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Enterprise e-commerce

What does the future of E-Commerce look like?

Emporix recently commissioned a report in which top-level decision-makers from the world of B2B and B2C E-Commerce were asked about their perspectives on selecting, implementing and expanding their E-Commerce operations. We’ve talked about the fourth generation of digital commerce, and why organizations are gradually beginning to realize the value in leaving the monolith behind. But what does a future without monoliths look like? 

Both B2B and B2C organizations know that being tied to a specific software vendor and operating on a static platform comes with some severe limitations. Those limitations have become more apparent in recent years as the pace of change has quickened, with businesses that have a more dynamic and agile approach to their commerce operations pulling out ahead when it comes to rolling out new features and services.

This dynamic and agile approach is made possible through a combination of MACH elements, consisting of microservices, API-first development, cloud-native and headless architecture. Instead of adding to their technology stacks, constantly building upwards, businesses are now looking at their foundations and beginning to build outwards, trading vendor lock-ins and lengthy platform cycles for a modular approach that allows them to select best-of-breed services in order to “compose” their own constantly evolving solution.

But what are the priorities of these businesses, and how will E-Commerce look five, ten or twenty years from now? 

How are businesses planning to expand their E-Commerce operations? 

Of all the respondents in our research, 90% said they were already actively planning to update or upgrade their E-Commerce operations. Around a third (35%) said they were planning major extensions and just over half (55%) said they were planning minor extensions - in both cases, the goals were ultimately the same. Businesses seemed unified around ideas like “scalability”, “modularization” and “reduced costs”, but when asked about specific priorities and the routes they were planning on taking, there was some variation. 

Around 12% of organizations are prioritizing marketplace development, with internationalization (9.5%) and CRM integration (9.5%) close behind. Just over 7% of businesses say that the ability to create a subscription-based payment model for the goods or services is their number one priority.

What this tells us is that businesses are ready to embrace this fourth generation of digital commerce and create more joined-up, user-centric experiences whilst also diversifying their revenue streams and creating recurring revenue. 

The ability to integrate with new augmented or virtual reality systems was also mentioned, as was the ability to create omnichannel experiences that could be personalized across devices. These businesses are no doubt trying to capitalize on the trend toward self-service that we’ve seen in recent years, giving customers in both B2B and B2C the ability to interrogate and customize products before they buy, without needing to involve sales teams or other staff members. 

Crucially, respondents seemed to acknowledge that many of the features and changes they required as part of the E-Commerce expansions couldn’t be achieved using conventional monolithic platforms and lengthy vendor lock-ins. They needed the freedom to compose their own best-of-breed solutions, and for that their foundation had to shift slightly.

One global head of E-Commerce commented, “Extending? I think it's less about the extending, and more about creating a headless E-Commerce environment, so that the front-end experience is completely disconnected from the backend.” 

A new engine to power E-Commerce

Composable architecture is unique in that it’s not just another “re-platforming” exercise. It unshackles businesses from this cycle, allowing them to expand their E-Commerce operations on their own terms, either internally or with the help of best-of-breed third party developers or service providers.

As part of our research, we asked respondents to what extent the future developments of their E-Commerce operation would be extensions of their current platform, or new third-party tools and services. 56.7%  referred to external tools or services and 43.3% to developments from their current system. This hybrid approach to E-Commerce is precisely what’s needed if businesses are to start competing for the attention of customers in the near future. 

By balancing their own in-house expertise with that of third-party tools and experts, they’ll be able to create a cost-effective and well-rounded solution that can scale with demand. If they can’t roll out a new feature with their in-house talent and resources, they can simply “purchase” it from the marketplace and integrate it with their current system. 

As one VP of E-Commerce and Sales put it: “I would even go so far as to say that I would reduce our internal capacities further in the future, because of all the facets and possibilities of the system… I think it's better to have it done by professionals. Even if you have the in-house know-how, from my experience, it's usually not at the same level.”

To find out more about our composable commerce solutions, read here.

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