What is the best eCommerce platform for scaling a startup?
What would you do?
Recently I came across this exact question on Quora.com. The person was looking to explore a solution according to the following description:
We are looking to migrate a 10m SKU store from Magento. This is the short list for our next solution:
- Oracle ATG
- SAP Hybris
- IBM Websphere
Please suggest any additions or provide me with feedback/references to help us in making an informed decision to choose the best one.
At this level of scale, it is not surprising you are moving away from Magento, especially if you are on their community edition. The reason being, as we’ve noticed with our clients comes in several forms but can be broken down into three buckets, technical debt, diminishing returns of so many apps, lack of advanced commerce features capability like omnichannel, multi vendor, AI, data mining, and automation sequences. So, with that view, let’s take a look at what this sort of commerce system should do for you, what other options might be available, and how to choose for you.
First, it is helpful to note that this is not an uncommon theme. We get requests all the time, probably 40% of our inbound, from companies who start with a simple eCommerce system and realize they need something a bit more advanced. At some point, the energy being expelled on lower-level tasks like promotions and emails, shipping/label creation, hosting and infrastructure will become a pain in the donkey, so something that can actually handle most of these components without input will severely enhance the chances of success.
Essential Components for a Scaling eCommerce Startup
Essential large scale enterprise eCommerce platform components for a scaling eCommerce company (in no order of importance, though some matter more than others):
- Basics — This list is quite long for a modern commerce system but is essential:
- Items — input with import and auto connection with vendors in some cases
- Embed items on landing pages, within social pages, on web blogs, partner sites or specialty sites
- Shipping options with something like EasyPost that includes 30+ native options, omnichannel shipping for retailers like buy online pickup in store, ship from the store etc. and multi-store/multi-warehouse inventory levels for products.
- Review system. There are many great options out there, but reviews are essential now with 92% of people in a recent poll saying they looked at and used reviews in their purchase.
- Wishlists are also becoming a popular way to let the world know what you want. They should be quickly shareable. Some Instagram stars are funding their Saturday nights this way from randoms that go and buy their wishlist items for them!
- Find in store should be a no-brainer and it’s what we mean when we talk about omnichannel capability. Consumers want to know if they can get this thing right off, instant gratification. Put this in an easy to find place.
- Ability to handle complex item variations and pricing schemes
- Easily manage hundreds, thousands or millions of items: moving categories around, arranging huge product segments, deleting large blocks, and having an ability to “not-show” products all at once is big.
- High-level dashboard of sales, abandons, check out portal open rates, etc. with more detailed specs automatically being utilized in the sales of items (see below AI powered suggestions)
- Order management system with the ability to automate shipping label creation, returns, etc.
- Subscriptions for those customers who want to regularly receive their items, charging them automatically each month.
- Design and UI of checkout (onboarding) — it makes a big difference. Chances are you may want to design or have your own check out experience designed. Using a Shopify/Magento platform may limit the possibilities or will require modules/apps to adjust them. KISS (keep it simple stupid). All our newer sites with Epic Commerce utilize the very simplest of onboarding procedures starting with just an email so we can circle back if they leave, and take the customer efficiently and pleasingly through a checkout.
- Automation of data capture so that as soon as a virgin consumer comes to your site, your system will gather what it can about them such as location, past browser search history, social media likes and interests etc. to begin forming a profile of products this customer will like.
- AI powered suggestions through a system like Epic Commerce enables you to combine the power of customer data points (as long as it can be defined it can be used) with an automated event-based message and on-site triggers. This combines emails, text, and other messages entirely based on user actions to send out relevant products based on customer data. It also enables the contents of your website to change depending on this customer, and their preferences, handling much of the marketing aspect for you.
- Infinitely scalable infrastructure so you aren’t dealing with this and instead it sits safely in the cloud or on your own VPS with the point being you have more time to worry about the business and your site speed stays the same as you scale.
- Native integration with your ERP or another system. This will help you again in automating and keeping track of inventory levels across the various components of your business.
- Multiple payment methods, support for multi-currency- Customers have preferences, unfortunately, these can be varied to provide at a minimum all Credit Cards, Paypal, Android/iOS and perhaps ETF bank account payments for high priced items. Currencies should be supported for at least the top 5 if borders don’t matter.
- Multi-language because Google already does this for free and the landscape can be international.
- Robust API’s and support that enables you to not only work with a company like Orkiv to build your site, but that allows you to scale with your own team, build, and excite customers further as you find the right solutions to advance the business further.
- Security is something that comes from the core. If you build it properly, you won’t have a problem as the systems themselves are secure by default. Wrapping extra protection is an added benefit.
- Constantly innovating. You need something that is at the cutting edge with this many SKU’s and high volume business. Having scalable automation in place, leveraging the power of data mining, AI, and logic will be a huge benefit. Anything that inhibits this is costing you.
The best options for a scaling startup include:
- Magento enterprise which I realize you may already be using, but for some, it could provide the relief you need, though you are still maintaining an awful lot of infrastructure. This does provide for omnichannel at this level.
- Demandware which is now a part of Salesforce, which is probably the most robust and highest priced. Only the largest eCommerce companies will utilize this as it will require a team to operate. It should be considered none-the-less.
- Netsuite Commerce is another option for quite large multi-member teams who can handle running a large environment. They offer a large suite of products from accounting to warehouse etc. If you do feel this is a good solution, reach out as I know a few great people over at Netsuite I can put you in contact with.
- Virto Commerce though I’ve never heard of them they showed up in my quick search
- Epic Commerce is the best solution for a scaling eCommerce startup for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it meets the requirements above, but mostly because is scalable to any size, flexible, and combines data mining and AI with a logic based interface to completely automate shipping, promotions, coupons, referrals, incentive based rewards, cross/up sells, recommendations, and event-based messages entirely based on this customers preferences being picked up from the customer. Message a firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to discuss your project to determine the implementation.
Which option to choose for scaling an eCommerce Startup?
The options here actually do diminish quite a bit, based on our own findings. The level of complexity required will leave most simple solutions out of the options. This makes automation and intelligence as well as the common foundation which is necessary to manage this many products as a high-value item to pay attention to. You will need to consider costs but consider that in some cases a larger initial investment will lead to huge organizational benefits later with automation and AI handling a lot of work for you. Pay close attention to how customers will interact with your website, and what you will require for functionality 3 months, 6 months, 2 years and beyond so you aren’t doing this multiple times over again.
Shoot an email over to email@example.com to chat further regarding your situation and how a system like was mentioned here might work for you.
If you’ve got something to add, drop it in the comments, I love a good conversation. If you enjoyed it, pass it around or like. Thanks, carpe diem!