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May 26, 2022 | 5 minute read

How SiteGenesis is Killing your Business?

written by Pranav Bahadur

Do you remember the last time you upgraded your phone? Most daily use items in our lives need periodic refreshes or an all-out replacement on a regular basis. Your eCommerce website is no different. In the quickly evolving world of online selling, thousands of eCommerce sites are surprisingly still using SiteGenesis, a reference architecture created in 2009 by Demandware (an eCommerce company acquired by Salesforce in 2016, now known as Salesforce Commerce Cloud). You rarely see a first-generation iPhone anymore, and we believe your eCommerce site should be the same. This blog will cover why still being on SiteGenesis is a problem for your business and your customers.

To understand why relying on SiteGenesis is a problem, we must cover its history briefly. Like any other technology, it has gone through iterations; SiteGenesis 1.0 was developed for desktop storefronts in 2009 by Demandware. When 2.0 was created five years after the initial version, it introduced a responsive web application that included some basic tablet and mobile support to keep up with the times. After Salesforce had acquired Demandware, they released Mobile-First Reference Architecture (MFRA) as the next solution.

While this significantly changed the storefront architecture to better support mobile, the the reference architecture code for eCommerce was still intact. Finally, Salesforce Reference Architecture (SFRA) was released in 2018 as an alternative to SiteGenesis to catch up with the rest of the industry's progress.

So, what's the big deal? Didn't everyone make the upgrade? No. While the upgrade from SiteGenesis to SFRA isn’t on the same level as a total replatform, it still requires significant time and effort to make the switch. We’re talking months and maybe even years if you have multiple brands and hundreds of geographies. The reality is, 60% of original SiteGenesis users are still stuck using this old technology. Keep reading to understand top challenges for brands using SiteGenesis.

Poor Support For Mobile Experiences

In 2015, mobile internet traffic overtook desktop traffic. Similarly, eCommerce transactions are increasingly on mobile devices. Statista predicts that 44% of all eCommerce will be mobile by 2025. So much so that most modern storefronts are 'mobile-first' designs to cater to the expectations of today's customers. Despite the updates, SiteGenesis still lacks native support for mobiles and tablets, making a mobile-first approach impossible to achieve.

With heavy customization work, SiteGenesis developers can deliver an operational mobile storefront. However, even these clever hacks have their drawbacks. With mobile visitors abandoning sites that take longer than 4s to load, attempting to improve their conversion rates is a losing battle. Losing out on mobile sales could cost your brand dearly with dollars left on the table.


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The Glass Ceiling of Poor Page Performance

The slow load times are one of the consequences of an old architecture that wasn't created with today's performance standards in mind. With a monolithic architecture, performance improvements are limited compared to a more modern componentized architecture built with scalability and speed in mind. Since a monolithic codebase is so tightly woven together and inter-reliant, developers can spend many hours shaving off milliseconds.

Still, it's unlikely to achieve site speeds in line with customer expectations without a modern architecture. Slow pages provide poor customer experiences and affect your brand's ability to succeed. In fact, with every second a page loads faster, conversions increase by an estimated 3-5%. To learn more about how site speed affects your store, check out our blog here.

No Code Extensions Cost Potential Revenue

Since the SiteGenesis architecture was created in 2009, there wasn't a need at the time to consider scalability or code extensions to support unique experiences, let alone a modern componentized architecture. Instead, developers need to clone templates and add code for new functionality like a shop the look experience to make any updates or add functionality. Duplicating code in a monolithic architecture has implications for site performance since every functionality in the codebase is heavily tied together (tightly coupled).

That also means that any updates that are made to an eCommerce store are slower to stand up since they need to be extensively tested with the entire system after a lengthy development process.

As a result, any innovation like adding a mobile self-checkout becomes extremely difficult and risky on SiteGenesis. Continuous improvement/ development, therefore, isn't a viable option on SiteGenesis. Trying to keep up with modern features like Buy Online Pick up In-Store (BOPIS) or adding a new payment gateway to cater to customers' demands becomes impossible.

Cost Implication of an Antiquated Architecture

On top of the inherent drawbacks of working with SiteGenesis to keep up with modern commerce needs, the cost of doing so is also significantly higher than modern architecture alternatives, like MACH. With longer development timelines and extensive testing, more resources must be attributed to any project. Which always means higher costs.

Overall resource hours aside, as proprietary software, SiteGenesis also requires brands still using it to find developers with increasingly rare and specialized skill sets. Typically, these developer resources are also more expensive to hire and drive the Total Cost of Ownership even higher. To learn more about TCO and how you can reduce yours, check out our guide here.

Are You Experiencing These Challenges?

So how do you get your SiteGenesis store past all these problems? Salesforce encourages customers on SiteGenesis to transition over to their newer SFRA. While SFRA does overcome significant issues with SiteGenesis, it still requires a large project to make the switch. And, once you do, you are still using monolithic architecture instead of MACH-based technology that supports a Composable Commerce approach.

If you’re ready to upgrade SiteGenesis, we’d suggest you consider looking at alternatives to Salesforce. At Elastic Path we offer a complete migration package from legacy Salesforce to our modern, MACH-based Elastic Path Commerce Cloud product. Check out our Salesforce Migration Guide to learn more.