Top-7 things to know about the future of advertising in the cookie-less world:

01

Privacy regulations continue to tighten, as consumer privacy concerns grow.

02

Cookies aren’t going away entirely; cookie-less world is the third-party cookie-less world.

03

Deprecation of the third-party cookies means data-driven advertising will rely on persistent IDs.

04

Growing importance of building and managing an in-house data repository.

05

Personalization will strengthen with the rise of CDP, DMPs will transform.

06

Increasing reliance on publishers data, as the walled gardens are getting stronger.

07

On the measurement side, with the sunset of third-party cookies and ID log files MTA methodologies will need to evolve by establishing the connections with walled gardens to access the data and introducing new ways of processing and stitching the data with the persistent ID.

How brands can action now:

  • Unlock the power of first-party-based strategies; supplement it with publisher / partner data
  • Re-examine your tech stack and implement a best-in-class tool ecosystem: focus on the quality of the data
  • Onboard a CDP solution to increase the effectiveness / ROI of marketing campaigns and create personalized customer experiences at scale

Learn how Transcend Digital helps brands of all sizes build the integrated tool infrastructure to collect, store, manage data and activate it across marketing initiatives.

Source

https://digiday.com/media/google-plans-kill-off-third-party-cookies-chrome-within-2-years/

https://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/how-to-own-data-and-measure-performance-in-a-cookie-less-world/

By 2022, Amazon’s share of US digital ad spending is predicted to be almost 13%. Its rapid growth is helping Amazon to chip away at online advertising’s dominant player, Google. For marketers, it is the difference in reaching the person searching for “athlete’s foot cream” rather than “why does my foot hurt?”. Here’s our perspective on why Amazon is an integral part of commerce strategy:

01

66% of US consumers start their product search journey on Amazon, according to Feedvisor. Google is the number one search engine, but lags behind when it comes to product shopping (according to eMarketer).

02

Advertisers favor Amazon because marketing dollars are trackable and measurable, as a transaction happens directly within the platform.

03

Amazon provides cross-funnel, integrated advertising solutions, giving marketers the ability to influence consumers purchase decisions at every stage of her journey.

04

Unlike Google, where advertiser’s quality scores will tank in the attempt to bid on competitor terms, Amazon’s search result page could show competitor (sponsored) products in the first position.

05

Brands take advantage of Amazon’s rich audience data to increase the return on ad spend by customizing their targeting strategy and prioritizing high-intent shoppers. Amazon’s audience insights tool unlocks insights into buyer purchase behaviors, which marketers could use to scale the program while still hitting the efficiency goals.

06

By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic (according to Cisco), and Amazon is not behind. The commerce giant introduced a new thumb-stopping advertising format in 2020 and brands already see strong results from it.

Optimizing product pages and advertising on Amazon (and Walmart: the retailer opened up its self-service advertising platform in 2020) may feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Our team of platform-certified experts will help define the right online marketplace strategy for businesses of all sizes, whether it’s launching a new product, penetrating a category or lifting sales. Contact us to get a read on Amazon advertising benchmarks.

Source : https://www.ft.com/content/095d73d5-a7a6-4acc-9dcc-9ee3e3d1fff4

As a business at the enterprise level, choosing a new ecommerce platform is a huge undertaking. You not only have to take a number of internal and external stakeholders’ needs into account when choosing an appropriate solution but also sell them on adopting it. While the start of a re-platforming project can feel like a massive integration and technology mountain to climb with many risks and unknowns, by planning and doing thorough requirements gathering from the start, you can choose a platform that is is flexible, extensible, and scalable. You will be able to match the needs of your growing business and support your customers with the unbeatable experience they have some to associate with your brand.

The ecommerce platform landscape is a sea of options if you’re a small or medium-sized business. But for those brands in the enterprise ecommerce space, you may find the number of platforms that can really handle your business needs shrinks considerably. And as an ecommerce business at the enterprise end of the market, achieving your exact requirements is critical. After all, your brand is on the line. You can’t afford to have customer data breaches, periods of site downtime, or a disjointed user experience.

An enterprise ecommerce platform is a software system (either self-hosted or on-premise) that serves the complex requirements of a large business. Enterprise-level systems are scaled to your business size and growth roadmap. A good platform should be able to not only meet your needs now, but also grow with your future sales volumes. These platforms also usually have advanced features and functionality and can be customized to your business.

Choosing the right one depends on many factors related to:

  • What the business needs to run efficiently
  • What the ultimate business goals are
  • What challenges with your existing system you’re hoping to resolve

In this deep dive, we’ll cover how to determine what your ecommerce platform needs are and compare popular enterprise ecommerce platforms that are currently leading the market.

Below are some things you may want to consider:

01

What are the main business objectives behind the re-platforming?

  • The best way to figure out what you need is to clearly define where it is you want to go.
  • Are you hoping to reduce costs and increase returns?
  • Do you want to provide a more user-friendly interface to boost conversion rates?
  • Is your current platform unable to keep pace with your growing business?
  • Do you need a platform that better integrates with third-party solutions?
  • Are you trying to avoid being locked in to using particular vendors or service providers?

02

Identify potential restrictions and bottlenecks.

  • Is your current platform outdated, unstable, and unreliable for handling your peak traffic conditions?
  • Are key information systems in your organizations (ERP, OMS, WMS, etc.) difficult to integrate with your existing platform?
  • Is your total cost of ownership increasing due to required headcount in IT, unforeseen maintenance costs, or platform consolidation requirements due to a recent merger or acquisition?
  • Do you have any concerns about PCI compliance or the security of your existing system?
  • Do you rely heavily on your hosting company for server performance?
  • What are your pain points?

03

What are critical existing ecommerce features and integrations?

  • Does your business require any specific integrations (payment gateways, etc.)?
  • Does your business require specific page building functionality or catalog requirements?
  • Do you need to support an omnichannel strategy? Are you looking to expand to brick and mortar stores, sell on social media channels, or open other sales channels?
  • Do you have more than one online store that needs to be supported on the same platform?
  • Whatever is absolutely critical to the functioning of your business should be outlined here.
  • Despite your pain points, you’re still operating an ecommerce business at the enterprise level, so your current platform is obviously doing some things right.
  • It’s important to also make note of all existing features and functionality you need to maintain with your new system (whether they’re native to your current platform…or a hack or work around your team has engineered).

04

What features would be nice to have?

  • “While making the transition, we strategically chose to make a couple quick-win optimizations to improve the customer experience and aesthetics of our sites.” – Kinsey Butler, Manager of Ecommerce Strategy at Skullcandy.
  • Of course, if you’re going to go through the trouble of re-platforming, you don’t just want to maintain the status quo critical items and address your current pain points. SkullCandy made the leap from Salesforce Commerce Cloud to BigCommerce and shared this about their re-platform experience:
  • Don’t forget to include your wish list of items that would be nice-to-have even if they aren’t absolute must-haves. You can keep these in mind to consider once you are comparing platforms that meet all of your critical line items.

05

What are the key systems integrations required?

  • No ecommerce platform is an island. Your platform has to be able to integrate effectively with the key systems your business uses (unless you’re prepared to move from these as well). These may include your ERP, WMS, OMS, CRM, and others.

06

Future systems integrations required for phase two.

  • At this stage, it’s also important to consider where your company is headed. Your next platform should provide the flexibility, scalability, and extensibility to grow with you as you enter new markets (like brick and mortar locations, an online marketplace, and any other sales channels.) Take time to consider what your future plans and goals will require in terms of features and integrations with your platform. Make sure your new platform can support them. You don’t want to be going through the headache of a re-platform just a few years down the road.

10

The State of Enterprise Ecommerce Solutions Available

Your ecommerce platform is the foundation for your online retail business. Enterprise ecommerce software manages both your frontend sales and your backend operations while integrating with core business tools.

Your platform choice affects not only your frontend sales capabilities, but also everything happening behind the curtain. Before we get to all the individual options to consider, let’s consider the general categories that all of these solutions fall into.

First, your platform has to be hosted somewhere. Your choice of ecommerce platform will typically determine your hosting environment, which is either:

  • On-premise, self-hosted
  • Cloud-hosted.

Your hosted ecommerce platform will likely fall into one of these categories:

  • Open Source (self-hosted or cloud-hosted).
  • SaaS (software as a service, cloud-hosted by third-party).
  • PaaS (platform as a service, hardware/software available over the internet).
  • IaaS (infrastructure as a service, cloud-based, pay-as-you-services).

We’ll be predominantly looking at open source and SaaS ecommerce, but you can get a full primer on the differences here; or, check out this handy visual breakdown from Hosting Advice:

  • Enterprise ecommerce platforms open saas platforms

You can also classify platforms by their underlying architectures.

  • Traditional, monolith
  • Headless or CaaS (Commerce as a Service)

01

On-Premise

One option for enterprise ecommerce software are those hosted on-premise. This requires you to self-host the software. The software will usually be open source. Open-source software means you can modify all aspects of the code. Until recently, this was the de facto choice for enterprise-level businesses. By self-hosting on-premise, you maintain server and software control. That said, you will also have great responsibilities which come with increased IT staff needs to maintain hardware, manual patches and updates, and security.

02

Cloud

The alternative to hosting on-premise is cloud-hosting. Open source or SaaS platforms (see below) can be hosted on the cloud, i.e. stored off-site. It is only within the last few years that many enterprise businesses have started turning to cloud-hosted options for ecommerce software.

03

Open Source

An open source ecommerce platform is one the company usually owns, and on which they can modify all of the code. The advantages of these platforms are server and software control. However, these platforms usually have a higher initial cost. They also require a lot of responsibilities which fall on the business to manage including security (PCI compliance), hardware, IT staff to manage, hosting, and manual integrations.

04

SaaS

SaaS solutions provide an alternative to open source and have grown in popularity in recent years. As an industry, cloud SaaS has tripled in global market size in the last five years and continues to grow. According to data from Statista, SaaS currently accounts for nearly $90 billion in annual revenue, which is expected to increase to over $100 billion by 2022. Why are more enterprise companies looking to SaaS? SaaS platforms allow businesses to essentially rent the platform. In many cases, the total cost of ownership is lower when everything (cloud hosting, SSL, security, platform maintenance, etc.) is factored in. They are versionless and outsource the responsibility of IT management, PCI compliance, etc. The disadvantage, depending on your business needs, is that you have less backend and code-level control. While previously many enterprise level businesses tended to default to on-premise solutions, recently there have been far more viable options for enterprise level SaaS. Some of these come from providers known for their on-premise ecommerce platforms newly offering SaaS solutions including 

  • SAP Commerce Cloud,
  • Oracle Commerce Cloud, and
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Magento Commerce Cloud Edition also offers a PaaS solution. Meanwhile, players who originated as SaaS providers have now moved into the enterprise space with new offerings to meet the complex business needs of clients with high volume sales.

These include BigCommerce and Shopify Plus, both of which have been growing and adopted by more established enterprise retail brands. By choosing to rent instead of own, businesses are able to shift their financial and human resources from maintenance and integration to building relationships with customers and improving customer experiences. This white paper shares more about why enterprise brands are making the shift to SaaS.

05

Headless

For many businesses, the digital experience you’re creating is just as important as the product you’re selling. This is especially true in highly competitive industries. What is your business doing to create a positive experience for customers that sets you apart from the competition?

Headless commerce is an exciting innovation in SaaS ecommerce platforms that adopts a loosely de-coupled microservice architecture. Unlike in a monolith architecture where the frontend and backend are tightly coupled, a headless approach separates the frontend user interface layer (the “head”) from the underlying backend service layer. These two layers are connected through APIs or web services. Headless is a microservices approach, as it decouples one element of the system instead of relying on one interdependent system. Decoupled approaches like headless are a potential advantage to enterprise businesses because they allow for greater freedom and control. You can develop some elements of your system to operate independently from each other instead of having everything be fully joined together.

Henna Caravan shared the advantages they found in moving from an on-premise solution with Magento to a headless SaaS option with BigCommerce: “We needed a platform that would be able to host both an ecommerce site, as well as a robust content site that would allow us to educate the market. BigCommerce was the only ecommerce platform for a business of our size that allowed for product variant customization in a complex way, and that contained both an ecommerce solution as well as content pages that could serve as a CMS.” – Jessica McQueen, Founder of Henna Caravan

A headless ecommerce platform will still provide important functions likes PCI compliance, security, fraud management, and inventory management to larger key infrastructure points such as a CMS, ERPs, PIMs, OMS, and POS. But at the same time, it gives more freedom to create unique customer experiences with the frontend content management system. Popular ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Elastic Path, Moltin, and commercetools offer headless, microservice and API-driven options.

Understanding Your Resources and Setting a Budget

When choosing ecommerce platforms, think about who in the company (or from outside hired agencies) will be responsible for things like project management, development and design.

Then, keeping the cart firmly behind the horse, make sure that all stakeholders involved in the ecommerce platform launch are on the same page regarding business needs and budget.

Different stakeholders may have different priorities. However, it will be a much smoother process if there is agreement on the budget and timelines allowed for the project from the very beginning.

Below are some things you may want to consider:

01

Ecommerce platform cost

  • Due to their varying functionality and features, pricing between platforms also varies significantly.
  • Different platforms also have different pricing models you will need to take into account.
  • On-premise “owned” solutions often have hefty licensing fees that correlate to the GMV bracket your business falls into. Other models may be based on your expected usage and site traffic. Some headless solutions may also base pricing on the number of API calls you will require.
  • SaaS options like BigCommerce vs. Shopify Plus have a recurring monthly fee that covers their services.

In addition to the start-up costs, you will have to factor in other costs associated with ownership.

  • Will you be paying to support hardware and/or hosting?
  • Manual updates?
  • Do your research to really determine what the total cost of ownership for a particular solution will be.

02

Development & integration costs

Re-platforming comes with a large investment in development and integration. These costs are not to be discounted and, along with design, may be one or you largest expenditures of a re-platform process. You may choose to use an in-house team to build, design, and test your site or you may choose to outsource it to an external agency like Transcend Digital.

Factors to consider here are the 

  • Build costs, 
  • Third-party integration costs, 
  • API integrations, and 
  • Third-party app costs, 
  • Pre-launch testing

03

Website design costs

Often a re-platform project is a great time to refresh your website’s appearance and design as well. In fact, some redesign will likely be inevitable. You can use this as an opportunity to hone your design and create a more user-friendly interface.

Map out how your core users will journey through the site. This will involve creating templates and wireframes to determine how your users interact with your content and products. You want them to be able to find what they’re looking for and make purchases with fewer clicks and a positive overall interaction with your brand. Much like with your development and integration plans, you will need to make a decision on whether or not to handle design internally or outsource to a contractor or agency specializing in design. These decisions will be the first step in determining a budget for site design.

04

Migration costs

Maintaining the integrity of your data is a vital part of the re-platform process, so this is not a place to skimp on budget calculations. Making sure all of your product, category, transactional, and customer data makes the migration successfully to the new platform is critical to your business. Have a conversation early on with any platforms you are considering moving to about the costs and assurances around data migration.

  • What sort of data migration services/agreements do they offer?
  • Do they offer catalogue transfer services?

These costs can be significant, so factoring them into your re-platform budget is important before you make a final decision on your platform. After all, a poor transfer could result in faulty product mapping, incorrect product recommendations or images, and mishandled customer data. All of these can impact your conversion rates and, more importantly, lose customer faith in your brand.

05

Costs to ensure you retain SEO traffic

Speaking of migration costs, as important as keeping your data clear so that customers can continue to find what they need once they’re on your site is helping them to find your site in the first place.

Don’t lose the valuable SEO equity you’ve built in your current site with a poor re-platform plan.

Your internal SEO team (or an agency of SEO specialists you outsource to) will need to do due diligence in SEO discovery and a thorough content audit. You will also need to create a URL structure and redirection plan. Depending on if you do this with an internal team or use an agency, your budget for this process will vary.

06

Maintenance costsc

And finally, your budget doesn’t stop the moment your new platform is up and running.

Even the most well-oiled of platform machines will require plenty of nurturing post-launch.

How much will it cost to keep your online store running?

These costs can include maintenance fees, continuing development and design work, platform support, SEO and data analytics, security and PCI compliance (if not included), and updates and patches.

  • PCI compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an information security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card schemes. payment link

Other Things To Consider When Choosing an Enterprise Ecommerce Solution

For an enterprise business to perform like you need it to, a number of systems need to work together harmoniously. Whether you’re predominantly B2B or B2C, customer experience is likely a big component of your success. You need to keep customers happy, the website up and available, and logistics like payments and shipping chugging along. You may also be faced with a continual need to implement new tools for marketing, ecommerce, and other teams. And of course, there’s an expectation that everything will work flawlessly with the existing tech stack.

Here are a few things you may want to consider when choosing the right ecommerce solution:

01

Beyond all the bell and whistles, one of your must-haves is that your site works consistently. We live in a digital age when many potential customers don’t suffer fools…or slow loading speeds.

Your site needs to have strong uptime records. It also needs to have fast site speed on both desktop and mobile (more on mobile optimization below).

02

Capacity to handle traffic

  • Is your traffic growing beyond what your current platform can handle?
  • Does your particular business experience dramatic seasonal spikes in traffic?

Find a platform that can not only meet your traffic needs now but have the scalability to work with your projected growth.

03

Secure payments and data

Protecting your data and that of your customers is never far from your mind. Choose a platform that will help you feel secure in how your payments and data are managed because the alternative can cost your company. This may be influenced by your choice of a self-hosted or on-premise platform versus a SaaS platform. A self-hosted platform will often provide increased visibility of your data and an understanding of data security.

However, a SaaS option will provide security and PCI compliance as part of their monthly fees, handling these important matters while freeing up your resources for other undertakings.

04

Mobile optimization

You may want to make part of focusing in your site performance on optimizing the mobile experience, as more and more consumers are choosing to shop on these mediums.

According to Statista research, 44.7% of ecommerce sales were mobile in 2019, which is projected to grow to 53.9% by 2021. Of course, you know your business best. Take time to study where and how your customers are accessing your site.

Utilizing a headless platform is one-way many enterprise retailers are approaching developing an optimal mobile experience through a flexible front-end capability.

05

Migration complexity and SEO

Despite being a major consideration for most ecommerce businesses, not all enterprise ecommerce platforms handle SEO well. Some platforms do have native features around SEO and migration, while others will require customization and third-party integrations. Create clear specifications for what SEO features you require as part of your platform planning. Your SEO team will probably have a lot of input to include here about what will help search engines to better crawl the site.

Some requirements you may want to consider are: having control over your XML sitemaps, being able to provide page-level metadata, control over redirect management, pagination, etc.

05

Migration complexity and SEO

Despite being a major consideration for most ecommerce businesses, not all enterprise ecommerce platforms handle SEO well. Some platforms do have native features around SEO and migration, while others will require customization and third-party integrations. Create clear specifications for what SEO features you require as part of your platform planning. Your SEO team will probably have a lot of input to include here about what will help search engines to better crawl the site.

Some requirements you may want to consider are: having control over your XML sitemaps, being able to provide page-level metadata, control over redirect management, pagination, etc.

10

Enterprise Ecommerce Platform Comparison for 2019

Below is a list of some of the best enterprise ecommerce software options available:

BigCommerce

  • Long a popular solution in the small-to-medium business space, BigCommerce has recently become a popular choice for mid-market and enterprise businesses as well.
  • It has a straightforward dashboard, top-rated SEO, many native features, and the advantages (like lower TCO and reduced deployment time) that come from SaaS.
  • BigCommerce has highly flexible APIs and a strong headless commerce offering (more on that shortly).
  • BigCommerce offers a personalized Enterprise Customer Onboarding, catalog transfer services, and robust educational resources to ease the re-platform process.
  • Enterprise Account Managers and Technical Account Managers also provide additional resources and personalized help to support enterprise clients’ needs.
  • BigCommerce also has a large team of partners and agencies who are experts on the platform and can assist with design, development, and SEO needs.
  • Because the platform has more native functionality, the learning curve may be more difficult than with some simpler platforms available.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud (previously Demandware) is a SaaS option for businesses looking to streamline their omnichannel retail.
  • It offers an integrated platform that enables businesses to manage their sales in digital and physical channels. with one unified solution.
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud is intended for B2C businesses, so if you are operating a B2B or hybrid business, you will want to look at Salesforce Cloudcraze, which will require additional work to integrate.
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud is an enterprise-focused offering which has continued to innovate with native AI tools to make personalization easy.
  • The disadvantage is that there are few agency partners with Salesforce Commerce Cloud making outsourcing development and design more difficult and costly.
  • Many solutions will also require custom integration in order to make them work with the platform.
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud is also part of a larger portfolio of software, so you may experience upselling or requirements to use other products within their offerings.

Magento Commerce

  • Formerly known as Magento Enterprise Edition, Magento Commerce has the flexibility to be an on-premise or cloud-hosted option.
  • It is part of the Adobe Experience Cloud as of 2018.
  • Magento allows you to have complete control of your platform, supports a large product catalog with many variants, has many native features related to product bundling, multi-store functionality, and more.
  • Magento also has a strong market presence and is a well-known brand.
  • To use Magento Commerce, you will likely have a heavy dependence on designers and developers as well as expensive maintenance and support, which can make it difficult to calculate your total cost of ownership.
  • Your business is also responsible for PCI compliance and updates. These updates can be very involved and can break your customizations and integrations with other systems.

SAP Hybris Commerce and Commerce Cloud

  • SAP Hybris Commerce can be hosted on-premise or through cloud infrastructures, and SAP Commerce Cloud is its cloud-based offering.
  • SAP Commerce Cloud (along with SAP Hybris) offer native functionality appealing to businesses with a large international presence including multi-site, multi-language, and multi-currency capabilities.
  • They also offer complex data management tools, options for multiple stores and catalogs and flexibility for heavy customization.
  • SAP Commerce Cloud is not a true SaaS product, and the business is responsible for the development, upgrades and patches, and any necessary customization. The startup costs and overall cost of ownership for these platforms is also very high.

Oracle Commerce Cloud

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud is the cloud-hosted product spin-off from the on-premise Oracle Commerce. Oracle Commerce Cloud supports both B2B and B2C customers in a number of verticals in a single SaaS platform.
  • Oracle Commerce Cloud was built with an API-first architecture that lends itself to flexibility in development.
  • The platform also has AI features and supports omnichannel strategies.
  • As with Salesforce, you may find difficulty accessing design and development partners who understand and work with the platform.
  • And as with Salesforce, Oracle Commerce Cloud is part of a larger portfolio of products that you may be required to use.
  • Additionally, you should pay close attention to which features are native to the product and which will require additional development and implementation costs to execute, so you don’t have any surprises later on.

IBM WebSphere Commerce

  • For the truly large enterprises from IKEA to Home Depot, IBM Websphere has long been the platform of choice.
  • Under the Websphere umbrella are several product options for different subsets of the enterprise market.
  • IBM WebSphere Commerce is an on-premise solution, but IBM also has created a SaaS offering called IBM Digital Commerce (which does not yet have all the B2B features that WebSphere Commerce does).
  • As a leader in enterprise ecommerce, IBM WebSphere supports very complex business needs with a wide range of built-in features.
  • It has a long history of being the powerhouse behind some very big enterprise clients.
  • The downside of a platform that can do a lot is a high cost of ownership. Make sure to budget for custom development and integration costs.
  • Additionally, IBM sold Websphere this year, so the future of the product remains uncertain.
  • IBM’s biggest strength historically has been their customer support, but what this looks like going forward may change.

Shopify Plus

  • Shopify has a strong market presence in the ecommerce space.
  • In 2014, they launched Shopify Plus as their solution for enterprise clients.
  • As a SaaS solution, the Shopify Plus platform offers the benefits of handled PCI compliance and security and solid uptime stats.
  • The Shopify Plus platform is also very easy-to-use, has mobile-friendly designs and the ability to customize the checkout.
  • Shopify Plus has a dedicated Merchant Success Manager and Launch Manager to assist their enterprise clients.
  • They have a robust catalog of apps, some of which are exclusive for Shopify Plus.
  • Shopify Plus relies on third-party apps to make up for gaps in native functionality.
  • This can greatly increase your total cost of ownership once you add in all of the apps you will require – this is $6,000 to $20,000 in-app costs per year in comparison to BigCommerce, for example.
  • Make sure to factor these costs into your decision-making process.
  • Additionally, you will need to pass data between your platform and third-party systems using APIs.
  • Shopify Plus is limited in their API capabilities to 10 requests per second (40 times slower than other platforms on the market like BigCommerce.)

A couple of other considerations:

  • Shopify plus includes up to 10 additional expansion stores which can be used for international expansion or B2B. Of course, depending on total sales, these aren’t free since cost is a percent of your GMV. The other downside to these expansion stores is that the vast majority of apps are priced per store. So, additional expansion stores can become pricey quick.
  • B2B functionality on wholesale channels is limited on Shopify Plus compared to other platforms. The design is super limited and doesn’t provide a B2C level experience.
  • Headless Commerce Options For Enterprise Brands
  • We talked earlier about the potential benefits of headless commerce and a more API-driven approach to your enterprise ecommerce platform.
  • Here are some questions to ask to help determine your business’s API needs.
  • This will not only be helpful in determining if an API-driven approach is right for your business but also how expensive it may be (as some solutions charge based on API calls).
  • Is your business commerce-first or user experience/content-first?
  • Do you require presentation layer APIs or only back-office APIs?
  • Is your data currently being transferred in near real-time from system to system?
  • Do you have a central data hub (like your ERP)? Can it connect to your ecommerce platform?
  • Are you building a monolithic system or a more agile spoke and hub system?
  • If a ‘decoupled’ solution is something that interests you, here are a few options to consider.

01

BigCommerce headless solutions

  • BigCommerce offers headless solutions that allow you to easily plug in a CMS through WordPress or Drupal or even have your own custom-built solution on the front-end. The backend is then supported by the BigCommerce SaaS platform.
  • This provides all of the advantages of the SaaS system (PCI compliance, checkout security, etc.) with a lot of flexibility to create unique, user-driven experiences on the frontend.
  • All you need is an API connection to decouple the presentation layer and then plug in the platform on the backend.
  • BigCommerce is also worth looking at from a budgeting standpoint as its headless solutions are usually significantly less expensive than other options on this list.
  • BigCommerce doesn’t offer a fully decoupled microservice architecture; however, it has industry-leading API calls of 400+ requests per second with no cap on the number of API calls. BigCommerce doesn’t charge based on the number of API calls your business uses.

02

Commercetools

  • Used in a wide range of industries, commercetools is a microservice-based and API-driven SaaS platform.
  • Commercetools provides the backend functionality, but you will need to integrate with web applications or digital experience platforms to complete the front end experience. Some third-party solutions are already pre-integrated via their APIs.
  • Commercetools can connect to all frontends and applications.
  • It can help businesses connect to a variety of digital touchpoints including mobile apps, IoT, AR/VR applications, and more for unique customer experiences.
  • Commercetools does have its limitations, especially in the B2B space.
  • It doesn’t provide the B2B features that other platforms do such as customer group specific catalogs and price lists.

03

Elastic Path

  • Providing ecommerce platforms for enterprises averaging anywhere from $10 million to $100 million in GMV in a number of different verticals, Elastic Path is known for its API-driven architecture.
  • Because Elastic Path provides the option for a fully decoupled headless solution, a business can essentially extend their existing non-transactional channel and create a rich, customer experience using DXPs.
  • While Elastic Path provides a lot of freedom for businesses to connect different microservices, it also has a steep learning curve for the non-tech-centered audience.
  • If you have less complex business needs, another solution may be easier to implement. Elastic Path is also a much more expensive option which may take it out of the running for some midmarket and smaller enterprise businesses.

04

Moltin

  • Moltin is another fully decoupled headless solution that allows you to attach Moltin’s services to your existing platform and any third-party systems you already use.
  • Moltin advertises its simplicity and flexibility to encourage speedy development.
  • One of the advantages of Moltin is that you can swap out the frontend easily.
  • You can also start adding inventory while the site is still being built, so teams can work concurrently.
  • Moltin charges based on API calls, so depending on your business needs, the product can be expensive.

10

How To Compare Your Enterprise Ecommerce Software Options

Now that you’ve seen a brief overview of the biggest players in the digital retail game and made a solid list of your business requirements, it’s time to start getting in depth with which platform is right for you.

Alas, there’s only so much we can do in a blog post to address your every question and concern.

However, I can point you in the right direction for where to go next.

01

Talk to the platform provider.

The platform provider is the greatest expert on the platform, its native features and what it can accomplish through third-party plugins and partnerships.

Once you have a short list of contenders, reach out to them to hear their pitch and have them answer your tough questions.

Be very clear about your business requirements, your priorities and where you can’t afford to compromise.

02

Attend ecommerce events.

Many ecommerce platforms also hold events that you can attend to learn more about them.

You can also often meet some of their industry partners so you can get a better sense of who you would need to work with to make the platform work for your business.

03

Speak to ecommerce consultants.

If you want a potentially more unbiased view, you may want to talk to some consultants who specialize in re-platforming and can share their experiences, along with any challenges or pitfalls, with moving enterprise clients from one platform to another.

04

Ask other merchants.

Talk to similar businesses (in terms of size, sales volume or other factors) who are already using the platform you are considering.

Find out what they like (or don’t like) about their platform’s features and its limitations. This is a great way to find relevant use cases and get firsthand knowledge.

05

Get feedback from development and/or marketing agencies.

Another good resource for firsthand intel? The marketing and development partners of your potential new platform.

These teams have in-depth experience working with the platform and can speak to some of the challenges you may encounter and ways to overcome them.

Executive Summary

As a business at the enterprise level, choosing a new ecommerce platform is a huge undertaking. You not only have to take a number of internal and external stakeholders’ needs into account when choosing an appropriate solution but also sell them on adopting it. While the start of a re-platforming project can feel like a massive integration and technology mountain to climb with many risks and unknowns, by planning and doing thorough requirements gathering from the start, you can choose a platform that is flexible, extensible, and scalable. You will be able to match the needs of your growing business and support your customers with the unbeatable experience they have some to associate with your brand.

The arrival of COVID-19 in the last few months of 2019 has hit businesses hard and has entirely overachieved in terms of everything that a pandemic is capable of doing. With millions filing unemployment claims, thousands of businesses closing their doors, and consumers becoming very thrifty, it begs the bigger question – What’s the recovery plan and how can businesses engage with customers to increase consumer confidence?

There exists a common notion that a nicely designed online experience with a half-decent UI can drive consumer engagement – nothing can be further away from the truth. Customers are constantly looking for unreal customer experiences – experiences that dig deep into the customer’s preferences, past behaviours and his/her overall emotional state. Businesses must always be looking at innovative ways of creating best-in-class experiences while decreasing the massive operating costs within the middle and back office functions.

What is Digital Transformation?

Put simply, digital transformation is the digitization of certain processes within an organization that may have been manual or inefficient. Digital transformation is not a one size fits all process and can range in complexity depending on the organization. It can be the rollout of a digitization strategy in a single department or it can be an enterprise-wide change.

A transformation is entirely based on where a company is within its’ digital lifecycle. Some companies are at the very beginning and others are more advanced. Most often, digitization includes the implementation of a whole new suite of applications or improvements to older systems. 

In-House vs. Digital Consultants

For those companies ready to invest in digital transformation, it is vital to ensure that you are entirely confident in your in-house team’s ability to implement a digital transformation strategy. If you are not 100% confident, you may want to explore working with a partner to help with the job. This digital partner should have the ability to support with the end to end digital transformation strategy, KPI analysis, requirement gathering, digital engineering, UI creation, testing and more.

The general processes outlined above allow businesses to assess customer pain points and business goals. From a consumer perspective, through effective segmentation of their online visitors, these steps can allow businesses to speak to consumers in a more meaningful way, drive further ROI and allow for significant cost cutting. To ensure a business is ready for such a process, internal stakeholders must have confidence in its internal team’s expertise to implement solutions or leverage that of a consulting partner for the job. In any event, the company must execute a thorough gap and requirement analysis of the company’s pain points and digital goals. Following this, a complete customer journey map is created to ensure customers get what they need seamlessly with the least amount of friction. Companies must inevitably be able to create a digital map of their services and channels, while integrating data analytics and insights into everything they do. This process is intended to give more visibility and insight into what is going on with customers and make better / more insightful decisions.

Data & Digital Transformation Go Hand-in-Hand

There’s a plethora of data present online, waiting to be used by businesses. However, only 7% of businesses are using their data effectively. Unfortunately, most businesses miss out on 90% of the dark data, which most organization classify as useless. Consulting firms, specialized in digital transformation and data intelligence can help to uncover dark data, decipher customer pain points and take action to improve the customer’s online experience. Through the effective use of data and predictive modelling, businesses can drastically improve a customer’s experience and increase the ROI and LTV of their customers.

Don’t Settle for Mediocrity

In the past, disruptions have stymied digital transformational movements across industries – this was seen post the 9/11 attacks as well as during the 2008 financial crisis. Post the recession, companies fell back into safe mode – a traditional ecosystem – resulting in the lack of digital growth and innovation. In these times however, when the global economy is seeing a major shutdown, companies cannot settle for mediocrity … they must innovate as many of their competitors will not; thus allowing them to leapfrog over competition.

Final Thoughts

Digital Transformation massively impacts how consumers respond to a company and its’ offerings. Companies with exceptional digital experiences can survive economic volatility and adapt more quickly than those without. All in all, it depends on how far companies are willing to go to fight complacency and invest in solutions that drive excellent customer experiences. If you are seeking a partner to support with your digital transformation, Transcend Digital can support you on this journey so long as you’re willing to take the leap.

Over the past decade, the battlefield for modern businesses has entirely changed. Brands that traditionally battle on the basis of innovation and technology have in recent years given their highest priority to creating differentiating customer experiences. Statistics don’t lie – while only 36% of companies used to compete on the primary basis of CX in 2010, more than 89% of customers battle it out to provide the highest levels of CX in 2020.

So what are customers expecting during their journey with a brand? Customers not only expect personalized experiences based on their taste, preferences, previous activities and priorities, they also expect consistency across each touchpoint in the customer journey. Brands that can provide such consistency will win, thus positioning themselves for long-term sustainability.

3 ways on how brands can engage with their customers through heightened CX

01

CX and Data are interlinked – One cannot exist without the other. Brands should make use of the 90% of dark data that’s sitting in plain sight.

Brands should move from an account centric approach towards a customer centric approach. With current digital technology and the plethora of customer data that’s available, businesses should seek to integrate their front, middle and back office operations digitally. This allows businesses to capture customer data in a more cohesive manner, thus creating a golden record for each customer. Such a record gives an organization an in-depth analysis of a consumer’s digital footprint across browsers, devices and channels, thus being able to provide more personalized experience for customers.

02

A single negative customer review has 4 to 5 times more impact than a single positive review.

In today’s volatile climate, word-of-mouth marketing has become paramount for brands. An example of this is chewy.com, a platform that has garnered the respect of consumers due its’ heavy focus and continued investment into customer experience. This investment has paid off heavily during the pandemic as chewy.com has thrived on word-of-mouth of marketing and overall brand perception. United Airlines on the other hand experienced a loss of 1.4 billion USD overnight due to a single bad experience that went viral. It’s very important to remember that businesses aren’t dealing with loyal boomers anymore. The average millennial and Gen-Z consumer prefer consistent experiences and brand agility when dealing with issues. Brands with the ability to adapt to market conditions and rapidly overcome negative consumer sentiment (which is inevitable) will stand the test of time.

03

According to Forrester, nearly 95% of customers use 3 or more channels to engage with a brand and more than 65% use more than 1 device

In our modern digital age, to heighten CX, brands must focus heavily on enhancing omnichannel experience. The average British household has more than 7 internet devices and similar statistics are seen in countries all over the world including the U.S., India and Australia. Consumers that experience a cohesive customer experiences across different devices, platforms and channels statistically spend more time and money with a particular brand. Moreover, positive word-of-mouth marketing and a brand’s ability to cross sell are contingent on a customer’s omnichannel experience expectations being met.

Brands that act on CX today will be the face of their industry tomorrow.

Digital transformation is a daunting  task for any organization. More often than not, the initiatives suffer serious delays, setbacks and can even lead to failure. Digital transformation is both an art and a science …  the same approach cannot be applied to all companies given that every company has different challenges and goals.

What is Digital Transformation?

Put simply, digital transformation is the digitization of certain processes within an organization that may have been manual or inefficient. Digital transformation is not a one size fits all process and can range in complexity depending on the organization. It can be the rollout of a digitization strategy in a single department or it can be an enterprise-wide change.

A transformation is entirely based on where a company is within its’ digital lifecycle. Some companies are at the very beginning and others are more advanced. Most often, digitization includes the implementation of a whole new suite of applications or improvements to older systems.

Some may argue that digital transformation is not a critical component of an organization and that it is not easy to track the return on investment post implementation. In order to properly evaluate ROI, an organization must have the right KPI’s in place to gauge performance. Most companies struggle with digital transformation due to their lack of framework development for measuring success.

Digital KPIs have to be created in an efficient and straightforward manner with buy-in from all stakeholders, not just the IT departments. It is important to note that KPIs that work for a particular organization may not work for another. The digital transformation KPIs should be understood by all relevant departments (IT, marketing, finance, etc.), and should be well documented with transparency, accountability and buy in from stakeholders.

The success of digital transformation will be determined by the formulation of well-defined KPIs. It is essential to monitor the progress and indulge in course correction to ensure that your investment into such a digitization process is justified. The absence of clearly structured transformation measure may lead to the overall failure of such an initiative.

Before setting internal KPIs, you must analyze your organization and where it currently stands.

Identify the Following

  • Market positioning
  • Marketing budgets across digital channels
  • Level of digital maturity internally – training and experience of partners, employees and management
  • Current revenue breakout and future goals across digital channels
  • Interdependencies of company departments in digital initiatives

KPI’s to Measure Success

Customer Focused KPI’s

  • New customer acquisition rate
  • Lifetime value of customers
  • Improved user experience (score)
  • Increase in customer engagement across digital channels
  • Reduced time to market for new products
  • Changes in customer/user behavior

Business Focused KPI’s

  • Innovation projects being implemented across an organization and the level of success
  • New products or services being launched vs. core business (as a percentage of revenues)
  • Business models adopted for various markets
  • New applications, technologies and innovative solutions being applied to reach digital goals
  • Adaptation to new situations or markets

Be Proactive When Navigating Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a choice and organizations must be ahead of the curve when it comes to spotting trends and adapting their existing frameworks. If successfully calculated and implemented, a company can create new opportunities and develop deeper connections with customers across all major touchpoints. If you are seeking a partner to help you navigate the process, set foundational KPIs and execute a digital transformation initiative, Transcend Digital is here to support. 

Prior to the pandemic, many organizations had issues comprehending the intricacies of their business operations. Now, with COVID-19 causing a paradigm shift in the marketplace, businesses are running blind due to the lack of data intelligence, clueless on how to make the bleeding stop. That’s exactly where businesses have to focus – improving critical business reporting and insights.

Success for a brand can only be deciphered using data and insights; thus allowing managers to make better short and long-term decisions. However, more often than not, the data is irregular, chaotic and difficult to comprehend causing managers and business leaders to miss out on the intelligence that lies within. That’s why, at this critical juncture, businesses should focus on cleaning up their critical business reporting. Here are some ways to do this:

Have a data warehouse for all your data

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a system that pulls together data from many different sources within an organization for reporting and analysis. The reports created from complex queries within a data warehouse are used to make business decisions.

A data warehouse stores historical data about your business so that you can analyze and extract insights from it. It does not store current information, nor is it updated in real-time.

A data warehouse stores historical data about your business so that you can analyze and extract insights from it. It does not store current information, nor is it updated in real-time.

Until now, many business analysts were missing a holistic view of all of their raw data across departments. However, shifting to a co-located data warehouse can help analysts to more comprehensively assess business problems while also aiding in real time reporting. At a critical time like this, businesses with single cross-departmental data frameworks can uncover significantly more operational data; in turn, helping organizations craft solutions to unexpected problems that may arise.

Uncover rich data and use the right metrics

Data is the clear MVP for businesses. From generating insights to personalizing solutions and improving CX and OX, data plays a massive role in the success of businesses and its’ reporting processes. However, while businesses that use their data wisely see a 35% Y-o-Y growth and a 10% increase in productivity, only 7% of businesses are part of this club. To alter this trend, businesses need to have a better data ingestion process. Analysts must have access to the right data at the right time in order to create roadmaps and projections that would enable management to set targets and identify trends, especially right now during this state of flux.

Enter into the world of visualization

During difficult times, businesses that are able to visualize their operations through the use of data are better positioned than those that cannot – the availability of real time data and relevant dashboarding helps businesses understand in a more detailed manner how they are going to get where they are seeking to go. Compare the use of data to that of using a GPS to get from one point to another. Without the GPS (i.e. Data), you are shooting in the dark and may take a round-about way of getting somewhere or not get to your destination at all. Marketing, operations and inter-department management tools that integrate with dashboards can provide management the visibility they need to identify strengths, weaknesses, foundational KPIs, etc. Having this tool in the shed will enable business leaders to assess and highlight anomalies, risks and opportunities while clearly arriving on focal points that can help businesses survive during such a crisis.

Final Thoughts

As the wheels of many businesses globally are falling off, brands cannot blindly move forward, oblivious to the whirlpool that is sucking them in. With all of this being said, the coronavirus pandemic and all the economic contractions that it brings with it does have a silver lining – businesses are becoming more aware of the need to implement critical and intelligent reporting systems that take advantage of data and automation, while replacing outdated systems for integrated ones. The survival of many businesses and the efficiency of others, will heavily depend on updating outdated GPS systems with new and improved ones.

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