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Is your home-grown e-commerce solution weighing you down?

There are a lot of great big happy projections hitting the headlines about e-commerce growth and its potential. In 2014, the global e-commerce market reportedly exceeded $1.3 trillion, lead by the US and China. And apparently this is just the beginning: the US Department of Commerce says that just 7% of US retail is online. Extrapolate that out to China and the rest of the world, and you can see why e-commerce platform vendors and their partners are very, very excited.

Heavily overloaded donkeys carrying straw, Ethiopia

And they should be, judging from the results of a recent survey we conducted of 200 executive decision makers in five countries (Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US), working at companies at least $500 million in annual revenue. Nearly all respondents said they currently used an e-commerce solution, but 40% of that group reported their solution was a proprietary one, built and managed in-house. This was larger than the proportion of respondents who reported using licensed on-premise or cloud e-commerce solutions, which were 36% and 13%, respectively.

That 40% translates into a lot of organizations spending a lot of time and resources managing an increasingly complex area. While the underlying e-commerce platform technology is generally considered fairly straightforward, the demands of customer experience management means that platform now needs to integrate with many other applications – CRM, marketing automation, and content management systems, just to name a few – that may be managed elsewhere in an organization. Add on the need for organizations to go mobile, multichannel, and global, and you can see that the built for purpose platform that a (now possibly defunct) systems integrator or departed IT director may have constructed for you fifteen years ago may no longer be fit for purpose.

If you are in a medium to large enterprise and are managing or working with a proprietary e-commerce platform, you probably  have vendors of various stripes knocking on your door trying to sell you their solution, and are faced with a bewildering array of choices. If you have total revenues between a few hundred million and $1 billion, the big three e-commerce vendors of Oracle, hybris/SAP, and IBM will offer you some solutions they have tailored based on what they do for larger enterprises. If you are smaller than that, there is still an ever-widening  variety of open source and vendor solutions available.  This is where you will need to be wary: if you are a B2B manufacturer, for example, the vendor you’ve been reading about who has a lot of well-known retail clothing brands may not be the best fit for you. Alternatively, if you are a rapidly-growing online-only retailer and are looking to increase in scale quickly in several markets at once, you’ll want to consider what type of solution best fits that strategy.

If you are in that 40% of organizations with a home-grown e-commerce solution that is weighing you down but find yourself bewildered by these choices and unsure of how to evaluate them, you might consider hiring a service provider with extensive e-commerce experience who can help you pinpoint your requirements and ensure you get a vendor that is right for your organization. We can help you identify potential service providers should you go this route, as well as advise you on vendor selection: contact us for more information. E-commerce is now so much more than just a shopping cart. In the customer-centric era, it is part of the overall experience that a customer has with your organization, and it is too important to be “good enough.”

Interested in learning more about service provider and vendor selection? Check out these DCG tools and reports (free for download with registration:)

Stakeholder Analysis for Project Participation, Workshop, and Interview Planning
Cross-Border E-Commerce: A Maturity Roadmap and Partner Selection Guide
How Agencies Can Bridge Gaps for Mid-Market Success



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