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How Modern Ecommerce Platforms Address IT Challenges of Growing Retailers

Nathan Joynt
CX Cloud Business Group

Retailers and enterprise ecommerce leaders are leveraging one of the greatest virtues of cloud computing, the ability to move a significant amount of the IT budget away from low-value hosting and data infrastructure and toward maximizing customer experiences.

Many IT leaders within ecommerce businesses favor this transformation, as it’s an opportunity to redefine their roles. To focus on innovation rather than maintenance. To focus on driving new initiatives and optimizing forecasting, purchasing, and inventory management.

It’s not just IT teams that benefit from this move to the cloud. Retail and ecommerce leaders understand the pains of trying to grow with dated commerce technology. It’s common to have separate ERP, CRM, and ecommerce platforms connected and working together. Unified cloud-based technology can help.

70 percent of IT leaders believe cloud computing makes them more agile

This is according to Oracle data. In-house IT leaders want their infrastructure to be a leading partner of the business units in increasing sales, improving time to market, and facilitating service. However, the demands of marketing and merchandising teams, for example, add pressure to not only maintain all the costly hardware and software but to provide more insightful data and to support sales growth initiatives such as mobile, multichannel retailing, and internationalization.

If the IT team is focused on hosting and maintaining the never-ending cycle of integrations between disparate systems and synchronizing customer data, little time is left to provide additional support to business leaders. A unified cloud commerce solution with native integration for systems including ERP and CRM will alleviate this.

Maintaining a proprietary commerce platform increases the struggle to keep up with internal business demand. Cloud technology can boost support across the organization, be it support for sales, ecommerce, or fulfillment setup and management. This adds agility where it’s needed most.

Common IT challenges of growing retailers with proprietary commerce solutions

Ecommerce IT Innovation

  1. Maintenance versus innovation. On average, businesses spend four times more on IT maintenance than innovation. Deployment, management, monitoring, patching, security, and system upgrades all must be addressed with on-premises proprietary solutions. Cloud solutions have the power to reduce IT costs by up to 50 percent and provide 90 percent faster deployment and application access.
  2. Proprietary commerce technology is prone to stagnation. It’s a tall order to expect midmarket and enterprise retailers to keep up with consumer expectations. They need to focus on their business, not technology. That’s why it’s important to arm commerce businesses with cloud-based technology that empowers them to create desired customer experiences independent of IT resources.
  3. Outdated administrative and business-user tools. With proprietary technology comes a higher likelihood of outdated business tools and an over-reliance on IT and web development resources. This stifles innovation on all business fronts. A common scenario is a retailer that wants to develop mobile-first experiences on a platform that can’t support mobile-first design. If ecommerce replatforming (moving their ecommerce system to a new platform) isn’t an option, they may be forced to look for new technology to bolt on to an existing system. Although short-term costs may be minimal with this approach, the strategy adds to the issues of maintaining disparate systems and is unlikely to address future expansion.
  4. Over-reliance on specialized skills. Homegrown and open source commerce technology requires very specific skills to set up and maintain. The more custom the build, the more dependence on specific individuals. While there are communities devoted to open source development and retailers may be fortunate enough to find talent for custom builds, that isn’t the case for a proprietary solution. If the current vendor or the hired resource is no longer available to maintain the technology, a retailer may find itself in a difficult hiring position. It’s also very rare to find employees who will be satisfied long term with legacy technology they didn’t create.
  5. Poor website performance equals a poor user experience. Modern digital experiences mandate fast-loading websites that work for any device. According to a Dyn survey, nearly 65% of global consumers aren’t willing to wait more than three seconds for a website to load. An IT team focused on performance issues on a proprietary system is destined to fall behind. Managing outages and downtime due to attacks, traffic spikes, and other issues will also affect website performance. These issues are immediately addressed with modern cloud technology.
  6. Security requirements such as PCI compliance. Selling directly to consumers online means certain security measures must be taken to protect personal data such as credit card information. The road to becoming PCI compliant presents a significant up-front investment and is also a long-term undertaking for IT teams. Secure, cloud-based technology alleviates this necessity.
  7. Platform extensibility issues. Considering all the touchpoints and integrations retailers require today and in anticipation for emerging technology and omnichannel aspirations, cloud commerce platforms that prioritize APIs have a clear advantage from an extensibility perspective. IT teams will also benefit from a dependable, automated deployment environment that’s all web-based.

The final consideration that’s driving retailers to replatform

final-ecommerce-consideration

From a total-cost-of-ownership perspective, many established businesses realize they shouldn’t invest in proprietary ecommerce platforms. Inevitable issues range from poor platform performance to maintenance difficulties to outdated business-user tools. Departments will become siloed and collaboration will break down. The business’s bottom line is always at the heart of the decision to replatform. How much is the business spending on maintenance rather than innovation? Innovation is necessary in the consumer-driven world. Many growth-oriented retailers may not even consider replatforming if it weren’t for their inability to deliver on ever-evolving, expected customer experiences at scale.

Leading cloud technology companies, including Oracle, have perfected not only software-as-a-service commerce technology but the platform and secure infrastructure needed to progress indefinitely. Among the many highlights of Oracle Commerce Cloud is reliable scheduling for software updates and upgrades. Reliability with proprietary systems depends on the vendors or people hired to create them. Calculating total cost of ownership of a SaaS ecommerce solution like Commerce Cloud will always be more predictable than a proprietary solution.

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