Choosing a shop system is often influenced by business model and price. What you really need to look for, why the platform core is so important, and when switching is unavoidable.
Buying? Renting? Does it look nice? We often assess shop systems according to traditional standards that we have "always" applied. In some cases, this may make sense. However, this approach will only add new challenges to existing pain points for enterprise companies with growth ambitions. And then what? Yet another new system because the shop doesn't perform? Doesn't scale? And isn't flexible enough for increased customer expectations? That's exactly why more and more companies are turning to technology-driven e-commerce infrastructures that can be adapted quickly and with minimal effort. What you need to consider before choosing a new shop system...
Why Traditional Shop Systems Reached their Limits
Traditional shop systems have a front end, a back end, and often also interfaces for connecting third-party systems, such as a PIM (product information system). These systems are tightly connected and usually require a great deal of development and maintenance – especially when applying updates. Consequently, this will result in long development processes and excessive costs. Problems in the back end often affect the front end. In omnichannel in particular, traditional shop systems quickly reach their limits. They are simply not designed for emerging new touchpoints, e.g., wearables, IOT applications, or voice commerce. In addition, these systems still use legacy structures no longer needed. Due to numerous dependencies, decoupling individual parts is usually rather difficult – unless you opted for a modular system.
"Headless" Shop Systems as the Platform’s Core
Headless shop systems separate back end from front end, database from customer view. They are “headless”, so to speak. And that has many advantages. With a modular back end, companies are extremely flexible in terms of what to connect. In the front end, this could be numerous shops and touchpoints. In the back end, a modular structure allows individual system components to be flexibly exchanged or managed using customised microservices. May it be for smart homes, voice shopping, marketplaces, or to connect a shop with a different language. Since standardised APIs (interfaces) allow third-party systems to be connected directly, quickly, and usually without much programming effort, companies are less dependent on specific system components and can replace or expand them flexibly and often with little effort. Depending on your needs, you can choose the PIM or payment system that suits your requirements best. You only use what you really need. If a system is already designed at its core so that modules can be connected using standardised, reliable interfaces, such a flexible architecture is also truly stable and high-performant. It’s tailored to your current needs. And: It’s future-proof because you can react much faster to trends and opportunities.
Checklist: What’s Really Relevant for your New Shop System
Before deciding on a new shop system, you should consider what long-term targets you have. Is your company planning to internationalise? A new, large range of products? Are you looking for a complete infrastructure exchange? Or are you actually quite satisfied with the customer-facing shop and only want to optimise the core? A complete migration is not always necessary immediately. You can also migrate your system step by step.
1. Scaling: Growing with your Shop System
Whether it's Black Friday or Easter sale: If you're running large campaigns, the server load should be optimally balanced. For growing online shops, daily traffic can also become a challenge. This is why scalability and reliability are essential. Make sure the new shop system offers concrete solutions for growing companies.
2. Customisation: Defining your Needs
Out-of-the-box functionalities may come in handy if you really need them. However, the new shop system should be adaptable to your individual needs as precisely as possible. An API-based, modular infrastructure with a back end as the central database is a good choice in this context. So think about which third-party providers you want to integrate into the new ecosystem, which functionalities you no longer need, and what should be replaced by new solutions. Does the new shop system provide a good foundation for implementing all of it?
3. Development & Maintenance: Reclaiming Resources
Often, e-commerce companies have limited developer capacity. Therefore, consider whether you want to handle upcoming development and maintenance work within a realistic timeframe. And most importantly: Are you able to handle it all yourself? Many traditional shop systems require a lot of manpower. And even when switching to modular shop systems, the use of specialised agencies is often unavoidable. This raises the question of how low maintenance the new infrastructure actually is. How much will the provider carry out in terms of further developments? Can you reclaim resources for other fields, e.g. product development? What does the technical service look like? Is it included? Watch out for hidden tasks and costs.
4. Touchpoints: Selling Everywhere
Do you only sell on desktop, mobile, and tablet? Okay. But what about five years from now? Where will you be selling when your customers are shopping on social networks, smartwatches, or voice assistants? How would deliveries look like for a smart wardrobe, sending clothes directly to a connected retail shop? Will your customers be able to try on new pants virtually? Or use augmented reality to plan their new living room with you? Shopping experiences shouldn't have boundaries. That's why your future shop also shouldn't have any and be ready for all upcoming trends in your industry.
5. Flexibility: Enhancing your Reaction Time
What opportunities will open up for you in the market? Is now the perfect opportunity for an international rollout? Unfortunately, implementing a new strategy is usually more difficult and time-consuming than you might think. Aside from translating product catalogs, legal aspects often have to be taken into account. In some countries, customers also expect a completely different front end than in your main market. They'll want local payment and delivery providers – and native-speaking customer service. How quickly can you adapt to the new market with your shop system? In three months? In three years?
6. Budget: Planning your Costs
Calculate the costs for a new shop system holistically and also take into account how much you save on in-house development work, maintenance, and time for rollouts. By wisely selecting third-party providers, you can reduce ongoing costs and further optimise your system. Reliable performance is also an important issue. If the shop system breaks down on you, it will quickly cost you a lot of money. In addition, there might be ineffective processes, e.g., in marketing steering. So take a close look at how much you pay for your current shop's pain points. The new shop system should effectively resolve all your challenges.