The need for businesses to have digital commerce has noticeably increased over the years, but just a few weeks ago, what was once nice to have is now a must-have. Worldwide, companies are dealing with temporary closures to brick-and-mortar stores in the wake of this global pandemic. As a result, the only form of commerce that exists for many consumers is digital. Many businesses are now challenged with getting reliable online commerce up and running, but also doing it fast to minimize the loss of customers and stay competitive—here’s how you can do just that.

What businesses don’t have an online commerce presence?

A variety of research from Klarna – a bank and popular payment processor in Sweden – as well as digital and eCommerce agencies in New York, show that anywhere from 60-70%, or two-thirds of online shopping carts are abandoned due to poor experience. Many businesses have not invested enough in creating engaging experiences online as digital commerce was always viewed as ‘just another channel’ instead of the main channel for revenue.

A number of retail businesses such as discount stores (i.e. dollar stores and off-price clothing retailers), convenience stores, grocery retailers and specialty shops have also found it difficult to justify eCommerce due to the economics of their business model, and have found comfort and safety in their in-store sales up until recently.

On top of all these businesses who have disregarded digital commerce, there are also many still running on legacy commerce suites that are woefully inadequate for modern times, let alone pandemic lockdowns when online is the only way to shop. Here are many of the pain points caused by legacy platforms:

  • Scaling: Legacy platforms were not built to scale and handle unexpected increases in demand. This leads to poor site performance and downtime, causing lost revenue.
  • Time-to-market: When adding critical business functionality, like click-and-collect or contactless curbside pickup solutions, having to wait for the next build to deploy new features and content is a killer. Especially when your competition can go live instantly with modern commerce.
  • Costs: Commerce suites of the past cost more over time, incurring particularly high maintenance⁠ fees—feature fixes, compatibility and more⁠. These resources could be better spent running your core business.

What are my options?

Smaller merchants are welcome to evaluate eCommerce providers suited to their size and budget. However, for larger businesses these types of ‘quick and easy’ commerce services aimed at individuals and small-time sellers are out of the question because they’re meant for lower sales volume and provide little control. ⁠

It’s better to get things done right on the first try and go with a proper modern commerce platform, whether your business is looking to move away from an outdated system or get into online commerce for the first time.

One prominent barrier for large enterprises is the time it takes to set up shop with complex product catalogs, multiple channels, extensive business processes and use cases, multiple brands and global commerce. This very involved process typically takes 4 to 6 months, but if you’re in an environment like today, you need to be faster⁠—much faster.

That’s when a business accelerator comes in to save the day.

What is the Accelerator?

As the name suggests, an accelerator is a program that helps your business speed up the process of starting something, scaling it up and getting results. The new commercetools Accelerator combines our leading API-based modern enterprise commerce platform with pre-built frontends from our partners to power a greater commerce experience. Frontends and storefront options include those available in the commercetools Integration Marketplace. 

Our newly-launched Accelerator pairs our powerful commerce platform with Vue Storefront so you can get a Progressive Web App (PWA) that has great theme support and can be evolved and customized based on your requirements. A PWA is a type of website that serves as the front end for your customers – where they interact, browse items, and make purchases. The main advantages of a PWA compared to a typical website is the ability to provide app-like traits, such as working offline and having a more App-like look and feel, but without requiring users to install anything.

Both commercetools and Vue Storefront:

  • Are Headless – meaning back ends and front ends are independently interchangeable.
  • Support microservices and GraphQL, a modern and powerful way to query APIs.
  • Enable the use of a modern JavaScript stack.
  • Are conducive for rapid prototyping and development for getting up and running, fast.

This powerful combination allows businesses to deploy an excellent customer experience for the web (on mobile and desktop) in a quick and efficient way. It also enables the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP) in as little as 2 weeks so you can start receiving orders, serving customers, and generating revenue. Once you’ve established your MVP and started to see success, you’re able to grow into the highly flexible commercetools platform and take advantage of all the enterprise capabilities we offer.

Who is the ideal user for the Accelerator?

The commercetools Accelerator makes it easy for businesses to get started quickly, while still remaining flexible to future expansion after the initial steps are taken. For instance, you could build an MVP for your top 500 products, quickly go online and draw in sales, and then increase the scope and scale of your commerce project to serve more complex needs of your business. Even if you have a complex product catalog, you can set up shop now with parts of it and be able to add the rest of it later⁠ without hiccups.

This is suited for enterprises that want to get an MVP to market quickly but have limited development capacity and/or have front-end technology lower on their list of priorities. Here are some examples of situations that these enterprises might be dealing with:

  • Complex product catalogs and business models (i.e. grocery stores, convenience stores, café chains that sell merchandise) that need a more flexible solution.
  • Brick & mortar stores that want to get online quickly and plan to grow into a full-fledged enterprise commerce solution later – with time-to-market being a critical factor.
  • Businesses with existing eCommerce presence that suffers from peak-performance issues due to poor implementation and/or legacy commerce solutions.

The Accelerator enables businesses to launch an enterprise-class online commerce presence within weeks, not months, creating an easy first step to migrate away from rigid legacy platforms. We’re in a unique position as one of the only enterprise commerce vendors to offer the ability to get up and running from scratch within such a short period of time.

What are you waiting for? Learn more about our Accelerator or get started today!

About the author

Brad Soo is Product Marketing Manager at commercetools, where he strives to spread the word on the endless possibilities that modern commerce (headless, API-first, cloud-native, etc.) can offer businesses. Brad has been in product-centric roles in the tech and software industry, from large corporations like HP, all the way to SaaS startups in Berlin.