Home Virto Commerce blog Virto Commerce vs. Optimizely B2B Commerce

Virto Commerce vs. Optimizely B2B Commerce

Jun 27, 2022 • 15 min

I don't know if you would agree, but in my mind, there are three well-known vendors in the .NET eCommerce market. They have been developing solutions based on the Microsoft framework for a dozen years. These companies are Virto Commerce, Optimizely (formerly Episerver), and nopCommerce. 

In a previous blog post, The Most In-Depth Review of Top 2 .NET eCommerce Platforms: Virto Commerce vs. nopCommerce, we broke down the features of two of those platforms, their advantages, and their weaknesses. 

Now let me compare Virto Commerce to Optimizely and, more specifically, the Optimizely B2B Commerce version, since it's a product that targets the B2B sector like Virto Commerce.

The special highlight in the comparative review adds the fact that, at the beginning of its development, both the Virto Commerce and Episerver platforms were developed by the same team. Virto Commerce CEO and founder Alexander Siniouguine was a creator and chief product architect for the first versions of EPiServer Commerce. So if you're looking for an analysis of the development roadmap and key features of the two platforms, look no further, because you're in the right place.

There Is No Way to an Ideal eCommerce, the eCommerce Is the Way

I will refer to the famous saying of Buddha, "There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” Although this relates to a much broader topic, the same can be said about ecommerce. No matter how perfect the solution you build, you will have the road ahead to improve and further develop your ecommerce platform. So first, a few words about the development journey traveled by the Virto and Episerver teams.

The core Virto team (currently named Virto DevLabs) was formed in the early 2000s. From the very beginning, its members were engaged in the custom development of large ecommerce projects. In particular, they made the MediaChase e-Commerce Framework platform, which was bought by Episerver in 2012. In fact, the modern cloud platform for EPiServer Commerce in some parts is still based on the early solutions of the Virto team.

Even though both Virto Commerce and EPiServer Cloud products were created under the same concepts prior to 2011, their approaches to product roadmap development have diverged since then.

Virto’s Product Roadmap — The Bid on Development

Back in 2011, Alexander Siniouguine and the team incorporated Virto Commerce, headquartered in Los Angeles, which had already released version 1.0 of its own platform. Now in 2023, Virto has about 100 employees who work on every continent except Antarctica. Most customers are in Europe and the U.S., with some projects in Asia.

Today, Virto Commerce has a strong product line, including version 3.xx to be hosted in the cloud and on-premises, as well as a ready-to-launch Virto SaaS version, the Virto Marketplace version to create marketplaces, and Virto Start, which features a launch and customization done by Virto Professional Services for clients according to their requirements. 

Episerver — The Wall Street Way

While Virto has been focused on developing its core ecommerce offering without becoming distracted by other business opportunities, Episerver’s strategy has been acquiring companies with pre-built solutions.

Over the past decade, Episerver has acquired almost ten companies that mainly focus on digital content. The Episerver company has been buying up various businesses to strengthen its content-oriented and digital experience. In 2015, they merged with Ektron (development in CMS), then in 2016 acquired Peerius, known for personalizing users' webpages using data analytics techniques.

The acquisition of InsiteCommerce in 2019 strengthened its ecommerce product line, providing the EPiServer Commerce solution with the many marketing tools of InsiteCommerce. Finally, 2021 saw Episerver changing the company name to Optimizely after acquiring this digital experimentation company.

Of course, the Mediachase.com and Episerver.com domains are still alive in the global DNS system, with redirect to Optimizely.com for all of the traffic.

Product Line Consistency for Virto and Optimizely

When you develop products yourself, you have traceability and code inheritance from previous versions to new ones to follow a unified architectural concept. Your key developers work with you for a long time and help newcomers get into the product philosophy to build new versions quickly and effectively. Your product line takes on a tree-like look, where there is a basic product and its versions for special types of customers and those focused on specific industry sectors. This is the path the Virto team has chosen.

Another way, as in the case of Episerver, is to buy software products from the marketplace along with the development teams as a bonus. Your product line starts to look like a bunch of baby cubes from different brands. Instead of cubes, they are actually heterogeneous applications. To make them work together, you have to invent API connectors to pass data from one app to another.

In the case of acquisition, you get an ecosystem of products that likely are strong within their scope and look nice on marketing web pages, but could have limitations when you use them together. For example, there are two Optimizely ecommerce products: B2C Commerce (Episerver develops) and B2B Commerce by Insite (formerly InsiteCommerce). This is not convenient and is economically unjustified, because if you trade in both B2C and B2B segments, you will have to purchase, customize, and support two different ecommerce platforms.

In terms of product development, the consequences for the development team in an acquisition of a company open up both new opportunities and drawbacks. Some developers are forced to leave the company. Therefore, a decrease in the pace of development is inevitable, at least for a transitional period, until the adoption of the frameworks preferred by the new team leaders.

Therefore, the round of competition on consistency of the product line goes to Virto DevLabs.

Digital Experience Software and CMS Are the Strengths of Optimizely

In its early years on the market, Episerver positioned itself as a CMS (content management system) instead of an ecommerce platform vendor. In a lot of reviews, Episerver received tons of positive feedback about its rich CMS functionality. Today, Optimizely calls Episerver’s CMS the “Content Cloud.”

Along with its CMS, Optimizely offers other products to run digital marketing and sales, which they call a DXP (digital experience platform).

  • Asset management is a content management-related functionality for managing digital assets. As with content (which is usually in text form), DXPs serve as a central repository for multimedia assets, including images and video and audio files, which can then be used in various contexts. The cloud infrastructure helps achieve flexible scalability.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In the context of digital assets, DXP tracks customer data to build long-term relationships and create personalized experiences for each customer. All in all, it's just a plain CRM repackaged in a marketing wrapper of buzzwords.
  • Analytics and intelligence. DXP provides analytics and insight into the workflow of user behavior. With technologies like big data analytics and content analytics, digital experience platforms can analyze user behavior in real time and make proactive recommendations for marketers. It sounds nice, although a class of products called a PIM (Product Information Management) has long been on the market for such tasks.
Optimizely DXP

Virto Commerce Responds to Optimizely DXP with Strong Integration Capabilities

Although Virto Commerce does not have its own CMS, CRM, or PIM product lines, the company responds to the Optimizely DXP with a strong ability to integrate similar products from third-party vendors. Virto Commerce has the best integration capabilities on the market, and that's the strength of its ecommerce platform.

Thanks to Virto's composable architecture and its atomic-like structured components, any client-owned or best-in-breed software can be seamlessly integrated into the Virto Commerce platform.

Based on our experience, there are two ways to integrate a CRM, as well as an ERP, PIM, CMS, or any of our customers' other corporate systems, into our platform:

  1. Asynchronous Integration Method
  2. Synchronous Integration Method
In just a few words, the asynchronous integration method uses integration middleware. Virto Commerce contains a copy of the client data, contacts, and other valuable info. This copy provides information on the organization, the clients, and the business API on top of this layer. We use the low-code Azure LogicApps service, which sends data from third-party software to Virto and back again. The second integration method can be used if a customer's software works in real time. A system is considered to be in real time if it processes requests from an ecommerce platform in less than 300 ms, has an API interface, and is a highly available application that runs 24/7 on a server in a data center or on the premises. If these requirements are met, then you can remove the relevant module from Virto Commerce and create a custom module to replace it. Then, this new module in Virto's ecommerce platform will communicate with the customer's CRM (or CMS, PIM, etc.) in real time. The highly skilled team at Virto Commerce can easily replace the native module with a customized one. The new module can also be written by a client-side development team or an independent implementation partner (aka system integrator company). To learn more about integration capabilities, refer to my articles on:  Each approach — having your own CRM, CMS, or PIM or integrating third-party ones — has its strengths and weaknesses. You can decide what you are most comfortable with, but I think Virto’s approach is more flexible, because if you do not like a particular vendor’s application, it can be replaced with any other solution on the market without damaging the main functionality of the ecommerce platform.
Ways of integration with Virto commerce

Technology Stacks for Virto Commerce and Optimizely B2B Commerce

Regarding technology stacks for Virto Commerce and Optimizely B2B Commerce, they both use ASP.NET Core for web storefront. There are some differences in the versions of ASP.NET Core, but they are not fundamental.

The following technologies are used in the development of Virto Commerce.

Back end:

  • .NET Core 6.0 and as a base web API platform
  • EF Core as primary ORM
  • ASP.NET Core Identity for authentication and authorization
  • OpenIddict as OpenID Connect server and for OAuth 2.0 protocol implementation
  • GraphQL
  • SignalR Core for push notifications
  • HangFire for running background tasks
  • Redis as cache backplane on scale-out

Front end:

  • ASP.NET Core 6.0
  • Vue 3.0 – Progressive Java Script framework
  • Tailwind CSS – As main CSS framework for presentation
  • Typescript – All components and composables have type definitions, so IDE can help you build clean working code.
  • Vite – Script and CSS bundler
The Virto Commerce tech stack, by contrast, is an open-source, truly headless, and API-first, modular architecture, highly scalable, high performance, cloud-native ecommerce platform with rich possibilities for extensions. Visit Virto Commerce’s repository in GitHub for more info on the product technology stack. Next are technologies used for Optimizely B2B Commerce:
  • Web platform: ASP.NET Core 5.0
  • Admin: AngularJS
  • Storefront/CMS: React, TypeScript, Redux
  • ORM: Episerver Business Foundation, Episerver Metadata Plus, Entity Framework
  • Supported databases: Microsoft SQL Server
  • Search engine: Elastic Search
  • Caching: Custom implementation
Optimizely B2B Commerce is not open-source, but is still an open platform. Optimizely APIs, integrations, and SDKs with pluggable components give developers sufficient control over the network activity and integration with analytics pipeline, business intelligence, and collaboration tools. To learn more about Optimizely B2B Commerce technologies and architecture, visit their documentation portal. 

Virto Commerce Feature List

Below is the feature list for Virto Commerce:

  • Enterprise-oriented – Ready for all types of ecommerce, regardless of the size of the business
  • Open source/transparency – Transparent code and development processes, an open product community hosted on GitHub
  • Headless – The content presentation layer is separated from the business logic and functional layers.
  • API-driven – All methods are available via REST-API.
  • Modularity – Virto Commerce has a truly modular architecture. Such an approach achieves all the benefits of an agile development process in a multi-dev team environment. This makes feature development and the delivery process much faster, reduces the overall complexity of the system, and as a result, lowers the cost of ownership.
  • Modern – Uses a modern technology stack of ASP.NET Core, EF Core, HTML 5, Elastic Search, Angular, Bootstrap 4.0, and Progressive Web App (PWA).
  • Cloud-oriented – Originally designed and optimized to run in the MS Azure cloud; seamlessly integrates with native cloud services provided by the MS Azure ecosystem.
  • Scalable – By design, supports vertical and horizontal scalability.
  • Extendable – Custom solution development is accomplished without the need for modification of the source code of the platform. There are several extensibility levels, such as the replacement of existing modules, subsystems, or extension of existing functionality. Many subsystems, including catalog management, order management, and others, have a very flexible structure that allows implementation of a broad variety of business requirements.
  • Evolutionary – Designed for evolution with independent feature development and frequent small releases; no monolithic solution with strongly developed CI/CD processes
  • Seamless integration – Allows a new module or feature of an application or hardware to be added or integrated without resulting in any discernable errors or complications.
Virto commerce feature list

Virto Commerce Advantages and Disadvantages

If you run a business and are looking for an efficient way to manage your transactions, then Virto Commerce is the perfect platform. The large number of B2B scenarios and seamless integration with back-office systems make this software extremely versatile. It can be used by businesses ranging from manufacturers to distributors and retailers of enterprise and mid-size levels.

Virto Commerce advantages

  • Modularity – Features are easily extensible or adjusted simply by installing a set of modules. The partners’ and clients’ development teams benefit from the enhanced productivity associated with the harmonious, logically understandable Virto Atomic Architecture™.
  • Headless design – Rich, omnichannel capabilities and integrations abound
  • Extensibility – A plug-in-based extension model and a large number of out-of-the-box extensions and integrations are included.
  • Cloud-native – Features rich integration with Azure cloud services and is optimized to run in Azure cloud.
  • Upgradability – Developers withstand backward compatibility in new versions. If you follow the rules of extensions, you can easily get updates.
  • High scalability – Flexible architecture and support for multiple databases allow the environment to scale effortlessly.
  • Modern tech stack – Regularly releases new versions of the software keeping up with the on-edge tech stack, presently .NET 6.0 and Vue 3.0.
  • Composable, enterprise feature set for sophisticated use cases; architectural flexibility and general versatility allow you to initiate various scenarios, integrate Virto Commerce into existing solutions, and implement a large number of business scenarios.
  • Cross-platforming – Allows running applications on different Windows/Linux platforms.
  • Open source – Enables developers to quickly develop and understand the logic of the platform or make changes to the project without depending on the vendor team.

Virto Commerce disadvantages

  • Cost – The platform is only free for businesses with annual sales below $1M.
  • Limited Web CMS features – Proprietary PageBuilder CMS to manage content from the administrative area, but it’s possible to integrate any third-party CMS and PIM software.
  • The documentation updates do not always match the speed of releases and updates. In such cases, the help of the Virto team is required.
  • It takes a rather long time for developers to initially learn the software, i.e., there is a steep learning curve, but the platform’s composable extensibility makes up for it.

Optimizely B2B Commerce Feature List 

Below is the feature list taken from the vendor website:

  • Catalogs and products. Manage catalogs, product categories, and products; catalogs are independent from each other.
  • Orders. Use the Orders subsystem to: monitor, track, change, or create new orders; ship out items; ship to multiple addresses; and create returns or exchanges.
  • Merchandising. Automate your merchandising, so you can bring more targeted visitors to your website and turn them into customers.
  • Customers. Store customer records and track orders placed across multiple websites.
  • Pricing and promotions. Gain control over promotions—from developing custom discounts to deciding when the campaign should go live.
  • Multi-site and language features. Create and deploy two or more localized ecommerce websites on a single Optimizely Commerce platform.
  • Multi-channel ecommerce. Create content in one place and share and distribute it via multiple channels, such as mobile, social, email, and the ecommerce website.
  • Security. Achieve control over who can access your ecommerce website back end, so that only authorized users can modify your website or view customer data.
  • Content. Marketers and merchandisers work from the editorial interface to create and update content.
  • Administration and configuration. Manage ecommerce administrative and configuration tasks.
Optimizely feature list

Optimizely B2B Commerce Advantages and Disadvantages

Optimizely B2B Commerce is a popular .NET 5 ecommerce platform. The main scope of the platform is its ability to create and get to the operation of online stores. The platform is focused on a B2B business model with a rich ecosystem for marketing, productivity, and CMS functionality. 

Optimizely B2B Commerce brings necessary ecommerce functionality, such as catalog, customer, and order management, combining the powerful content publishing and display features of a CMS with advanced back-end web shop management. Be aware that the platform is not easy to start—it requires a specific installation and license.

Optimizely B2B commerce advantages

  • Personalized CMS experience based on company's needs.
  • Robust marketing features. For example, the engine allows a marketing department to categorize customers and offer a variety of discounts to targeted customers at specific times. 
  • Offers A/B testing helpful for trying out new content ideas and tracking the results.
  • Plug-in-based extension model prepared for customization and a large number of ready-made plug-ins and widgets.
  • Support for front-end themes allows you to easily change the appearance of your stores, along with a large number of ready-made themes from partners, which significantly contribute to the speed of development and changes.
  • Technology stack is based on ASP.NET Core 5. 

Optimizely B2B commerce disadvantages

  • The legacy monolithic nature of the Optimizely solution does not prepare it for modern requirements and flexible scalability of cloud infrastructure. 
  • Has expensive initial hardware requirements. 
  • Only allows you to run your application on Windows platforms.
  • It is not possible to horizontally scale the database; in which case, it will always be a performance bottleneck.
  • It’s not possible to customize the original platform—you have to make changes to the original platform code only via plug-ins, which significantly complicates the process and provides limited functionality.
  • Requires direct support and access to the tech team to discuss and resolve issues.
  • Developer documentation. As with any platform, this area is continually being improved.

Virto Commerce vs. Optimizely B2B Commerce Point-by-Point Comparison

For the subsequent comparison of Virto Commerce versus Episerver platforms, let’s note the factors that are important for decision-makers. Here we summarize technical specifications from the vendor websites.

Business-related features

Features / Vendor
Virto Commerce
Optimizely B2B Commerce
Digital catalog Yes Yes
Mobile touchpoints Yes Yes
Account management Yes Unknown
User groups Yes Yes
Multicurrency Yes Yes
Coins,cryptos Yes Unknown
Multiple languages Yes Yes
AI engine support Azure ML Studio Add-on
Built-in CMS Yes Yes
Multi-site management Yes Yes
Promo campaigns Yes Yes

Technology-related features

Features / Vendor
Virto Commerce
Optimizely B2B Commerce
Solution framework

.NET 6 / ASP.NET Core 6

ASP.NET Core 5

Preferred cloud

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure

API Yes Yes
Open-source code Yes No
Headless Yes No
Microservices Yes Yes
Composable design Yes CMS-related
Scaling Yes WebFarm mode only
Linux-based Container (k8s) support Yes No
Public demo environment Yes No

How Much Do Optimizely B2B Commerce and Virto Commerce Solutions Cost?

Price is the factor that customers are interested in from day one, along with a list of functionalities. There's no one-click pricing here; both vendors adhere to B2B tradition by providing quotes upon request for the buyer’s desired product or service type and level.

There are several factors that affect the price of ecommerce platforms, such as the number of SKUs, customization options, and technical support. Here we compare the pricing models of two popular ecommerce platforms, Optimizely and Virto Commerce.

Optimizely's prices depend on the number of SKUs, with other factors such as customization and technical support also affecting the final cost. Virto Commerce also adopts a quotation-based pricing model that takes into account the customer's ecommerce revenue and license group. Prices for both platforms vary depending on the specific needs of the client’s business.

To get an accurate quote for your ecommerce platform needs, it is best to consult with a sales representative from each company. This way, you can determine which platform is the best fit for your business in terms of both price and features ratio.


Using the redesigned and updated InsiteCommerce ecommerce product, now branded as Optimizely B2B Commerce, might be a good choice if this product had a dedicated B2B roadmap for the future. But we don't know about that, and it's possible that the company will decide to merge Optimizely B2B Commerce and Optimizely B2C Commerce into one solution. If that happens, then customers will need to replatform, which is always a difficult and expensive process. 

Among the major advantages of Virto Commerce are its atomic-like modular architecture, using ASP.NET Core 6 framework, and multiple versions for private cloud, SaaS, and marketplace. Customers have the opportunity to make the most comprehensive comparison by themselves.
Request a demo setup of both the Optimizely B2B Commerce and Virto Commerce ecommerce platforms and then try out the features critical to your B2B segment.

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