March 23rd, 2022 | 7 MIN READ

How to Know If You Have Outgrown Your Commerce Platform

Written by Pranav Bahadur

Pranav Bahadur is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path living in the Boston area.

Outgrown legacy ecommerce platforms

Your commerce platform is a critical piece of your strategy that can enable your brand to deliver unique customer experiences and drive revenue growth for your brand. But not all platforms are created equal and some actually hinder a brand’s ability to bring their vision to life.

Whether it’s a dated reference architecture, clunky functionality, or antiquated pricing, brands find themselves held back instead of propelled forward by their technology.

After speaking with many brands who are in the process of evaluating new commerce platforms, we have noticed a trend: those struggling tend to still be using dated, legacy commerce platforms.This simple fact can often go overlooked as brands stick with what they know and don't recognize how much of a hindrance their current commerce platform may be.

Read on to see some of the common signs that your brand has outgrown your commerce platform and how transitioning to a more modern microservices-based platform can alleviate some of those ailments.

Some of the common complaints we hear include spending too many resources on workarounds, waiting on IT teams to implement costly projects to add functionality, and increasing cost without continuous innovation. This results in a half-baked execution of your vision and underwhelming performance.

If this sounds familiar, you are likely running a legacy all-in-one (monolithic) platform. When they first emerged in the early 2000s, legacy commerce platforms like Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and Shopify were designed to address a wide plethora of basic commerce needs with a single offering. Indeed, they were successful in meeting the needs of the time.

But, with the demands of customers evolving, the rigid nature of these platforms leaves brands being outpaced by competitors who have invested in new technology.

Several point-providers for specific functionality have stepped in to provide a better solution than the relatively simplistic offerings from legacy all-in-one commerce platforms. With a Composable Commerce approach, you can leverage these best-of-breed third-party solutions and a headless commerce platform to develop a solution that delivers the customer experiences and performance your eCommerce teams envision.

Struggles With Speed Limiting Your Brand's Growth

The first sign that you have outgrown your commerce platform is inability to move fast.

When evaluating the performance of your current commerce solution, speed is essential. We can talk about speed in two key facets—first, the speed of your platform, i.e., what your customers experience. Slow page load times or poor mobile experiences can lead to lost revenue. To learn more, check out our post here.

Many brands will have ongoing projects to improve their stores' performance and see minor improvements on specific key metrics with changes to their CDNs, marketing tags, personalization engines, etc.

However, these improvements are often incremental at best and generally lead to hitting a wall with what is possible with legacy architecture. Achieving the ideal 'under 4s' load time mark can be out of reach with a legacy commerce platforms' tightly coupled capabilities and reference architecture code base.

With an API-first architecture, typical in Headless Commerce platforms like Elastic Path, achieving lightning-fast load times is simple because these solutions were designed around the speed and scalability delivered of cloud infrastructure. The second facet of 'speed' is how quickly (and easily) you can add on functionality like a mobile checkout touchpoint, best-in-class search capabilities, or a payment gateway to deliver experiences that your customers expect.

With legacy platforms, brands often embark on costly extension projects requiring specific developer expertise. For example, those using Salesforce Commerce Cloud are only able to hire Salesforce developers and architects who cost $12,000 more per hire.

Not only is it more expensive to undertake these projects, but they will also take significantly longer due to the architecture of the legacy commerce platforms necessitating extensive testing to ensure all connected pieces are working after making any additions.

 

Ready to Consider Replatforming?

If your business has outgrown your current ecommerce platform, check out our webinar, "Replatforming Tips to Embrace Composable Commerce," for advice on how to move to a more modern solution.

Watch the Webinar

Business Teams Frustrated by Bottlenecks

The second sign you have outgrown your commerce platform is rigid functionality that requires customization to meet your requirements. These bottlenecks to improvements can break down into two route causes.

We often hear that marketing and merchandising teams struggle to keep pace with customers' demands since they need to wait on the IT team to implement seemingly simple changes.

A prime example of this is when merchandising teams want to launch unique strategies like dynamic bundles, complex pricing, or child-variant level merchandising, but their commerce platform does not support it without custom developer work. And, this challenge isn’t just with legacy platforms, we see the same issues arise with some of the MACH-vendors in today’s landscape. Your merchandising team will end up with delayed time to market and missed opportunities all thanks for the lack of flexibility of catalog and merchandising capabilities.

With Catalog Composer from Elastic Path, merchandisers can rapidly create complete catalogs that tailor to specific needs of your customers across channels, touchpoints, and geographies with ease.

A similar challenge occurs for making frontend updates. With a legacy commerce platform, the ability for merchandisers to make quick changes to the storefront can simply be impossible. Instead, they have to submit a ticket to IT and wait until it is tackled. On the other hand, with a composable architecture, brands can choose a frontend technology and CMS (Content Management System) that allows business users to make these changes.

This approach saves resource hours while also providing significantly more flexibility when delivering the vision of a unique front end that caters to the complexities of your specific business.

Planned Expansions Hindered by Your Current Commerce Platform

The third sign you have outgrown your commerce platform is inability to expand your digital business to meet revenue goals.

At Elastic Path we see brands looking to increase their digital revenue by expanding to new business models (like B2B or B2B2C), geographies, brands, or touchpoints. Unfortunately, many legacy platforms were built in the early 2000s when this type of expansion was irrelevant. Therefore, their technology struggles to keep up with these new business needs without customization.

In the case of business model extension where each model comes with its complexities, legacy platforms like Salesforce offer a wholly different product to cater to these needs. For example, brands who want to power both B2C and B2B need to run two entirely separate platforms. Running two platforms can double up the headaches caused by the problems discussed above but will also mean that you are paying license fees and staffing for both products individually.

It is important to note that with other modern Headless Commerce vendors, you will need to use and pay for multiple platform instances rather than separate products to cater to use cases like multi-geo, multi-account, B2B, etc.

The complexity introduced in these cases with the need for several differentiated catalogs with distinct hierarchies and pricebooks can be impossible to manage with a single instance. Additional instances are needed since other Headless Commerce vendors lack the flexibility a de-coupled catalog architecture provides.

Catalog Composer delivers this flexibility with unlimited catalogs that allow you to create bespoke catalogs 5x faster for every route-to-market from a single instance of the platform.

Even without channel expansion plans, brands looking to add functionality are forced into complicated implementations with a legacy commerce platform. A good example is payment gateways.

Some legacy platforms might have the ability to add a specific third-party vendor to add Buy Now Pay Later capabilities. Managing multiple vendors for each payments capability is something two-thirds of brands are looking to avoid.

Check out Elastic Path Payments to learn how you can easily accept payments across channels, touchpoints, and geographies from a single payment offering.

Omnichannel commerce platforms like Elastic Path Commerce Cloud allow you to run all the channels and touchpoints your brand needs from a single instance of the platform. This way, you are cutting down on the Total Cost of Ownership while providing a better customer experience.

Struggling to Increase Margins with an Expensive Commerce Platform

As you will have noticed, a common challenge across many of the issues that brands face when outgrowing a legacy commerce platform is a high Total Cost of Ownership.

By moving away from a legacy platform to a Headless Commerce platform, you can increase your top and bottom-line revenues as these benefits add up across lower platform fees, less expensive implementation projects, or simply lowering the cost associated with your team needing to manage the complexity of a legacy solution.

For a more comprehensive look at how you can lower your Total Cost of Ownership, check out our guide here.

Chat with us today if any of the common signs above hit close to home. We would be happy to help determine how to successfully circumvent the issues holding back your brand's growth and establish a commerce solution that fits your needs today and into the future.

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