E-commerce Platform Outsourcing

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, June 07, 2007

While IT departments of retailers are facing challenges managing internal technology issues, e-retailers are increasingly turning to outsourcing partners to manage web sites and keep them on the cutting edge of technological innovation. From the Internet Retailer article:

“E-retailing is moving out of the era where retailers have to be engrossed in technology to successfully run the site,” says Jeffrey Max, CEO of outsourcing e-commerce platform provider Venda Inc.

The chief advantages of outsourcing are that the retailer doesn’t have to make technology investments upfront and at the same time achieves a system that can grow as the business grows. In the case of the former, retail managers can implement merchandising and marketing changes to the site without having to enlist their I.T. department for every alteration. In the case of the latter, e-retailers are spared the cost of adding servers that remain underutilized except during peak periods when site traffic and orders jump.

Always updating

“About 20% of the technology used to build an e-retail web site is going to change every two years, which means retailers are in a never-ending cycle of updating the functionality of their sites,” says Curtis Hampshire, general manager of e-commerce platform provider USi eBusiness. “Having an outsourcing partner that can implement and guide them through these changes is more important than ever, because I.T. departments don’t move with the same speed as the web. That’s why they are a cost center, not a profit center.”

Indeed, outsourcing firms which provide software as a service, widely known by the acronym SaaS, are better positioned to help e-retailers navigate changes in web site technology because they work with multiple clients that have similar needs. In contrast, many I.T. departments operate in a vacuum, which limits their view of the e-retailing infrastructure, making them reactive instead of proactive when it comes to implementing web site technology.