partners include:

  • Sitemorse (Quality Control)
  • BigCommerce (Commerce Solution)
  • Google Analytics (Analytics Measurement)
  • SAP Commerce Cloud
  • Elastic Path (Commerce Solution)
  • Translations.com (Globalization Tool)
  • Salesforce B2B & B2C Commerce
  • customQuake (Single Sign-On)
  • commercetools  (Commerce Solution)
  • Bynder (DAM Solution)
 

STRENGTHS

Bloomreach's Point of View

The strengths of Bloomreach’s WCM offering are the flexibility and the agility of the WCM system, the fact that Bloomreach has robust integrations with eCommerce systems, as well as search technologies specifically for eCommerce. Then the personalization capability, which includes our known customer personalization, as well as unknown machine learning optimized personalization. And finally, the API enablement of those features mentioned.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"BloomReach Experience Manager (brXM) is a powerful enterprise-class platform that provides robust content management capabilities, as well as a full arsenal of marketing tools – including personalization, A/B testing, multi-site management, and in-context preview – to fully empower marketing teams."

"Built upon an open framework and around open standards, the platform is uniquely structured to support agile methodologies and is easily integrated with other technologies. Additionally, the platform maintains a flexible architecture, enabling businesses (and partners) to craft highly impactful solutions that cater to the most unique business needs." 

"BloomReach has also been quick to adapt brXM to the most prevalent industry trends, ensuring that the platform can be implemented in a variety of models, including headless, and that play nicely with Single Page Applications (SPAs). Through this advancement, the platform allows a business to leverage the most modern frameworks, like Angular and React, to create best-in-class experiences, while preserving the marketing and content management functionality that makes it an industry leader, year-after-year." 

WEAKNESSES

Bloomreach's Point of View

One weakness for Bloomreach is that they don't have the same richness in feature-set as some of their competitors [such as Adobe]. However, Bloomreach believes that there is value in simplicity, in terms of usability, and offering maximum flexibility and integration capability.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"Product Integration: BloomReach is still in the process of fully integrating their commerce-based Search and Merchandising (brSM) platform with BloomReach Experience Manager (brXM). While the combined offering has demonstrated immense value for a number of customers, the transition to a unified UI will make the solution even more powerful for business and marketing teams, and further infuse speed, agility and operational efficiency into marketing practices. Additionally, the fully unified solution will more closely marry experience management controls with AI-powered search, and make it even easier for businesses to create truly compelling and highly relevant customer experiences across the full buyer journey.​"

"Lack of Asset Management: While BloomReach is highly optimized for the delivery of content, it does not have true Digital Asset Management capabilities. Although there is some functionality for uploading assets like images and PDFs, and even searching for them, there is no functionality for archival or auditing, and there is an upper limit to the number of assets that can be stored without degrading performance. This requires organizations to utilize BloomReach alongside 3rd party Digital Asset Management solutions, such as Widen or Bynder, and for which BloomReach provides plugins.​"

"No Real Plugin Community: While BloomReach is highly extendible and has extensive plugin capabilities, there is no true and robust marketplace / community for off-the-shelf or open source plugins. In our experience, extensions are typically handled by the implementation partner or else developed in-house. When developed in-house, these plugins are often kept private and are not shared with the larger user community, meaning that certain functionality will usually require development on a case-by-case basis, rather than through existing plugin installations. While BloomReach continues to grow their collection of plugins (e.g. DAM), the library is still relatively small in its current state.​"

 

"Unenforced Conventions: Opting to maximize flexibility, BloomReach provides general guidelines for how best to use the platform rather than enforcing many standards. As a result, businesses that choose to undertake an implementation in-house may complete development that deviates from accepted best practices, simply because the platform allowed them to do so. This makes it extremely important to partner with a 3rd party agency to support adoption, especially as related to an initial implementation."

KEY DIFFERENTIATORS

Bloomreach's Point of View

Bloomreach is a focused, best-of-breed vendor and that the things they do, they do really well. This includes pure content management, pure experience management, and pure search. Bloomreach prefers to integrate with other commerce platforms instead of offering their own, so basically, they feel they are similar to Adobe in many ways. The difference is that Bloomreach has a best-of-breed mentality.

Implementation Partners' Point of View

"brXM is an enterprise platform designed for the age of content experience."

"In the constant quest to differentiate, speed and agility have emerged as the currency of the era, and the true success factors when it comes to digital experience management. Specifically, the quicker we can develop new assets, and enable marketers to bring new ideas to life, the more creativity can flourish."

"As a notably fast platform – from both a development and experience management perspective – brXM is uniquely positioned to fully empower marketers and even promote more innovation and creativity throughout a brand."

"With the recent release of SPA++, a contributor-friendly SPA integration, brXM enables businesses to easily leverage modern frameworks, like React and Angular, to create a higher level of digital engagement and true differentiation. Through the introduction of SPA++, BloomReach has fundamentally altered the digital experience landscape and made the frameworks on which industry-leading experiences (e.g., Netflix, Google, etc.) more accessible than ever." 

TRAINING & SUPPORT

Bloomreach provides end-user training, as well as developer implementation training on different levels. The training is packed with practical, hands-on exercises, and demos that will help users understand the architecture of Bloomreach Experience Manager next to the theoretical material. Developer training focuses on development techniques, how-to’s and best practices when developing a Bloomreach Experience-based web content management solution and website. Training takes three full days and is hosted on location in Amsterdam. One week after the training, Bloomreach provides the group of trainees with a 1-hour remote session for Q&A. Trainees are offered a chance to become a Certified Bloomreach Developer by taking an online exam. The exam can be taken during a period of four weeks after the training.

Bloomreach’s Issue Resolution & SLA service provides clients with access to support for break/fix cases with a targeted initial response time of 30-minutes for critical issues and 24x7 support for critical impact issues. Also, clients receive Support Portal access for filing tickets, ticket status, resolution times, and notes. In addition, Bloomreach has a Help Center for answers to standard technical and account questions through a knowledge management site.

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER PROCESS

Bloomreach’s implementation partners need to go through a certification process where they have to train a certain number of developers as well as consultants on the products. Bloomreach works closely with its partners based on a system of mutual trust and support. The Bloomreach Partner Program offers three levels of partnership — Silver, Gold, and Platinum — reflecting the partner's depth of technical expertise, training and certification, and business investment. Each level requires investment from partners and Bloomreach.

CUSTOMERS

Worldwide Deployments: 280-plus

Top Market Sectors: 

  • Commerce
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Financial Services
  • Travel
  • Entertainment


Notable Bloomreach Brand-Name Customers:

  • Eddie Bauer
  • Bosch
  • Albertsons
  • Kingfisher
  • Staples
  • Marks & Spencer
  • HellermannTyton
  • HD Supply
  • Puma
  • ING

Customer Comments:

Oscar Araya, VP Information Technology at Beacon Roofing Supply
"We’re using [Bloomreach] as our headless delivery platform. So, we centralized all of our assets there and we serve it through a single page application that we built using Angular and basically Bloomreach is the glue that puts all of the data sources together.”

Ramón Bueno Laya, Head of Enterprise Architecture at Desigual
“[We take an omnichannel approach] to have a unique view of the stock, that way we can offer to our customers every single product wherever the touchpoint that they come to us, whether that’s through desigual.com, brick and mortar, or a department store.”

Sunny Mallavarapu, Digital Transformational Project Manager at Bosch Power Tools
"Bloomreach is our CMS. Bloomreach will support, from a service perspective, CMS-type functions and features throughout the organization. B2C is our focus today, but a feature from a CMS is a feature from a CMS, and we need that at every almost digital touchpoint. This is where Bloomreach will fit in our architecture.”

Brooke Logan, Manager, Project Management (eCommerce) at HD Supply
“We were really interested in bringing very good business to human design into the B2B space, so we really wanted to design a website that anyone could walk up and use and that was going to be delightful and have some really good solid, repeatable experiences. Bloomreach was really a core partner for us in that because using their API architecture we were really able to use those APIs and create an experience on our site that was really just exactly what we wanted.”

 Customer comments and testimonials are all third-party verified

Featured Case Study

How to Manufacture a Better CX Through Headless Commerce

FUTURE ROADMAP

Bloomreach’s roadmap starts with their headless capabilities by adding additional APIs to the set of APIs they already have, according to Arjé. Additionally, they're rolling out an effort to improve the end-user usability of the UI, based on feedback received from customers, and improving the UX capabilities for business, authors, and merchandising end users. Bloomreach’s roadmap will also focus on the expansion of their Starter Stores. Those are out-of-the-box WCM commerce experiences that work with a particular commerce platform such as SAP Hybris, or Salesforce B2C/B2B, commercetools, Elastic Path, and BigCommerce. 

Another one of Bloomreach’s top priorities is to increase its content search capability. “We have existing content search, but we want to expand it as we see an interest from our customers who are asking for more search capability and especially machine learning and curated search capability,” said Arjé. Included on the list of platform enhancements is the recommendations functionality for content, landing page management capabilities, as well as content-to-product relationships.

Arjé also added the importance of focusing on their segmentation capability and CDP [Customer Data Platform] integration. “This allows us to ingest other kinds of customer data that a customer may have sitting in the CRM system in the marketing cloud or elsewhere. We have some of those integrations today, but we're looking to standardize them and offer CDP integration to further advance that feature.”

PERFORMANCE GUIDE

CMS-Connected's performance guide is based on our interviews with the vendor, their implementation and technical partners, customers, and leading industry analysts.

Category Scoring: 5 = Excellent | 4 = Very Good | 3 = Good | 2 = Satisfactory | 1 = Unsatisfactory

Overall Performance Scoring: 57–70 = Excellent | 43–56 = Very Good | 29–42 = Good | 15–28 = Satisfactory | 1–14 = Unsatisfactory

Performance Category Scoring
Strong North American Footprint with a Global Presence 3
Leadership and Positive Industry Recognition 4
Wide Selection of Features and Functionalities 4
Well-defined Differentiators 4
Offers Headless and/or Decoupled Architectures 4
eCommerce Offering 5
Cloud Capabilities 4
Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Offerings 4
Ability to Integrate with Pairing Technologies 4
Stable Platform with an Active Number of Deployments 4
Strong Customer References 4
Presales and Post-sales Support 3
Trained, Certified, and Experienced Implementation Partners 3
Clear and Well-defined Future Roadmap 3
Overall Performance Score — Very Good 53

ANNUAL HOSTED EVENTS

Bloomreach’s annual event is Bloomreach Connect, which brings together digital experience innovators from business, tech, marketing, and merchandising teams to spark cross-departmental collaboration.  Attendees are treated to visionary keynotes, in-depth practical discussions, and globally successful brands sharing their inspiring stories.

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Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 26-years and is a Principal Analyst at CMS-Connected Media Corp. and is the Founder and CEO of Falcon-Software Company. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on how to evolve your digital transformation journey, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cmscmedia.com.

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