Where is the line drawn between being an eCommerce retailer or an enterprise eCommerce retailer? What is “enterprise level software” and should you be using it?
A crude benchmark might be that if you are achieving over £250,000 in retail sales per year, then you could be considered an enterprise-level retailer. If you were starting a new eCommerce project and you already had that level of retail business (from brick and mortar stores) then you would go for an enterprise solution from the beginning.
Another benchmark and probably a more accurate guide is the number of tools and legacy software that you need to integrate with to keep things running smoothly. For example, most eCommerce solutions provide plug-ins or an API (application programming interface) with which to incorporate common tools like a CRM (customer relationship management). Hubspot integration would be an excellent example of this and Salesforce would be another.
Third party integration for mailing lists (MailChimp, Aweber) already exists as well as delivery or shipping integrations and financial software (Kashflow, Xero).
So what is the benefit of an enterprise solution?
Enterprise software gives you a higher level of granular control over your integrations. For example, someone starting a new eCommerce store would be well served by Shopify or EKM and integration to Kashflow to do all their accounting. But an existing store with hundreds or even thousands of customers and suppliers would need to integrate with their current software, probably something like Sage 300 or SAP business one.
These software solutions have been developed and customised over time to reflect the working practices of the company using them, to make them more efficient. Over several years time, the amount of money invested in this software can be considerable. It is not an option to ditch it all and start over again. It might be possible to migrate the data, but the user interface and original database structure cannot go with it.
This is why being able to make software applications talk to each other is so important, and it is commonly done through the API.
So while the crude turnover benchmark exists, that doesn't tell the whole story. You need Enterprise software if you need to integrate with many third-party applications and you need control over how those applications work.
In addition to how you integrate with third party software is the issue of security. Most basic eCommerce software platforms can create multiple users, but auditing trails are non-existent. If you need to find out who changed the price of an item or deleted it, then you'll need an audit trail that shows which user changed something and when.
Another consideration could be if you have several offices or locations. Enterprise software provides a centralised company solution for all of your business needs.
Common Key Features For Enterprise eCommerce Software:
- Unlimited products, product combinations, storage, and bandwidth.
- Order, Inventory and delivery management.
- More competitive payment gateway fees
- Multi-channel features and integration
- Point Of Sale Features
- Personal Account Manager
Because of the expense involved in making a decision, it is usual to spend several weeks to a month evaluating your enterprise solution, so be highly organised in your approach and include as many stakeholders as you can in the decision-making process. Most corporate decisions can be made by a need to know, but this is not one of them. Whether or not Jane in accounts can invoice for the stock that does not exist might be missing functionality that could bring your entire operation to a grinding halt.
Involving multiple stakeholders in the decision-making process is something I discuss in my eCommerce project management guide.
Once you've established that you are a candidate for an enterprise solution the next decision is to choose between a custom or self-hosted solution like Magento or cloud-based eCommerce software.
Read my Magento V Shopify key differences explained to understand the major differences between open source or hosted eCommerce solutions.
Summary Of Enterprise eCommerce Software:
Choosing a cloud-based option means you'll be paying a fixed monthly cost which includes maintenance, upgrades and security monitoring. Magento Enterprise eCommerce starts at around £6,000 per year, and that does not cover development costs or support.
Overall a new enterprise solution implementation will typically cost £100,000+ using an agency to build it for you so if you were sitting on the fence then that figure may make your mind up for you. There are plenty of installations that come in at around the £20,000 - £30,000 mark depending on the nature of the business and amount of customisation required.
You won't have to worry about running out of space as you have a managed network.
UX And User Design
User design is a commonly overlooked advantage of an eCommerce platform that is centrally controlled and administered by a professional team. Making the software user-friendly is the goal of UX (user experience), and by tapping into a global network of eCommerce stores, you are getting the benefit of combined experience.
Three of the best cloud-based enterprise eCommerce software platforms:
BigCommerce Enterprise features an open architecture that’s designed to seamlessly integrate with your business. One-click integrations with leading eCommerce applications enable you to easily connect to business-critical software. Flexible APIs and webhooks make building your integrations fast and cost-effective, increasing your operational efficiency and ensuring our platform meets your business needs.
Shopify Plus combines an easy-to-navigate CMS for merchants, marketers, and eCommerce managers alongside robust code control for advanced builds and development.
EKM Pro is designed to handle high-volume and fast-growing businesses, giving you the highest uptime and fastest site available. From product and content management to PPC and from email marketing to your very own dedicated support line, our team will become a direct extension to your business. Utilise our team of in-house designers, who will not only build your eCommerce website how you want it; they’ll update, amend and improve it to boost your conversion rate.