January 30, 2009
But now more SaaS vendors, while still providing relatively low start-up costs, are providing effective tool kits that let retailers better control their online merchandising displays and backing their technology up with service, says Bernardine Wu, CEO of FitForCommerce, a consulting firm that helps retailers choose e-commerce technology vendors.
Some licensed software vendors, meanwhile, have begun offering more flexible payment terms along with a mix of licensed and SaaS technology applications. And improvements in web services and other web-based integration technologies make build-your-own still a strong option for merchants with particular needs for highly customized platforms.
Deciding among the options, however, requires a high degree of due diligence, starting with identifying a retailer’s goals and available resources. “It seems such an obvious thing, but many retailers don’t a good job of it,” says Brian Beck, chief operating officer of OvernightPrints.com, a personalized products retailer that is migrating from an in-house to a licensed platform to support major growth.
Beck knows about due diligence better than most. In the past several years, he has also served as a senior executive at two other retail organizations that have made or considered major changes to their e-commerce platforms.
CostumeSuperCenter.com, for which Beck is a former chief operating officer, had operated on a licensed e-commerce platform with a separate order management system. The entire platform was hosted on a third-party web server farm.
But that configuration didn’t support the retailer’s need to integrate its front-end order process with back-end inventory management. When it set out to consider other e-commerce environments, CostumeSuperCenter.com worked with FitForCommerce to match its particular business processes with available technology platforms. It drilled down to the retailer’s need to not only automatically update inventory records as customers ordered items, but to also trigger replenishment from particular warehouses or suppliers whenever stocks fell to a certain minimum level.
A good job
After considering a number of vendors, the retailer chose ProfitCenter Software, which provides an e-commerce platform within an integrated enterprise resource planning system delivered in a SaaS environment. As with any migration to a completely new platform, there were bugs but the new platform did a good job of handling order volumes during its first peak season, Beck says.
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