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Share The life expectancy of an e-commerce platform is roughly three to five years before it requires a make-over. But renewing your platform is time consuming and a high cost endeavor. The solution?  Learn why and how to future-proof your e-commerce.

After more than 10 years of experience with e-commerce implementations, I have a pretty good feel for what an e-commerce platform needs to last a decade. Future-proof solutions rest on three key pillars:

1. Extended possibilities for recognizing and targeting customers

Personalization or contextual marketing experience is hot and here to stay. Every self-respecting CMS features personalization or prioritizes it on their roadmap. The depth of personalization options vary enormously among the different CMS out there.

A future-proof e-commerce solution should at the very least enable you to track, recognize and segment your personas. Each persona should get a relevant personalized experience based on the offered content and products. 

2. Seamless user experience

Today's customers are spoiled for choice. They expect certain functionalities based on previous experiences on other platforms or the disruptive influence of companies like AirBnB. Not meeting their expectations means that you will fall out of grace immediately.

Customers demand a seamless experience across all your channels. And even if your platform is ready to implement personalization, never lose track of the ever-changing demands of your customers. Staying ahead of your customers will save you time and resources and keep you future- proof.

3. Flexible and pluggable

It’s only logical that your new platform has built-in flexibility. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Your new platform should be able to evolve in alignment with the changing demands of your customers and of your organization. You must be able to adapt to personalization and continuously take it further, to change product ranges, and to develop the maturity of your marketing department. 

In addition to flexibility you must also be able to adopt and integrate third party solutions to your platform. For example, provide your customers with a 3D view of how that piece of furniture would look in their home or accommodate the payment method that is taking the world by storm. Your platform must allow you to integrate the tools that your customers expect on your website.

How to future proof your e-commerce

How to achieve a future-proof online store

Before you start building your e-commerce platform, it’s essential to formulate your vision and strategy, the ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your e-commerce. To maximize your competitive edge, surround yourself with a multidisciplinary team from the very start.

Your strategy is also important as a benchmark. Naturally, you can’t measure your success without comparing the results to clear, preset goals and targets at every step of your customer journey.

What you need to launch your future-proof solution

Time and budget are your main concerns. Building a future-proof enterprise e-commerce doesn’t come cheap. And often your required budget is dependent on your desired time to market.

Everybody wants to live sooner rather than later. But building a sustainable solution takes time. A standard out-of-the-box installation without built-in integration could under normal circumstances be done in a couple of weeks. With alterations, your design and basic integrations would extend that development time to several months. Including a fully integrated enterprise e-commerce solution to the mix would take at least 9-12 months. 

When building a future-proof e-commerce solution of some scale, making it a component-based implementation is your best bet. Not only do ready-to-use components save you valuable time and resources, they also provide you with necessary flexibility.

Much like our accelerator Mercury, built specifically for Sitecore Commerce, you use your valuable time and resources to expand your competitive edge by personalizing the customer experience. Instead of having to build every single component yourself you spend that time on personalization, optimizing touchpoints and conversion points. 

With or without an accelerator, the build will still take several months. Use that time to fully comprehend and utilize your solution. A higher level of personalization requires more content that needs to be uploaded into your CMS. This in turn requires a high level of skill with and knowledge of your solution, obtained via training. 

Testing, testing and more testing

Assuming that every aspect of your platform will work as it should is a pitfall. You should take the time to test and double test everything in your online store. These tests should be performed by all disciplines involved: IT, marketing, sales, customer service, and warehousing. Make sure to include your customers in this process too. You will get valuable insights on possible friction points based on their user experiences.

Get the right professionals for each job

Building an enterprise e-commerce solution is not a one-man job. It requires a team of professionals from multiple disciplines to get the best results: Strategists, conceptual thinkers, designers, interaction specialists, business consultants, front-end and back-end developers, integration specialists and system managers. Not to mention a project manager, of course.

All these people are necessary to technically launch the platform. You still need content marketers, product marketers, and online marketers to create and spread content that will drive your sales.

Ready for take-off

After months of building, testing, personalizing and creating content, your platform is finally good to go. Or is it? Plan the transition to your new platform carefully to make it as smooth as possible. That includes informing your customers about upcoming changes and increasing customer service occupation.

Work out a transition scenario in cooperation with your SEO, SEA and social experts to make sure that your links, ads, and campaigns are optimized. If you’re building a future-proof online store you must ensure a smooth transition to give it the kickstart it deserves.

Finally, while your new future-proof online store might last 10 years, your strategy won’t. You can never stop developing, modifying, or improving your platform. To really safeguard your future, optimize your strategy and platform on a daily basis to stay ahead of your customers.  


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