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Large businesses have recognised the advantages of eCommerce for years now and it has been some of the largest businesses in the UK who were the pioneers of some of the most impactful eCommerce innovations to date.
For example, Argos led the way with the Click and Collect model which is now so important for today’s multichannel retail environment. Equally, brands such as Tesco were one of the first to implement food delivery - an area which is now growing fast and becoming more diverse with smaller emerging brands such as Pact Coffee and Hello Fresh.
But running large eCommerce websites isn’t easy - it often takes months, and sometimes years, of planning. In these large businesses, it is the Chief Information Officers (CIO) who are the people tasked with making sure that all of the ideas and dreams of the marketing teams are translated into a reliable, stable and functional eCommerce platform.
There are many challenges to consider.
The website has to be on a robust platform to provide an effective and flexible foundation for the user experience to be developed.
In addition, it will often need to integrate into the many legacy systems that exist in an established business - things like stock control, customer management, warehouse management and so on.
Finally, enterprise eCommerce environments have to be able to deal with large volumes of website visitors, and cope with the seasonal spikes that come with the retail world, particularly around sale and new season launches.
Added to this already long list are the responsibilities around security; there are stringent payment card regulations (called PCI DSS compliance) which all eCommerce retailers have to be mindful of, but the complexity of enterprise eCommerce means achieving compliance is more difficult, time consuming and expensive.
Furthermore, there’s also the consideration of testing hosting environments for security vulnerabilities to make sure customer and commercial data is safe.
So it’s easy to see why enterprise eCommerce businesses can end up spending a significant amount of time and investment on these areas of their business; areas that inevitably take energy away from the parts of the businesses that senior management really want to be focusing on - the areas that drive customer acquisition and spend.
For years this was just ‘how it was’ - if you were leading technology in an enterprise eCommerce business, this was just the way it had to be.
At the same time, SME eCommerce businesses were being released from such concerns, thanks to innovative hosted solutions like Shopify which deal with all of the infrastructure, platform and security concerns and allow merchants to focus more time on the exciting things, like building their brand and connecting with their customers.
But, like all things in digital, things are changing. When we attended Unite, Shopify’s Partner Conference, we were really excited to hear about the developments around Shopify Plus. This is Shopify’s premium enterprise-level service and it’s changing the game for enterprise eCommerce.
Unlike other solutions, like Magento Enterprise, brands can be live within weeks and months, not months and years. Everything is taken care of as part of the merchant’s monthly service fee and this includes a wide range of benefits such as:
Essentially, Shopify are bringing all of their renowned SME features to enterprise, but with the technical and engineering expertise that enterprise eCommerce businesses need.
It’s a real game changer, because it means that larger eCommerce businesses can get back to what they want to focus on - growing sales - and spend less time managing the things they really shouldn’t be worrying about - things like hosting.
The impact of Shopify Plus is already being felt. Last Black Friday, not a single Shopify Plus store went offline. This meant merchants could take orders all day long knowing that Shopify’s expert team had their backs and were keeping their sites online. Compare that to most other enterprise eCommerce sites, many of whom saw outages during their most important shopping events. Brands like Google, Tesla, GE and Budweiser have already made the switch, with many other set to follow suit.
Software As A Service (SAAS) is now a reality for enterprise eCommerce and a genuine alternative to the on-premise, expensive and time consuming platforms that were, until recently, the only choice for large scale eCommerce businesses. We think it’s a really exciting space and one we’re watching closely.
If you run a larger eCommerce businesses, we’d really recommend you take a look at Shopify Plus. And, as Shopify Plus partners, can we can help you to start their journey, so please feel free to get in touch with us.