Optimization glossary

Enterprise commerce

Enterprise commerce is selling that occurs on an enterprise-level. Typically, you'll see this term applied to mean enterprise-grade ecommerce software.

Enterprise commerce software or platforms aren't the same as other ecommerce platforms. They involve more robust tools for tracking inventory, managing customers (CRM), and handling greater amounts of sales. 

Enterprise commerce vs. ecommerce

eCommerce stands for electronic commerce -- online shopping that's expected to make up 14.3 percent of all sales in 2021. Loads of tools and platforms exist out there which any person or business can leverage. Some common ecommerce platforms include:

  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Big Cartel
  • Shopify

An ecommerce business that's run on platforms like these may be large operations or just a single person running them. Shopify alone powers 426,600 websites which each generate less than $1 million in revenue per year.

Enterprise commerce is a specific type of ecommerce. It's usually defined by multi-million-dollar revenue, large operations, and a global brand presence. Some examples of enterprise commerce platforms include:

Platforms like these have the infrastructure and tools necessary to handle larger volumes of sales and customers. Many, like Optimizely, also give companies a way to seamlessly unify all of their operations in a digital ecosystem. Pricing can differ between free open-source platforms and managed cloud services (SaaS).

Signs a business is ready for enterprise commerce solutions

Enterprise-grade commerce solutions are usually something that businesses grow into over time, but that doesn't mean you can't start there if you must.

Many businesses turn to enterprise commerce when their current platform is no longer adequate for their operations. Some signs that this is the case include:

  • Downtime increases. If your platform, site, or attached services are constantly going down, it may be a sign that things are unable to meet current demand or traffic levels.
  • The platform doesn't support the functionalities you need. One sign you need additional functionalities is if you find your team performing manually performing certain tasks over and over for each transaction.
  • You're reaching out to more services to get the tools your business needs. If you're constantly looking for add-on services, you would benefit from a unified interface with more tools.
  • You experience bottlenecks in service or production. An inadequate system can slow things down by making it harder to find information such as customer order histories, vendor information, supply chain data, inventory management, or more.
  • Global sales are a chore. A platform that doesn't support language or currency options can inhibit your ability to take your brand global.
  • It's difficult to get a complete financial picture of your ecommerce activities. From lost invoices to inaccurate reporting, the risks of an incomplete financial picture are dire. If hunting this information down is difficult, you need more robust software.
  • You can't add more team members. Many non-enterprise commerce platforms restrict the number of people who can log into the back end. If you're coming up against this restriction, it's time to move to enterprise commerce for scalability.

Benefits of moving to enterprise commerce

Having a good product or service only matters if you're able to deliver it --the wrong tools can hamper even the best ideas. 

For companies in the ecommerce space, that means transitioning to enterprise commerce software when a platform is no longer adequate. Once you do, some benefits you may experience include:

  • A better customer experience. Customer experience isn't just about how well your online store functions or how beautiful your checkout interface is. It's about how well your business delivers goods and services to your customers. To do it well, you need a management platform that can help you meet your customers' needs. 
  • Operational efficiency. Enterprise commerce solutions are typically cloud-based or hosted on-premise, which helps to integrate with your crm. They also help keep all of your critical business functions within a single ecosystem, rather than forcing your team to toggle between services. Together, these features make your business processes faster and more efficient.
  • Scalable functionalities. Whether you've got one site or several, an enterprise-grade ecommerce solution can help you manage them all seamlessly. Likewise, these platforms typically support powerful integrations and APIs to help you get the tools you need.
  • Improved security. Research at the end of 2020 showed that just over a third of the top U.S. retailers have vulnerabilities that represent a cybersecurity risk. Enterprise-grade ecommerce solutions can curb this not just through more robust security, but through better visibility into a company's operations.
  • Deeper analytics. The modern business landscape is driven by data. A management platform capable of harvesting and analyzing data can help you make smarter business decisions faster.
  • Omnichannel delivery. Enterprise ecommerce solutions can bridge gaps between physical and digital stores. This means more seamless experiences, smoother transactions, and increased customer satisfaction.

Features of a good enterprise commerce platform

There are many enterprise ecommerce platforms out there, but not all are created equal. What you need will depend on your business. However, some key features of a solid enterprise ecommerce solution include:

  • Personalization. McKinsey found that personalizing the customer experience can boost revenue by as much as 20 percent. Look for tools that allow you to serve up personalized content, recommendations, and user interactions.
  • Content intelligence. Content is the backbone of your brand, and you'll need a good content management suite to handle it. Don't stop there. Look for content intelligence tools that can automatically analyze, categorize, and audit your content.
  • Performance tools. Performance-related tools like metric tracking can give you an idea of how you're performing. They also can help you experiment with new features and perform testing to discover what works.
  • Collaboration support. One of the major benefits of enterprise commerce solutions is the ability to keep everything in one place. Make sure that includes team collaboration, to help everyone stay on the same page.

Ultimately, the right solution should include all of the tools you need to keep your ecommerce activities streamlined, unified, and visible.