A standout theme from my inquiries this year was companies coping with symptoms of their monolithic commerce solutions. What I found surprising was the myriad reasons why they keep those solutions in place. I heard lots and lots of frustration, despite all the solutions on the market.
So when I set out to do my research, I began with this hypothesis (reworded for readability by a general audience): It’s not that you “don’t have budget for eCommerce.” It’s that you’re really, really, really bad at writing business cases.
But what I discovered was something different altogether. It was about maturity.
Imagine this . . .
You’re a parent. You leave your 10-year-old home alone on your date night.
When you return, the smoke alarm is going off and the bathtub is overflowing.
Even though we have sensor and automation technology to mass-produce “flood-resistant bathtubs,” that’s not exactly the problem we’re dealing with in that case . . .
Digital maturity is a journey from beginner to intermediate to advanced. Beginners effectively can’t use technology packaged with the advanced crowd in mind.
And it’s easy to misidentify your company’s maturity, because “beginner” isn’t something that established (i.e., old) companies associate themselves with.
It’s also part of our upbringing to become adults and get jobs and stop “being immature,” which makes it easy to resist considering the option that there’s “room to grow up.”
After interviewing 40 end users, agencies, and vendors, I found no correlation between digital maturity and enterprise revenue. How do software companies go to market? With “enterprise” and “commercial” sales teams split by prospects’ revenue size. This inadvertently mistargets buyers, then confusion ensues . . .
Your commerce stack isn’t the root of your problem; your low maturity is your problem. You have to fix your maturity before you can fix your commerce stack.
Here are a few bonus tips that didn’t make it to the final report:
- Don’t confuse your legacy platform’s formal end of life with its end of useful life. Having a support contract from your vendor is not a guarantee of continued relevance. I like to say that it’s necessary but not sufficient. The commerce platform market has modernized, and in nearly all cases, vendors had to abandon their legacy platforms to do so. That should be a clear signal to you. Having a hotline to call for trouble-shooting and hot fixes is the bare minimum — it doesn’t mean it’s substantively useful.
- Orient around your current maturity, but pick technology that will up your game. The experience architecture is predicated on agility, which enables you to iteratively innovate. What this means is that no matter where you are along your maturity journey, you can plan to make small steps toward your goal — whether that goal is customer experience, employee experience, or your own ability to innovate. Forrester clients are starting to recognize that the jump to a full microservices architecture is too far to accomplish in one leap. To avoid the “leap too far,” I recommend that you: Sell stakeholders on your vision, assess your B2B digital maturity, and obsess on the customer journey.
- Be like the Jedi and confront your fears. The sunk cost fallacy is an all-too-real factor in replatforming decisions — and if you fall victim to it, you’ll burn daylight and make matters worse. Don’t let your amortization schedule define your future roadmap, even if you capitalized a new microsite six months ago. Digitally advanced retailers, strategic vendors, and private equity firms alike are pouring investment into cloud-native commerce tech, while the legacy tech is getting only slivers of SG&A for taking you to pacifying dinners. You are the frog, and your legacy stack is the ever-warming water. It’ll be your hesitance, not the water, that will cook you.
On the bright side, the market today has plenty of modernized offerings you can turn to. I would argue it has too many, but the market is correcting this as we speak. The market also offers a variety of ways to engage with vendors — from buying in to a cloud mega suite to picking best-of-breed platforms or assembling your own suite from a set of components in a headless architecture.
Here are a few more bonus tips to help you identify the right option for you:
- If you Googled “what is headless commerce?” today, then headless commerce is not an option for you yet.
- If you bought in to an on-premises mega suite 10 years ago, then you already know that’s not your life-saving option for the next 10 years.
- If you purchase enterprise software all the time, then now’s the time to look at what midmarket and SMB companies are using to compete against enterprises like you.
There’s much more in the full report — including four battle-hardened strategies for rolling out a new platform with no customer disruption.
I’ve partnered up with Emily Pfeiffer from our retail practice to help you make sense of replatforming amid your particular circumstances.
Want to learn more? Forrester clients can check out my new report, “The Top Strategies For Replatforming Your Commerce Solution,” or reach out to schedule an inquiry. Non-clients can purchase the report for a one-time fee.
In the meantime, let me know how your replatforming process is going! Best of luck!