Is SaaS Ecommerce Right for Your Business?

Written by Divya Shetty

Senior Business Analyst - Salesforce

In the era of 2021, every CEO wants to move expeditive and be more malleable in e-commerce. At times this is considered a sign of proactive, forward-thinking CEO, but it hampers the speed and agility because of the technological (tools) challenges.

As per figures collated by Statista, the number of digital buyers worldwide is all set to rise from 1.92 billion in 2019 to 2.14 billion in 2021. This indicates that every business looking to grow must have incomparable products and services and a strong presence on the internet to satisfy and delight customers. However, the Covid-19 pandemic threw an unexpected crisis towards every business, placing their e-commerce capabilities to trial. Automation is needed to address the sudden spike in volume and demand.

As you pivot to accommodate this massive increase in demand, ensuring the user experience remains seamless across different mediums, and there are few decisions to be made. Should you continue with a legacy customized on-premise solution or a cloud-based SAAS e-commerce platform? Or, something in between?

Let’s reckon for you to gauge the right e-commerce solution for your business.

On-Premise Platform

Over the years, on-premise was synonymous with e-commerce. Resources are deployed in-house and within an enterprise’s IT infrastructure. An enterprise is fully responsible and accountable for maintaining the solution and its processes. These solutions promised innovation and customization — often by adding on hardware. This is how many companies built high-growth digital businesses, but they proved obdurate.

Over time, more IT resources are required to support legacy systems. The ability to customize, which started as a strength, turned into weakness. Businesses often need to meet transitional customer expectations, security threats, and regulatory requirements. However, occasional customizations made the platform less agile and inflexible. Furthermore, the complex and costly platform upgrades were some of the biggest challenges with on-premise solutions. Ecommerce technology being a significant area of innovation, couldn’t withstand the upcoming crunches with on-premise.

Cloud-Based SaaS Ecommerce Platform

Somewhere in mid 2020s, cloud-based SaaS platforms started emerging. This was the stretch when many e-commerce vendors switched to cloud strategics. Cloud-based SaaS e-commerce platforms provide the following:

Cost:

With most of the cloud-based SaaS eCommerce platforms, monthly costs are clear and precise, and, by and large, they do not alter over time unless customer sales volumes go up significantly or have significant increases in traffic than estimated.

Scalability:

During the health crisis, shopping behavior changed significantly. Retailers are looking to scale their eCommerce platform along with them. The platform makes it possible to promptly scale up or down based on business needs and prepare for the unexpected.

Maintenance:

Through the years, on-premises systems required more time, money, and employee resources. SaaS e-commerce platforms govern much of the back-end infrastructure, from security, performance time, bug fixes to updates. Companies can now emphasize selling products and not maintenance.

Security:

SaaS e-commerce platforms incessantly update with the best security features. With one core codebase across all stores on the platform – the core is controlled and protected by the platform’s technical team, resulting in the eCommerce solutions being more secure than on-premise platforms.

Out-of-the-Box Solution:

With prebuilt, customizable themes, product information management, marketing capabilities, and other needed functionality, merchants are now at a benefit. With these features, new merchants can set up and run an online store right away.

Flexible:

SaaS eCommerce platforms are usually more flexible when compared to other platforms. As more customers connect, the platform enables businesses to customize and innovate with clicks or code.

What Are The Drawbacks?

New SaaS releases rarely had as much functionality as expected. Eventually, the gap narrowed — and even disappeared — as SaaS offerings matured.

New entrants to the e-commerce market have also muddied SaaS’s reputation. Too many new vendors meet only the most specific storefront requirements. They may need five, ten, or even more web apps to get close to the complex functionality that legacy on-premises solutions initially offered.


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Is There A Hybrid Approach?

Headless commerce driven by a robust SaaS e-commerce platform is the best strategy. In its simplest form, headless commerce is a separation of the front-end and back-end of an e-commerce application. It combines the benefits of scalable, reliable core commerce services with modern web development and experience management tools. This architecture gives brands the freedom of expression to build as per their want. Most importantly, it enables brands to enrich the customer experience.

A commerce platform's flexibility ensures your developers can build with speed and full autonomy of tools, code, and APIs, and all third-party integrations. To scale and win the competition, consider headless commerce.

While headless commerce has benefits, approach it with forethought. The adopters of headless commerce have a relatively large and sophisticated team of developers who can take advantage of the flexibility and handle the integration complexity with a DIY attitude. Companies with fewer IT and developer resources will likely find headless too tricky and unreasonable. Today, with the pandemic forcing the pace in business change, brands need to embrace innovation like never before. Every hour of developer time is precious, as speed-to-market is often tied to increasing cash flow.

So, What’s The Answer?

As you look ahead to what’s next, find a solution that offers the complete functionality you need for your e-commerce strategy.

Look for enough functionality to meet your e-commerce requirements. Find tools that support modern strategies when you need them, and be prepared for the unexpected, have the option to quickly build, customize and manage experiences without IT and development resources. A great tip would be to choose a solution that best serves your business goals. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to e-commerce.