Every online business is supported by an ecommerce platform, a software application that manages the website, marketing, sales, and operations. Today, businesses have three choices in ecommerce solutions.
Off the shelf platforms such as Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce which are mass produced to be adaptable to a wide variety of businesses and which restrict businesses to fit existing configurations.
Completely customised platforms which are often complex and costly to support.
And more flexible platforms, often from smaller, more agile providers, delivering an extensive portfolio of core features easily customisable to a business's exact needs.
Your choice of solution has a huge impact on your ability to meet both your customers’ and the businesses commercial needs now and in the future. Here are some signs that it might be time for a more flexible solution.
1. Your business has evolved but your ecommerce platform hasn’t
If you’ve been on the same ecommerce platform for a number of years, it’s likely that it may no longer be fit for purpose. Ecommerce and consumer shopping habits are continually evolving. In the last few years alone, we’ve seen the rise of machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, all focused on creating a personalised experience for the consumer.
Choosing a platform with an ongoing development roadmap and regular releases of new features, plus an open API framework, means your business will be supported far into the future.
“We needed to migrate our eCommerce platform quickly before our existing platform stopped being supported. Having an agile platform with unlimited integration options and the ability to work closely with the development and marketing teams at 9xb has been crucial to strengthening our B2B offering.” Jigsaw24
2. Platform development costs are incrementally rising
Most common ecommerce platforms are open-source, allowing the user some element of control, in that code can be easily modified and if necessary, transferred between developers. That is all well and good, but some platforms, such as Magento are known for their complexity and steep learning curve. They may tell you functionality is available out of the box, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to work it out yourself. Magento takes skill to programme and knowledge to use effectively.
There are a plethora of agencies out there who provide Magento support for that very reason, and charge a pretty penny for it too.
9xb’s post launch support and management service ensures we’re on hand to quickly respond when you need us, reducing the risk to your business, and protecting the ongoing integrity of your eCommerce store.
3. As your business grows, so do your ecommerce platform fees
The most popular SaaS ecommerce platforms charge a monthly recurring fee based on a share of revenue. At first glance this can seem like an appealing model. They are invested in your success and your costs only increase in line with what you can afford. However, should you really be penalised for doing well? Most of these platforms come off the shelf with an inventory of ready made features. Whether you are a £40 million turnover business or a £170 million turnover business, you have access to the same functionality and the same level of service, so why should you pay more?
9xb’s open source platform, Peracto, doesn’t incur higher costs based on online sales. Instead, there is a one off development cost, with ongoing hosting and support costs relating to need.
4. Platform support is either unresponsive or costly
For many of the larger platform providers, support is based outside of the UK and can be slow. See my earlier point on additional development and support costs which need to be factored in when considering some platforms.
“9xb have been a great company to work with. Very responsive to our needs and good advice and guidance thrown in. They will always be my ‘go-to’ company when I need a web solution.” The Post Office
5. Making even small changes to the site is painful
The ability for your in-house Marketing team to make simple updates to your site is essential for the day to day running of your store. This could be a new image upload or even adding a promotional banner to your homepage.
Choosing a platform with an intuitive and easy to use CMS is another key consideration for your business. For example, Peracto supports the presentation of product data and rich brand content in a single solution. With a powerful CMS integrated into the heart of the platform, enriched content can be seamlessly combined with comprehensive ecommerce functionality.
“9xb understood what we wanted to achieve and combined marketing know-how with technical expertise. The result is a really effective website that generates bookings.” Pizza Express
6. During peak trading you get VERY nervous
If the words ‘Black Friday’ fill you with dread, you’re not alone. We speak to many businesses who’ve come to us because they have been let down by their existing platform. If you aren’t sure your ecommerce solution can cope with an increase in online visitors and orders, then it’s time for a change. 9xb uses market leading Amazon Web Services providing fast, secure and reliable cloud hosting. Cloud-based services are ideal for businesses with growing or fluctuating demands, as the flexibility to scale capacity up or down is baked into the service.
“Limitations of our existing Magento eCommerce platform plus a lack of integration with our in-house ERP Volo, were preventing the business from growing. The final straw came when a Black Friday promotion was ‘turned off’ a day early, leading to a significant loss of sales.” M&P Motorcycles
7. You’re unable to integrate other business critical systems
A recent Retail Trends report by Retail Expo says that ‘the challenge and opportunity for online retailers is to give consumers a seamless suite of options so they can decide how they want to serve themselves.’ In order to do this, retailers must provide an intelligent, speedy and low-friction journey, which can only be achieved through intelligent use of data.
“Getting our ERP and website to communicate has always been a challenge. Our PIM is the backbone to our business, so having a website partner who understands our infrastructure and a flexible platform that easily integrates with third party apps, means we can grow quickly.” Arleigh
8. You’ve adapted your business to fit your platform, rather than your platform adapting to fit your business
Again, if you’ve been on the same platform for a long time it’s likely your business has evolved and that you’ve introduced workarounds to make the platform fit for purpose. For example, adding costly middleware to enable you to sell on Amazon, or manually managing data outside the platform. These workarounds usually result in creating business silos or inefficiencies which impact the experience you provide your customers.
“9xb are a reliable partner across all areas of eCommerce and have worked well with the ECP team. This new webstore further enhances the service we provide our trade customers and supports our strategy of ongoing innovation.” Euro Car Parts
9. You’re unable to react quickly to changing customer demands
When 9xb client Watco, a UK based manufacturer of industrial floor coatings, repair materials and anti-slip products, created a spin off brand targeting small trade users, we were able to support them on their existing platform. Another client, English Cheesecake Company, identified an opportunity to develop a direct to consumer channel, which, given the nature of the product, presented several eCommerce challenges. However, because of the flexible nature of the platform, we were able to support them in their transition, creating an award winning site.
“The new websites successfully deliver best in class eCommerce, improved UX, exceptional customer service at point of order, and clear market positioning of product ranges. The ability to roll out new sites quickly is key to growing the Watco brand.” Watco
If you’re looking to partner with an agile ecommerce agency on a proven platform, get in touch.