Many businesses moved quickly into the digital world over the past several years and are now finding themselves operating on already outdated, legacy software that leaves them handcuffed in more ways than one. These struggles are forcing today’s leaders to focus on defining new e-commerce strategies

Enterprises that are focused on innovation, speed, and scale, should be thinking seriously about the 5 pillars of a modern approach to e-commerce.

Legacy e-commerce software leaves you struggling with:

  • Deadlines
  • Feature requests
  • Meeting revenue goals
  • Customizations, updates, or upgrades
  • Integrations with new technologies
  • Big data

Historically, businesses have struggled to manage their complex operations with online software options that could not conform to their businesses. Traditional, monolithic, out-of-the-box software platforms were simply too rigid to allow necessary customizations. Custom software, while able handle the complexities, was too expensive, took too long to build, and was hard to maintain.  

The costs and challenges associated with staying the current course are damaging:

  • High maintenance costs, upgrade fees, and overall cost of ownership
  • Instability and performance issues that lead to poor customer experience
  • Inability to customize the experience as your business needs evolve
  • Lack of end-to-end automation when integrations are too costly or time-consuming
  • Siloed or disconnected e-commerce experiences across various business units

Modern commerce solutions have to answer to the challenges of your complex business.  You need flexibility and adaptability to move your specific processes online. You need to minimize risk and limit upfront investment. You need light infrastructure and modern technology that helps you avoid more tech debt. And you need the performance, stability, and instant scale of the cloud.

If this sounds reminiscent of your digital landscape, you are not alone. After the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the e-commerce landscape in 2020, 66% of B2B decision-makers surveyed now believe self-service is more important to customers than traditional sales interactions—up from 48% before the pandemic, according to McKinsey

As B2B enterprises double down on e-commerce, it’s important to know the key things to look for when investing in a modern e-commerce platform. We’ve outlined the 5 pillars of modern e-commerce for B2B leaders. 

5 pillars of e-commerce for the modern world

  1. Flexibility - Today, a cornerstone of modern e-commerce is that it’s headless in nature. This means that the front and backend have been separated or decoupled. Headless e-commerce platforms allow development teams to make changes to the user experience without the risk of disrupting the back-end code. Beyond that, headless e-commerce makes it easy to roll out new features or expand capabilities as the business needs change. 
  2. Scalability - All B2B enterprises are striving towards growth. When it comes to B2B e-commerce, growth typically means more orders, more traffic, and more bandwidth. This brings us to a common pitfall enterprises that have legacy software experience. As the business grows, the e-commerce software cannot handle the increase in traffic. However, this problem is easily solved with cloud-native technology that easily scales upward with your business. 
  3. Omnichannel - In recent years, the concept of omnichannel has not only grown in popularity but become a viable and essential business strategy. There have never been more ways to interact with an application; the web, mobile, connected devices, and more. An omnichannel approach allows a business to deliver applications that not only operate in any channel but can scale as more channels are added without having to create new solutions for each of those channels. Modern commerce architectures make it possible to execute a strong omnichannel strategy. 
  4. Integrations - API-first e-commerce platforms, like Sitecore® OrderCloud®, make integrations fast and easy. The need for the ability to integrate is two-fold for many B2B enterprises. First, enterprises have other business-critical systems that are essential to running their business, and choosing a modern e-commerce platform that fits their business and can integrate with those systems is crucial for future success. On the other hand, as a business grows and evolves, enterprises often find themselves needing to iterate their e-commerce experiences. Adding a chatbot, for example, is as easy as creating a new integration with modern e-commerce. 
  5. Customizations - While enterprises have always looked to commerce suite vendors to support basic capabilities like running online catalogs, shopping carts, and promotions, they now expect highly customized seamless purchase journeys, innovative fulfillment options, assisted sales alternatives, integrated microservices, PIM systems, unique corporate account ordering experiences, and much more. These new demands are driving the need for enterprises to move towards modern e-commerce technologies like headless e-commerce platforms which can support fast, cost-effective, custom B2B e-commerce applications that go beyond the shopping cart. 

If you find yourself handcuffed by a legacy e-commerce system that is keeping you from evolving as an organization, it’s time for a change. When thinking about the future of your business, there’s a lot to be excited about, but also plenty of hurdles to prepare for. But with the right technology, you’ll be ready to experience long term success.

Learn more about how and why enterprises are choosing to replatform in our Ultimate Guide to Replatforming.