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Help, I’ve outgrown my eCommerce platform

Last updated: 21 Jun 2019

All retailers are starting to understand that in order to survive in today's competitive climate, driving an omnichannel commerce experience is a must.

Scaling for transactional opportunities while providing a smooth shopping journey and keeping customer touchpoints engaging is challenging but imminent, and often a change in eCommerce strategy is required to make it happen.

The current fast-paced commerce world demands equally fast-paced and agile eCommerce platforms to balance customer needs and demanding backend requirements.

 

How do I know if I’ve outgrown my eCommerce platform?

As your business grows, it is important to keep re-evaluating your customer base and their needs to ensure the commerce experience you currently provide still meets demands and expectations.

Typically, when it comes to digital solutions, things you should be constantly testing and evaluating are performance and speed, accessibility, ability to withstand a huge traffic spike or request load, and whether your channel looks modern and engaging enough. For brick and mortars, the most vital components shaping the success are quite similar. If your shop can’t keep up the pace with an increase in-store visitors, customers will leave and just go to your competitors instead. It is important to evaluate your current POS system, inventory management, checkout and overall transactional methods you have for an in-store customer.

Now, if you find yourself in a situation where you know you need to make a change - which could be anything from wanting to add a new feature or integration, optimizing performance, changing the technology stack or even adding a new transactional channel - but it’s impossible to do so with your current commerce stack, you know that you’ve outgrown your eCommerce platform.

Take a look at this list of major headaches indicating that your platform needs refreshing. If you can identify with at least one of them, then you know it’s time to start thinking about upgrading.

 

  • You’re spending the majority of your budget and time on development work fixing bugs and patching up your current system to work properly. Instead, you could be spending money on marketing campaigns raising awareness for your brand and product.
  • Your current solution can’t keep up with the traffic growth and you’ve experienced at least one website downtime during peak sales.
  • You find yourself adding more and more plugins which make your system slow and unruly.
  • Instead of innovating and adding new features, you end up customizing your system so that it works as expected.
  • Your system doesn’t allow you to store data vital for your business growth.
  • You are unable to expand to new market opportunities to boost sales.
  • You are unable to increase customer engagement, because your system doesn’t allow for customizing customer loyalty programs you already have in place.
  • You can’t update your current technology stack because your platform won’t be compatible.

 

Innovating on top of your existing platform with a headless solution

Realizing that you’ve outgrown your current platform is the first step to innovation. Don’t be scared, innovation doesn’t have to be drastic. There’s no need to tear down your current architecture; not unless you want to.

You may be wondering how you can innovate when your platform clearly doesn’t allow for it. The answer is simple, use APIs. They’re easy to use and you can build new commerce experiences on top of your current solution.

This is great news for those who want to react quickly to the ever-changing commerce space and push out a solution with a great speed to market. Implementing APIs into your system typically doesn’t take more than a month, so you can always rest assured you’ll be on top of things.

Moltin is an example of a headless API-first solution that enables open commerce architecture providing technology in an open, easy to use and accessible format. You are free to implement, customize, and scale any technology stack at a pace tailored to your individual business needs.

For example, if you’re a brick and mortar owner and you are looking for a way to help streamline the checkout process especially during peak holiday season, you could invest in an In-Store Self Checkout Solution that is easy to plug into your existing POS and inventory systems. Similarly, if you want to add a mobile channel to your already existing website, you can use APIs to create a mobile app or a browser-based progressive web app that recreates the look and feel of your site for a consistent shopping journey.

Often, you may realize that you lack a certain solution, like a more complex tax calculator, or additional shipping provider. That’s where third party integrations come in handy. They are not free, but there are a lot of solutions out there on the market, making it  fairly easy to find a solution that is just right for your technology stack and budget. So, if you’re looking to add a third party integration that you know is needed for your business, you can also implement it through an API-based solution that will glue the integration to your current platform.

 

Replatforming

If you decide the best approach for you to continue to grow is to tear down your existing solution and go for a more modern approach, you need to make sure you know what you’re signing up for. We have created a bunch of articles to help you decide which commerce solution seems best fit for you, which platform is best for website performance, and what to consider when planning for the big move.

Recapping the articles, the most important thing for you is to have a solid idea of what is it that you want from the platform - is it speed, an all-in-one solution, ease of implementation, the ability to grow with business, the ability to update the technology stack as need be, etc?

You also need to ask yourself whether your chosen new solution will future proof your business so you don’t have to be looking to replatform again in a couple of years time.

 

Summary

Outgrowing a platform is not a bad thing. It means that your business is thriving and it’s time to ride the innovation wave and act upon your current success to guarantee your future success. Remember that innovation doesn’t have to be anything crazy and costly, it can simply mean building something on top of your current solution so you don’t have to worry about breaking the, often brittle, backend keeping your current stack alive.

As important as it is to know when to go forward and start innovating is knowing your budget limitations, too. If you can’t afford to splurge on a cutting-edge modern commerce solution you had your eyes on for months, know that you can innovate step-by-step, plugging in only the parts you absolutely need to stay on top of the market and differentiate your brand.

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