If you’ve been following the SaaS world in recent years, you’ll have noticed that tier systems have become much more popular. The reason for this is simple: while it’s become much easier for beginners to start their own stores, companies across all industries have been forced to move online, taking their enormous budgets with them. A smart SaaS service will cater to everyone from the budget user to the giant conglomerate.
And with this growth of tiered systems has come a strong focus on enterprise solutions. Across the internet, far more thought has been put into what constitutes “enterprise” ecommerce than is necessary. It’s actually quite simple: if you sell various products and services, cater to different audiences or situations, or simply need a system that can do more than repeat the same basic process every day, then there’s a decent chance you need enterprise software.
Not there yet? Are you taking your business completely seriously? Dedicating almost every day to pushing it to the next level? Determined to exhaust every last drop of potential? If so, you’re aiming for the enterprise level — the level of limitless ambition and the willingness to invest everything you have for a shot at wild success.
These enterprise solutions are custom-made to support high-level business, and if you truly aspire to reach that level, you should seriously consider investing in one. To give you some broader context, here’s what you need to know about enterprise ecommerce solutions:
Scaling is one of the greatest challenges for a new business. It’s a common scenario: you’ve done all the hard work to get your store off the ground and start bringing in enough revenue to account for your costs, but now you need to get bigger, and you’re not sure how to go about it. Plenty of standard ecommerce platforms don’t scale very well — they’re designed to handle certain amounts of traffic (and certain numbers of orders), and will simply stop working if you try to use them beyond their clearly-defined limits.
One of the central tenets of enterprise-level software is that it can scale near-indefinitely. The more performance and/or storage you need, the more you can provide for your customers. This allows you to concentrate on growing and developing your business without wondering what you need to be paying for that particular month, or figuring out how to respond to a sudden rise (or fall) in demand.
Think about the prospect of something like BFCM looming over the horizon. Without a scalable platform, you’ll have to calculate approximately what you’ll need to handle the traffic, and you might get it wrong. Enterprise software relies on a basic premise: when you need something, it’ll be there for you. You may need to pay more for it, but it’ll be there.
Multi-channel retail is rapidly moving from an advantage to a requirement, and if you want to run a business capable of selling across myriad platforms (including new ones as they arrive on the scene), then you need integrations. Integrations connect your store to new pieces of hardware or software. For instance, a Twitter integration can allow you to quickly promote your products through Twitter posts.
When reviewing ecommerce software tiers, you’ll see that integrations get more varied and numerous as the cost goes up. Smaller businesses don’t need to leap on new possibilities — they can stick with regular channels and rely on core integrations to get by — but enterprise-level businesses have to be more advanced.
With an enterprise solution, your store can cleanly spread its sales and promotions across all kinds of channel, and you can be confident that whenever a new tool or channel achieves some success, the development team will start working on an integration for you.
Cloud-based ecommerce just involves all the digital assets being hosted across numerous data servers instead of on your personal server. When someone visits your store and places an order, all of their details will be made accessible through an admin dashboard you can view from anywhere with internet access. This largely avoids the need to take backups, and hugely increases the level of convenience.
There are plenty of self-hosted solutions for small or medium businesses, but it’s hard to find self-hosted enterprise-level solutions because SaaS companies need a lot of access to maintain a high level of service quality. By using their own storage options and processing power, they can handle the foundation of your store on your behalf.
You can run a self-hosted enterprise-level store using something like Magento, but would you really want to? Unless you need a highly-customized store design, there’s little benefit to it. Going with a cloud solution is simply going to be easier overall.
You might like the sound of everything we’ve run through thus far, but have reservations about the potential cost. After all, I did stress that enterprise ecommerce demands total commitment and investment. Perhaps you’re not sure whether you’re ready to take that step — but something that might make the decision easier for you is the rapidly-rising level of accessibility.
Ecommerce in general has seen a pattern repeat over and over again: new options and features enter the scene, expensive and unintuitive, but are steadily polished until they become everyday standards, just part of the mainstream-level online selling package. This is now happening with enterprise ecommerce. For instance, Shopify Plus is a scalable platform aimed at the enterprise level, attempting to do for that tier what regular Shopify has done for SMEs.
Is it something that the average beginner seller should go for? No, of course not. Shopify Plus is going to cost upwards of $2000 per month, and that’s at the cheapest. It isn’t something you should consider until your revenue justifies it — but the main takeaway is that enterprise ecommerce solutions are becoming extremely intuitive, ensuring that the main challenge you face is earning enough money (not getting your new scalable system configured).
So, there you have the basics of software for enterprise-level ecommerce. They’re wonderfully scalable, flexible, and convenient — and with each passing month, they become more accessible. They’re far from cheap, of course, but if your business gets big enough, you should strongly consider taking the leap.
For more information on starting your own ecommerce business, don’t forget to check out my guides or blog for the latest news, tips and advice.