4 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Enterprise Commerce Platform


Digital commerce has changed business forever.

Ten years ago, who would have predicted the massive changes that mobile phones would make? Or that most enterprise software would be running in the cloud?


Commerce today is about customer experience, relationships and personalization. It’s about discovery, attachment and intimacy. Even more, it’s about being able to power business models you haven’t even conceived yet.


For example, what is your commerce of things strategy? When will you be launching your first social commerce experience? The companies at the top of every industry are all working on these challenges and more. They know that their future depends on being able to pivot quickly, taking advantage of new touchpoints and technologies as soon as they arrive. The question is which commerce platform to choose?


From our experience, there are four key questions:


1. Does our business demand continuous differentiation?

Does your company need to continuously differentiate itself from others through a superior user experience?


Some businesses compete on price. Others have a geographic focus that guarantees business. These kinds of business do not always require continuous differentiation. But, if your company is a leader in your industry, brand differentiation through customer experience will be of utmost importance. Choose an ecommerce framework that can extend to new touchpoints and leverage new technologies — one that is adaptable and scalable and that offers true enterprise-grade commerce capabilities.


2. All-in-one? Or build with the best?

These are still early days in terms of commerce platform maturity. New technologies are continuously being brought to market. It might sound easy to go with a turnkey commerce But, all-in-one solutions don’t give you the opportunity to easily take advantage of new touchpoints or applications. Worse, they might not be flexible enough to keep up with an evolving business strategy. Their technologies are fundamentally closed, requiring costly, lengthy integration projects, or are limited to a subset of third-party applications.


Many Fortune-1,000 companies are taking a best of breed approach to ensure that they offer commerce experiences that no one else does. And that’s not easy because as soon as new functionality hits the market, eventually everyone gets it. Remember when no one had product suggesters? “People who bought this item also bought this?” Now, almost every retail site has that capability. Dynamic pricing is currently being used by airlines, telecommunications and entertainment. Other industries won’t be far behind.


Gartner Group is predicting that by 2018 half of all new commerce solutions will take advantage of no less than 15 different vendor applications.


The single-stack, monoliths of the computing world would have you believe that their solutions are best of breed. However, when many of the best haven’t even been invented yet, how can that be true? If a commerce platform is not API-based it won’t be able to adopt new technologies swiftly.


3. Is our organization looking to change its business model?
The digital economy has surfaced disruptive business models.


If you are looking to transform your business, then an open, API-based commerce platform will be a good bet for the future. API-based commerce allows your system to easily connect to any front-end marketing applications or technology and any backend or legacy systems. They are often Java ecommerce frameworks built using forward-looking open source software.


What’s most important is how the API works. A hypermedia API allows developers to create connections to new devices and technologies more easily by exposing resources as simple links, making it easier to develop new business experiences.


4. Cloud or Not?

Moving to the cloud dramatically reduces computing costs. For example, we ran the numbers for our new Elastic Path Commerce Cloud for AWS. They showed that running in the cloud will eliminate 90% of computing infrastructure costs. That includes servers, software and maintenance. While that’s a compelling cost of ownership argument, there may be a technical or regulatory reason for not shifting your commerce application to a public cloud. In that case, choose a robust ecommerce platform for your on-premise solution, but make sure that it provides the option to move to the cloud when constraints lift.


There’s another reason to consider the cloud. The commerce of things is going to increase the number of commerce touchpoints exponentially. If you are building customer experiences into more touchpoints, you’ll need more computing power. Public clouds like AWS can right-size the computing infrastructure you need to process millions more transactions.


Questioning the pros and cons of different commerce platforms? We can help you make the right decision.


Tags: ecommerce platform, enterprise commerce