Category: B2B eCommerce
The third installment in our eCommerce platform comparison blog series will focus on “industry-specific” eCommerce software.
We often have conversations with businesses who use eCommerce software designed for their specific industry. For example, an auto parts distributor might come to us frustrated with RevolutionParts, or a grocery wholesaler and retailer with hundreds of locations may be looking at FreshOp.
For a lot of organizations, there is an initial appeal of an eCommerce software designed for their business vertical – “they must really get me and my needs,” companies shopping for these software solutions often think. But as we talk to companies vetting these software options, the initial appeal is often quickly overshadowed by the lack of desired flexibility, agility, and scalability that their business needs today, or more often down the line.
When making an eCommerce solution decision today, there’s a number of eCommerce capabilities that your organization needs in order to respond to the rapidly changing business environment, deliver what your customers expect, and to see optimal ROI.
If you’re vetting an industry-specific eCommerce platform, here is a list of 4 essential eCommerce features and capabilities we recommend that will help you avoid replatforming again and again.
1. Composable Architecture that Supports Seamless Integrations
Modern business technology is steadily transitioning from monolithic architecture of the past to modular, composable architecture that is easier to plug into a modern technology stack.
We outlined in a previous post (The 3 C’s of Enterprise B2B eCommerce) a danger you often meet when your platform is not composable:
A worst-case scenario is when a customer doesn’t understand why they can’t get a product online and they check with their sales rep (who checks another system) and sees the product is available at the warehouse and then loops in customer service (who checks yet another system) and sees that the product was only allocated for another critical customer in the region. Those interactions can cause a loss of confidence in your commerce strategy and your ability to manage the complete customer experience.
What sometimes comes out of those scenarios is each solution silo goes after improving the data and logic accuracy of their own area vs. adopting an API-first or headless architecture (MACH) where you establish one source of truth which powers solutions that are customer, sales, and support facing to establish consistency in experience and technology investment for your company. This is omni-channel for the B2B enterprise.
2. Cloud-Native, Versionless
Cloud-native technology platforms are built to be hosted and deployed on the cloud and never on-premise. Cloud-native development is an approach to building and updating apps quickly, while improving quality and reducing risk. More specifically, it’s a way to build and run responsive, scalable, and fault-tolerant apps anywhere.
While some traditional eCommerce software providers offer “cloud-hosting” capabilities, the ability to reduce cost, risk, and errors is drastically reduced when compared to a true cloud-native platform. This is known as “cloudwashing”.
With a truly cloud-native eCommerce platform, you’ll empower your organization with optimal security and stability so that you never experience any down time on your solution. Also, you can infinitely scale your business on the cloud regardless of the number of orders, users, and products you have going through your online shop.
Cloud-native applications are also versionless: the technology is updated and improved seamlessly without you ever having to re-platform or suffer any down time. Traditional software is updated as part of different versions. When drastic updates are released, it is common to have long downtimes or even need to re-platform.
3. Headless, Customizable
The most customizable eCommerce solutions are powered by a headless eCommerce platform.
Does your business have unique operational workflows? Can you fit your business into the confines of an out-of-the-box software, or would you like to purchase and use an eCommerce software built for your unique needs?
Typically, industry-specific eCommerce software comes with a big set of assumptions about how you do your business based on similar companies in your field. It’s easy to fall into the “I want to buy that specific experience” trap that often comes with out-of-the-box, indsutry-specific solutions. When you go this route, it often falls short in its ability to deliver the experience your users ultimately need. But, if your company is very different from your competitors and you need to customize your solution, you may need a more modern, headless technology.
4. Owned by You
When you purchase the license to many industry-specific, out-of-the-box eCommerce softwares,, you don’t own your solution. If you don’t keep paying the license fees, you lose access to your solution. You’re also very limited with what you can do with regards to new features, configurations, and users because you don’t own the code base.
Finding a new eCommerce solution is very costly. Of course, you can find another new eCommerce platform that fits your needs. But, do you foresee your needs changing in the future as the market and your business evolve and adapt? Many of our customers came to us because their current eCommerce software no longer supports their organization’s vision. In fact, they had to fit their vision into the confines of the product.
With modern, API-first eCommerce platforms like OrderCloud, you can build and deploy a solution that’s owned by you. That way, no matter what changes your business faces, you can roll out new features, adjust your UI, plug-in different integrations, expand to new markets and channels, and enjoy full flexibility.
So, if you’re looking at an industry-specific solution, make sure that you own the final product and have full flexibility in customizing and changing it to suit your needs.
Depending on your industry, you might be able to find a vertical-specific vendor that checks off all the above requirements. But it’s important to make sure the software will also check your boxes in a few months or years so that you can avoid replatforming again.
Having a strong commerce strategy for B2B will help future-proof your commerce roadmap. Make sure the software you are choosing supports your needs for the 3 C’s of B2B eCommerce:
- Customization – Do you have to change the way your business runs in order for this software to work? If so, find a platform that will mirror the way you model your business so that you can continue to differentiate your value proposition via technology overtime.
- Consistency – Can you easily extend your commerce experience to new channels (Sales reps, in-store retail (P.O.S.), IoT, etc.) and new markets (B2C eCommerce, existing D2C marketplaces, i.e. Amazon)? If not, consider an alternative that takes a modern approach to API-first or headless architecture (MACH) because it will allow you to establish consistent visibility and logic across experiences for your customers and employees.
- Control – Are you in the driver’s seat in managing supply allocation, pricing, and licensing control across as you enter new markets? If not, don’t lock yourself in.