The Advantages of an Enterprise Digital Commerce Platform The large-scale changes from the past two years have forced many leaders of the retail world to gradually migrate online. For some, the transition to e-commerce has been natural, as they had been preparing for years. For others, though, the process was difficult and marked by complex and costly decisions. Decisions that had to be taken in a matter of weeks or even days!
Among them, one proved to be particularly troublesome, as it impacted both the financial department, as well as the development one. This particular dilemma was “Should we use an established eCommerce platform or build one from the ground up?”
The In-house Temptation
To bust a common myth, we’ll have to say that the temptation of building a proprietary platform is not confined to small companies. In fact, large companies are more inclined to take this approach as they are already leaders in their sectors. Many believe that if they innovated so much offline, they can easily do the same thing online.
In theory, an in-house solution offers full creative freedom, as well as the possibility of building your own processes. Furthermore, such a solution appears to save you the monthly fee a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution may incur and save money on the long term.
In practice, however, these solutions often become far more costly, complex, and rigid than an established platform. Why? Because eCommerce solutions are ample ecosystems based on complex business processes. Even for the simplest store, each checkout engages multiple systems.
If you go beyond the visual aspect of a store (the front-end), you will discover a chain of interconnected technologies that create a bridge between your suppliers, buyers, data management systems, payment gateways, and transport companies.
Your product display pages? They’re created in a CMS (Content Management System) that needs to be crawled and properly indexed by Google, but also by your own search system. The orders your customers place? They will be managed by an OMS (Order Management System), while transaction information will be kept inside an ERP. Customer data? Managed through a CRM.
Payments, promotions, loyalty programs, and transactional e-mails will require further development, and so will reporting. And that’s just for what happens with an order inside your store!
After the payment is legally processed, the products in the order need to be reserved in a distribution center (through a WMS), taken by a transport company, and tracked until they are delivered to your door. And if you’re aiming for an omnichannel approach, this process gets even more complicated!
The most difficult part when dealing with these processes? Each of the aforementioned modules doesn’t just represent a development effort, but also documentation and a long-term maintenance effort. Furthermore, compatibility, integration, and system security will also have to be handled by your team!
Why choose a platform?
In a now-famous article, Ben Thompson introduced the concept of the ”Bill Gates line”. The concept appeared in an interview, in which one of his business partners quoted Gates as saying ”A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it exceeds the value of the company that creates it.” Otherwise, it’s just an aggregator, a technology or a mere website!
Unsurprisingly, this concept forms the base of many eCommerce platforms: to be truly useful to their clients, platforms should be involved in their success. They should provide all the tools that are necessary for integration into the commerce ecosystem, tools that would be more costly otherwise.
By using an eCommerce platform, you’ll be able to:
● Save the money dedicated to developing basic functionalities, most being available out-of-the-box.
● Save time, as the best platforms can have a time-to-market of only a few months (by comparison, some in-house systems took years to make).
● Have higher cost predictability, as SaaS fees are considered OPEX.
● Have access to the latest functionalities and apps with no extra cost.
● Use modules that would otherwise be acquired separately, like order management and warehouse management.
● Have direct access to integrations with shipping companies and payment systems, saving negotiation and development time.
● Have access to a wide range of documents and resources that will allow your team to use the platform and your customers to get support.
● Scale fast and without the large overhead
● Forget about constant maintenance and updates
● Forget about the system and user security
Plus, with an established platform, you will never be the first user – which is what happens when you choose a lesser-known provider or your own solution. This means that the experience of other stores on the same platform will help you overcome the potential business and technological barriers.
A platform is not just the best choice in terms of costs, it’s also the shortest path to your financial objectives. As underlined by the previous quote, a platform’s success is measured by its tenants’ success!
The Next Step? The Enterprise Digital Platform
VTEX is a multinational tech company that provides a global, fully integrated, end-to-end commerce solution with the native marketplace and OMS capabilities. Our modern API-first architecture and our powerful business and developer tools allow VTEX to future-proof our customers’ businesses and free them from software updates.
What makes our platform unique? VTEX is based on a headless architecture, allowing its backend and frontend to function independently and giving development teams the freedom to deliver any experience they want.
Furthermore, VTEX is a true multitenant platform, allowing our clients to get the latest updates and modules almost immediately after launch. Our Intelligent Search uses A.I. to streamline your customers’ journey, while our native marketplace abilities give you the capability to expand at the click of a button!
But you don’t have to take our word for it! Simply contact one of our consultants, and we can schedule a free demo call, showing you VTEX’s capabilities in action! It’s time to switch to an enterprise-grade platform!