The advent of robust selling platforms has led to an exponential increase in the e-commerce industry in recent years. There are over 25 million online stores today, big and small, built on various e-commerce platforms of varying scale.
However, the number of stores successfully earning revenue from their sites is a mere 2.6%!
This discrepancy stems from the fact that most of the small-scale businesses that are initially successful find it difficult to make the transition to enterprise e-commerce, once the customers start rolling in big time.
Most of us view enterprise e-commerce as an essentially larger version of a regular online store. While that is true in the literal sense, there are several other factors that come into play when it comes to multi-million dollar industries. Business at an enterprise level is a whole different ball game, which is why the aforementioned transition is never easy.
Here we shall explore the challenges every entrepreneur faces while setting up an enterprise-level e-commerce store, or transitioning to one.
A Brief Overview of the Enterprise e-Commerce Platforms
The enterprise e-commerce platform, or the enterprise e-commerce software caters to the many different aspects of a large business. It supports all the functionalities required by the store to set up, sell, and market all products and product variations. Unlike small stores, enterprise plans do not have limited bandwidths or a fixed number of visitors; they can have unlimited traction fluctuations without causing any server issues.
The most popular enterprise e-commerce platforms used today are Shopify Plus, Magento Enterprise, and BigCommerce Enterprise.
There are two predominant methods of setting up e-commerce enterprise solutions. The first is a ‘paid hosting + open source e-commerce platform + external, third-party plugins’ approach, while the other is the ‘self-hosted e-commerce platform + integrated plugins’ approach.
Paid Hosting + Open Source e-Commerce Platform
More specifically, in the first approach, you need to choose a hosting plan, a domain name, and then build your e-commerce store with the open source platform you have chosen. Here you are responsible for the security and maintenance of your website and have complete backend access to the core website. Consequently, using this method requires a certain degree of familiarity with web development and coding, for better website customization. Magento’s Enterprise Edition falls under this category.
Self Hosted e-Commerce Platform
In the second method, the self-hosted e-commerce solution allows you complete freedom to build your store without necessitating separate hosting plans. It ensures that you become free from the site maintenance and security hassles of the website, making operations easy and user-friendly. On the downside, however, you have no access to your databases or the back-end of the website and have to rely completely on the software’s development team for the upkeep of your store. BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus work with this module of business development.
Each of the individual enterprise e-commerce solutions has its own advantages and drawbacks, in terms of scalability, ease of use, operational features, and other, peripheral functionalities. The platform can be selected based on your technical expertise, budget, and the potential customization you require.
Despite choosing your e-commerce platform wisely and as per your store’s ever-increasing needs, every store is confronted with various issues. Whether it is a matter of scalability or maintaining your website’s SEO ranking, there are six challenges every large-scale e-commerce website owner faces. These include:
The 6 Challenges of Enterprise e-Commerce
#1 Inadequacy in Scaling
Mega-e-commerce companies often have trouble scaling their e-commerce platform with the increase in their product portfolios. Enterprise-level e-commerce includes organization of thousands of SKU’s, considering multiple products, product variations, and variable costs, which need to be updated regularly. In addition, the company has to incorporate separate methods of scaling to be able to cater to B2B and B2C businesses equally successfully. Quite a lot of the industries in the market tank due to the inability of their website to keep up with the exponential increase in sales.
#2 Cart Abandonment
One of the major problems that enterprise e-commerce faces today is cart abandonment. The average cart abandonment rate today is nearly 70%, due to a multitude of reasons such as high shipping costs, complicated checkout processes, insufficient payment methods, and more. One of the strongest sources of revenue for enterprise-level businesses is the millennial population. However, this age group has increasingly started using e-commerce websites to search for and compare products only for ‘window shopping’ and buying the actual product from a brick-and-mortar store. To mitigate the losses due to cart abandonment, enterprises will have to deploy new, creative solutions to retain consumer interest and convince customers to complete the purchase, thereby increasing the conversion rates.
#3 Increasing Competition
A very real challenge for large-scale enterprises is the increasing competition in e-commerce. The sheer number of websites providing similar products at competitive rates requires the conglomerates to keep on their toes and devise radical marketing strategies to maintain their market share. The increase in the number of local players further drives the competition, as each of the players tries to gauge the market and improve their presence in the market.
#4 Cross-platform integration
Mobile shopping has become an integral part of e-commerce, with a large chunk of the younger generation browsing for products on their smartphones. Due to this rapidly rising demand for mobile integration, e-commerce giants have started taking mobile optimization and app customization seriously.
However, there is more to mobile optimization than just selecting a responsive theme for the website. The problem with enterprise-level businesses is that their efforts for mobile optimization seem half-hearted at best, too little too late. The need of the hour for enterprise e-commerce companies is to actively develop responsive sites with cross-platform integration to see a significant increase in their conversion rates.
Localization indicates tweaking the website to suit the requirements of the area it is functioning in. The local connect is extremely important as it persuades the customer to trust the seller enough to complete the purchase. Insufficient localization was one of the challenges that e-commerce giant Amazon faced when it tapped into the Asian markets.
Nevertheless, the lack of payment methods necessitated Amazon to introduce the ‘Cash on Delivery’ option for the Asian and South-Asian markets, to become a significant shareholder.
Quite a lot of the independent enterprise-level e-commerce businesses suffer due to lack of localization, as it limits the scope of expansion for the company within the market. Companies are faced with the challenge to identify the shortcomings of their local stores and utilize the local resources to their benefit to maximize profits.
#6 Shipping and Delivery Issues
Shipping and delivery can be a logistical nightmare for enterprise-level businesses if handled incompetently. As seen with the hurdle of localization above, shipping and delivery methods need to be adjusted as per the ways and means available to a specific area. Organizing infrastructure and manpower for timely delivery across an entire continent is no mean feat.
Conglomerates have a tendency to over-promise ETA’s for product delivery, which can result in dissatisfied customers and reduced sales. Recruiting the local population as a support mechanism can ensure a smooth supply chain and efficient deliveries in optimum time.
The success story of every enterprise-level e-commerce business is its own. Here we have listed only a few of the common trials and tribulations that practically every company has to go through. Nevertheless, each of these challenges can be overcome with proper planning and a strong marketing and operational strategy. Facing the said challenges is a learning curve for the company and can be a stepping stone to greater success if an appropriate solution is devised to overcome these hurdles!
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