Investing in enterprise e-commerce has gotten easier
The buyer of new e-commerce systems is trusted with a particularly business-critical decision. In some cases the task might even make for a make-or-break moment. Oftentimes the company has already been scorned by bad IT investments once or twice, which contributes to making the procurement procedure go from interesting and inspiring to riddled with anxiety and cautiousness. Today, it is no longer as difficult as it was only a year ago to make a good decision regarding e-commerce. Jörgen Bertilsson at Avensia explains why.
Anyone who has once procured an e-commerce system can probably recognize the following dilemma: there is a plethora of platforms to investigate, with lots of varying functionality.
The platform should be able to integrate with the company’s surrounding systems, such as business systems, POS systems, logistics, stock, PIM, etc. On top of that, the platform needs to be scalable, cheap to administrate and it should be easy to add or subtract functionality. Last but not least, it is important to have insight into the platform’s road map, and there should be consultants available to further develop it.
In a sea of hard-to-get functionality, complicated license models and unpredictable consultant fees, quite a few bad investments take place. Jörgen Bertilsson at Avensia says it has unfortunately been quite hard to procure e-commerce systems — not to mention painful. Many times companies have chosen a much too large platform that has been much too costly. However, these missteps have led to system market that is more mature, and informed the practice of procuring systems. Today there are systems covering the whole value chain, interacting in real time and ready for instant use, sans the long implementation times.
”That’s how development works. Big companies have invested millions in their e-commerce, and experiences from these projects have made for what is today. Now, there are products starting up in just a day at a fraction of earlier costs, connecting to and from systems with one click. What’s happened on the market in the past year is incredible,” Jörgen Bertilsson, Vice President at Avensia, explains.
Below, Jörgen Bertilsson explains just what has changed and how it works.
You can now set up new business systems, e-commerce or other applications via a service that generates complete environments for e-commerce, PIM, stock, purchases and finances in the cloud. A predictable startup that works the same way every time, because it is created in a completely new environment. This is relatively new and is now offered by Microsoft with Life Cycle Services (LCS), but we can count on more companies to come up with similar services soon.
Best of breed in a collaborative environment
The integrations formerly built for every specific system mostly exist as ready-made plugins. Many larger platforms have plugins with the best surrounding systems for ERP, marketing automation, search engines and payment services.
Today, companies can update modern platforms several times a year without any extensive help from consultants. Providers have been talking about this for years, but amongst the bigger systems its only just become a reality in the past two years. That is made possible partly through a more modern architecture of the e-commerce systems that distinguishes the core from client adjustments, but also through better demands set by clients that now understand the importance of not diverting too much from the standard functionality of their implementation. In many of our implementations, we now update the software every other week.
A complete implementation with integrations and continuous support for the last versions of the software is delivered. There is no need for manual patches, as everything is done automatically.
Problems with scalability are handled as everything exists in the cloud. The unique thing about a cloud service is that it automatically scales. In other words, it is not necessary to purchase computer power to handle max capacity, rather, the company would only pay for what it utilizes. This provides extraordinary advantages for retail companies that often experience a significant surge in traffic at specific times of the year, such as Black Friday, Christmas, etc. For international companies it also gives great advantages in that they won’t have to manage servers in several countries.
Well developed solutions for fundamental parts of e-commerce already exist, such as check out and other startup templates. E-commerce platforms today make for more complete products that could practically be up and running instantly. Support is oftentimes already put in place for customizations, and the restructuring of functionality can also be handled if needed.
The business systems of today are more compatible with e-commerce. More than anything, they are adjusted for multichannel sales, which formerly has not been the case. A great example of this is Microsoft Dynamics AX, which has a retail module that gives full support for all sales channels, tying the systems together in real time.
Companies have become better e-commerce clients as many have already been through one or two procurements before. A greater understanding for e-commerce has made it possible for companies to set clearer demand specifications.
third party providers
Third party providers now have a greater understanding for the big picture surrounding e-commerce and omni-channel than before. There are better systems, customizations and consultations in place than there were just a few years ago.