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Hacked Into a Corner

Three signs that you’ve outgrown your ecommerce platform

It started out simple enough: table-stakes commerce features and an easy setup were all you needed, so you went with a SaaS solution that fit the bill. Then, your business grew. And grew. Soon, you found yourself butting up against the limitations of your platform. So you established workarounds, and for a while, they worked (more or less). But now that your business is evolving, those well-intentioned hacks no longer bear fruit. Now, no matter how you try to fix, update, iterate, customize, extend, or add onto your platform, the results stay the same: you’re frustrated, and the walls are closing in—fast.

If you’re an enterprise retailer looking to build your own unique brand experience, someone else’s cookie-cutter commerce platform can only take you so far. But how do you know when you’ve been hacked into a corner? And what can you do to move past it— and past your competitors—toward scalability, innovation, and growth?

Here are three signs that you’re outgrowing your out-of-the-box ecommerce platform:

Your story isn’t getting told

It’s true that an out-of-the-box solution, with its built-in features, templated layouts, and general ease of use, helps you hit the ground running. But convenience comes at the cost of originality. Successful enterprise retailers have a specific, consistent, and meaningful idea of what they want their brand experience to be, and usually, that idea goes far beyond the look, feel, and messaging of a website alone.

Effective brand storytelling involves customizing all aspects of the shopping experience, from the frontend CMS to the cart to the checkout flow to the account admin page. Retailers need the freedom to express their brand identity in as many ways as possible: by embedding inline video into product pages, by introducing interactive concepts—such as questionnaires—to the customer journey, by switching out different modules throughout the cart, by personalizing content based on where in the world a shopper lives, and so on. Retailers should also have the ability to deliver on-brand mobile experiences that are just as powerful as desktop.

Some platforms feature third-party customization plug-ins or apps that retailers pick and choose à la carte. It’s a convenient hack, but integrating a hodge-podge of third-party code doesn’t usually result in a cohesive user experience or brand identity. If you’re not given full access to the codebase, then your story isn’t getting properly told to your customers.

Performance just isn’t what it used to be

With the rise of mobile, omnichannel, AI, AR, and global retail, commerce continues to grow more complex with each passing year. It’s a good problem to have—more channels = bigger markets = greater opportunities—but when your infrastructure isn’t ready for the uptick in traffic, that boon turns into a bust by affecting site speed. And when performance issues persist, they unnecessarily affect your bottom line.

Page load times slowing down during a big sale? Cart takes forever to load over the holidays? Or even worse, experiencing dreaded downtime? An overall dip in speed and performance is a tell-tale sign your platform either isn’t scaling its resources properly, or simply isn’t able to handle the high volume of orders coming in. Traditional retailers, for instance, typically deal with traffic spikes by over-provisioning server power during peak hours—a method that is expensive, cumbersome, and becoming increasingly untenable as a business practice.

Today’s modern infrastructures prepare for changes in performance load by providing elasticity, which allows systems to automatically provision and deprovision server power based on what is required of them. The result: stable site speeds at a lower cost.

The costs are cutting into your profits

This one’s probably not something you anticipated. After all, isn’t an out-of-the-box solution supposed to be cheaper than doing it yourself?

While it may be true that the initial cost of setup is significantly lower than paying a one-time licensing fee, many major commerce providers generate their revenue by charging retailers transaction fees per customer order. Or, they charge a higher monthly fee based on gross revenue. As your order volume increases—and your profits climb—these fees add up, until eventually, the benefits of the platform no longer outweigh the costs.

How to break free of your limitations

When an enterprise retailer outgrows their SaaS solution, it usually indicates that it’s time to replatform. At this point, many folks opt to build their own in-house system, which provides the complete freedom, customizability, and IP control they need at the enterprise level. Yet oftentimes, this option ends up resulting in a higher total cost of ownership: initial build, migration costs, testing, maintenance, software updates, and development time are all costs to consider when choosing homegrown. There’s also the time and resource cost of onboarding new devs, acclimating them to your system, and hiring new talent.  

If you’re looking for that level of control and flexibility, but you’re put off by the cost and uncertainty of doing everything in-house, there is a third alternative: an open commerce solution like Reaction Commerce, which combines the convenience of out-of-the-box platforms with the flexibility of homegrown. For instance, unlike traditional cookie-cutter platforms, Reaction allows full access to our codebase, giving retailers the ability to own their own data and control their own code.

Regardless of whether you choose to buy or build, don’t get hacked into a corner! Switching platforms can be a painful process, but it’s important to focus on the next level of growth by staying proactive. If you suspect you’re outgrowing your commerce software, you’ll want to perform a full audit of your systems and assess your needs as you look into alternative solutions. But most importantly, you’ll want to look for a platform that not only helps you to scale, but scales with you. Do this, and you’ll never have to migrate again.


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The open, API-first Reaction Commerce platform lets you respond more quickly to customer needs—and stay ahead of the competition. See if Reaction is the right solution to help drive growth and innovation for your commerce enterprise.

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