E-commerce versus webshop

Which CMS you will use to successfully deploy e-commerce is determined by your landscape. 

By e-commerce consultant Gijs Bitter

The webshop is only a part of e-commerce

Which CMS are you going to use to successfully deploy your e-commerce strategy? Since the introduction of Magento 2, the rise of Shopware in the Dutch market and the increasing popularity of SaaS services like Shopify, this is a frequently heard question. In the end, the question is more complex than the answer. Perhaps we should even split up the question:

What is your e-commerce ecosystem?

E-commerce is bigger than you would expect. It contains so much more than a CMS in which you manage your own webshop. A webshop is simply one of the sales channels you use to realise online sales of products and/or services. To use the metaphor with cars (to the point of boredom); it's not the engine, the number of horsepower, not your steering wheel and not your throttle. It is at most the color or type of upholstery you want to have to radiate what a 'beautiful car' you have. With this I don't want to do the CMS short. Before you start thinking about the system, another mindset is needed. 

What is e-commerce?

E-commerce includes all systems and flows, from purchasing to (financial) fulfillment and delivery that facilitate your online business. Think of ERP systems (perhaps the engine) in which all master data of your products are stored, your purchase and sales invoices, customers, suppliers and so on. 

The use of a Product Information Management (PIM) tool to enrich all master data and to distribute it to your various channels (of which your webshop is a part) is also part of the landscape. Connections with marketplaces for the distribution to your affiliates will continue to grow in the coming years. Simply linking with these affiliates is not an goal in itself. If everyone does it, how do you make a difference? Deployment of digital marketing is therefore part of your entire e-commerce business. And let's not forget the fulfillment. Which shipper do you choose, how do they deal with your customers? Do you let go of the entire customer journey as soon as the order has been received and paid for? In short, all the systems and services around your online sales, from purchasing to delivery, complete the e-commerce landscape. 

When is e-commerce successful?

This is perhaps the most difficult question. How do you determine when e-commerce is successful? Is this always the numbers at the bottom of the line? Sure, there should be money in the drawer, the chimney should smoke and we all want to go on holiday with a 'nice car' (where have we heard this before?). But in the end, there's more than the ordinary numbers in your bank account. What about your customer satisfaction? Did you set up an ideal customer journey to create a fanbase? Are your customers coming back, not because of the favourable prices, but because of the service and quality you provide? How do you measure this satisfaction? More importantly, how do you deal with it? 

Customer feedback is probably the most valuable data that you can get. Generate and handle this well; act, react and adapt! 

If we can go back to the numbers, don't just look at what's coming in. The whole e-commerce landscape costs money. Think of costs for your ERP, PIM, WMS, Affiliate fees, and yes, the CMS is also sometimes provided with annual license fees. This is still independent of all human resources, both internal and external. Bring your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) before you make a choice of the software for your webshop. By taking into account all software products and services in advance, you will make a solid choice. Strip all the pros and cons against each other.

A simple example. Suppose you have an online shop and you also sell online via marketplaces like Bol, Amazon and Marktplaats. You have Exact Online that you use for article and inventory management and of course the financial fulfillment. This is linked to your e-commerce CMS. Is it still necessary to run a PIM for the enrichment of your product data or can you handle this in your CMS? What you don't have to do is use and set up systems because everyone does it or because you've heard about it. Get advice and choose the most suitable solution for your organisation! 

The last question in the process: which CMS fits best?

If you expect to get an answer to this question, please go over the above again. The CMS you want to use is not a goal, it is one of the means within the intire e-commerce landscape. Your visitors don't care if they shop on Magento 2, Shopware, Shopify or if they have to; Woocommerce. If you make sure that all parts of your e-commerce landscape fit together, you will probably hardly work within this CMS. Okay, well, you'll be setting up campaign pages, adjusting key visuals, and maybe setting up a discount action. The rest is all done outside your CMS, if well equipped. 

Of course, you don't have to figure this all out for yourself. Make use of digital agencies that can think along with you to set up everything. Consultants who are not restricted by any knowledge of technology will have to be excluded. Enlist a professional party that provides professional and honest advice on the various systems. After all, a Maserati as a shopping trolley remains just a shopping trolley. 

Do you let go of the entire customer journey as soon as the order has been received and paid for? All systems and services around your online sales, from purchasing to delivery, complete the e-commerce landscape.

Gijs Bitter

E-commerce Consultant

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E-commerce Consultant
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Gijs Bitter