Small Company or Enterprise Ecommerce Platform?
In today’s marketplace there are no shortages of options for organizations when reviewing cloud-based ecommerce platforms – but one needs to be aware that not all platforms are the same or are even targeted towards the same customers.
Software vendors target distinct tiers of customers when creating and selling their platform and understanding the differences is key to choosing a platform that will not only meet your immediate needs but also is appropriate in the future.
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Typically, the market is divided into the following segments: small business (under $5MM in revenue), mid-size ($5MM - $100MM), large ($100MM to $1B), and enterprise ($1B plus).
In the smaller segments very low start up costs and pre-packaged templates and capabilities are critical because smaller organizations typically do not have internal IT staff or the budget to hire external resources, so the focus is primarily on price and out- of- the- box features. These products also typically have built in connections to other products which live in the same market space such as accounting systems, marketing platforms, etc.
The downside of these products is that they typically do not have the underlying framework to support the needs of the enterprise market, which favors feature-rich platforms over minimizing cost of ownership.
Enterprise eCommerce Software Capabilities
What makes something an enterprise- level ecommerce platform?
We talked a bit about the top priorities small and midsize software players focus on, but what type of capabilities do the best enterprise ecommerce platforms provide? Of course, the basic components are always included: cart, product catalogs, checkout, and promotions, but when considering enterprise ecommerce solutions we should also be looking for:
Scalability: Ability to handle thousands of simultaneous users
Support for more enterprise software development practices: Separate Dev, QA, UAT, and Production instances
Integrations with enterprise ERPs: SAP ECC and S4/HANA, Oracle, JD Edwards
Fully featured Product Information Management (PIM) capabilities
B2B and B2C features (more on these below!)
Support for delegation of responsibility (multiple organizational roles)
Integrated content management system (CMS)
Configurable Merchandising and Search
B2B Features and Support
The best enterprise ecommerce platform is one that can support both the B2C and B2B customer workflow. Most of the small business platforms are primarily focused on B2C, but for large organizations the B2B capabilities become much more important.
Why is B2B some important? Because larger enterprises are discovering how enterprise ecommerce solutions can enhance customer satisfaction while reducing the burden on sales and support staff. When doing a enterprise ecommerce platform comparison it is imperative to look for the following B2B capabilities:
Customer Specific Pricing – B2B customers often have specific pricing tied to their account, they shouldn’t be presented with the “generic” price, but rather the pre-negotiated price.
Quoting Workflow – B2B customers often request special pricing from their sales rep. To truly make this process digital the e-commerce platform needs to support the option for a customer to ask for a custom quote on the items in their shopping cart. This quoting process should be natively integrated into an enterprise level ecommerce platform
Punch Out Support – “Punch Out” is when a user of a procurement platform, like Ariba, jumps out of the platform to shop on a B2B commerce site, and the comes back with a full cart to be processed in the procurement platform. If you have large enterprise customers they probably are using a platform – and giving them the opportunity to have the best shopping experience will increase the size of cart and revenue. Enterprise ecommerce software supports this feature natively.
Security, Roles and Responsibility
Splitting up the work
In small organizations there are typically only one or two people handling the ecommerce site, but in large enterprises there are many product managers, e-commerce marketers, content creators, and pricing managers. An enterprise e-commerce platform should allow the administrator to create roles and responsibilities associated with each one. Different team members can then be assigned to particular roles. This allows the division of labor in a controller manner and ensures there are no “rogue” players making changes to the site. The product catalog management can even be partitioned by category or type of product, allowing product managers to have full control of only their products.
With all the discussion around integration and workflow we don’t want to forget that the key value of an enterprise ecommerce platform is selling more product! The enterprise ecommerce platforms allows ecommerce merchandising managers to use many different techniques to boost sales once a visitor comes to the site. Typical features include:
- Boosting (increasing the visibility and rank) of products that are higher margin when a customer performs a search
Cross-selling add ons (“would you like fries with that?”) which help increase the cart size and dollar amount
Up-selling from lower cost products to higher margin products in both the check out and product page
Wide array of coupon options to help increase cart size or take someone from abandoned cart to purchase
What's the Best Enterprise Ecommerce Platform?
Your Needs Drive the Choice
As discussed, there are many reasons why a larger should focus on enterprise ecommerce platforms versus the lowest cost option, and the good news is you have choices. At Dunn Solutions we implement ecommerce solutions on some of the best enterprise ecommerce platforms in the market and we are ready to help you in your journey to ecommerce nirvana. Part of our initial engagement will be understanding your needs and doing a gap analysis between those enterprise ecommerce features you need and those provided by our vendor partners.