Choosing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) enterprise ecommerce platform may be one of the best decisions your company makes this year.
Retail ecommerce sales grew 10.1 percent in previous years while the retail industry as a whole grew about 1.4 percent, according to data collected by professional services firm, PwC.
Essentially, ecommerce is growing more than seven times as fast of the rest of the industry. There are many factors contributing to this growth, including convenience, improvement in omnichannel customer experience, and changes in customer behavior.
For example, in just the last few years, mobile devices have radically changed the way consumers shop, and successful businesses adapted to those changes rapidly. Businesses changed because customers changed.
If you boiled these down, each of the four reasons I'll cover in this article translate into helping your retail enterprise business adapt and grow more quickly in response to changes in the marketplace.
Collectively, these reasons describe how enterprise-level SaaS ecommerce solutions can make your business more agile.
No. 1: SaaS Lets You Focus on What Drives Your Business
Even the most successful enterprise operations have resource limitations, and there is a sense in which the software your business selects reflects your company's priorities.
Will your business prioritize server maintenance, managing software upgrades, and ensuring your ecommerce solution meets Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS), or will you focus on what drives your success — things like retail innovation, operating efficiencies, and improved customer experience?
Effectively, this is the choice between managing your company's own ecommerce infrastructure and software or choosing an enterprise-level SaaS ecommerce solution that will do these things for you.
An analogy may help make the point. If your goal is to travel from Miami, Florida to San Francisco, Calif. tomorrow, would you begin by buying an airplane or becoming a pilot? No, you would fly with an already established airline that specializes in transporting passengers.
In the same way, enterprise-level SaaS ecommerce solutions let your business focus on what makes it successful. Your company's IT department and decision makers can pay attention to what gives your business a competitive advantage rather than trying to maintain the plane.
No. 2: SaaS Makes Integration, Implementation Faster
In many, if not most cases, SaaS ecommerce platforms take less time to implement and integrate than do other ecommerce solutions, getting your business selling more quickly.
First, the necessary infrastructure is in place. Your business doesn't need to deploy multiple web servers, worry about database schemas, or even think about load balancing and up time. Having all of these things done for your business is, in part, the benefit of choosing an enterprise SaaS platform.
Second, SaaS providers understand your business will need to integrate with other systems, so they have solutions ready and waiting.
For example, 3dcart's Enterprise Version has a robust, REST API built in. If you want to share product information between an enterprise product information management (PIM) solution and 3dcart, use the API. Want to share sales data with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, use the API.
Finally, SaaS ecommerce solutions often include optional extensions or addons to connect your enterprise ecommerce platform with other SaaS applications.
With an enterprise SaaS ecommerce solution, your company can go from choosing the platform to selling on the platform fast.
No. 3: SaaS Helps Your Scale During Peak Sales Periods
Retailers must scale during peak selling periods.
Imagine for a moment you are in the lawn and garden segment. Your stores — brick-and-mortar and online — sell products like fertilizer, herbicides, and garden gnomes. You have weed whackers, hedge trimmers, and replacement lawn mower blades. Your hot new sellers are elastic, rip-resistant garden hoses; bird feeder cameras; and a GPS-guided robotic pooper scooper.
When do you think you'll get more sales in January or in May? In North America the answer is May when the weather is warm and your customers are working in their yards.
Similarly, if you sell toys, would you expect to sell more in August or December? The answer is December, when the holidays drive toy sales. In fact, some toy retailers may do more than half of their annual sales volume in November and December alone.
Retailers must be able to scale during peak sales periods, or they will lose revenue and anger consumers.
SaaS makes scaling relatively easy. Your enterprise-level SaaS ecommerce provider should have redundant systems to more than handle your busiest times. Look for services that demonstrate page response times of less than 200 milliseconds when your site is experiencing as many as 500,000 requests per minute.
Your business will still need to be concerned about inventory levels, product fulfillment, and customer experience during peak sales periods, but it won't be worried that your ecommerce solution will cost you even one sale.
No. 4: SaaS Provides a Better ROI
Money makes you agile. When the market turns and your company need to respond, having financial resources available is a distinct and powerful advantage.
It is for this reason businesses often work for efficiency and effectiveness. It is for this reason that return on investment (ROI) is so important. And, enterprise SaaS ecommerce solutions often provide a better ROI than competitive platforms.
"SaaS reduces or even eliminates the high upfront costs that firms spend on hardware and licenses in on-premise projects. SaaS reduces customization costs in favor of lighter-weight, point-and-click configuration and 'best practices' built into the applications," wrote Liz Herbert and Shaheen Parks in a May 2016 Forrester report, "The ROI of SaaS."
Herbert and Parks also said that SaaS tended to reduce the cost of adoption, make adoption faster, and provided for better adoption. In short, SaaS solutions often help your business get more for its money, and to help there are many tools available to help companies optimize their SaaS spend.