Scalable Ecommerce Architecture: From Theory to Practice
Growing the revenue doesn't happen as is. It is always connected to overall business growth. This is not only about increasing the number of employees or selling more products anymore: the modern market requires a business to grow at its core, starting with the very heart of it: digital ecommerce software.
Scalable ecommerce means the business can scale on all levels, from software and MACH architecture to employee proficiency level. This is why scalability must be a vital capability of any ecommerce system. The list of scalability pros is really huge: from innovation readiness to more straightforward process operation: the ones who know how to scale efficiently always win.
But how to develop a scalable ecommerce architecture? In this article, we will share some insights on building a stable, robust, and scalable ecommerce for fast growth.
Understanding Scalable eCommerce
When we talk about scalable commerce, we always mean the ability of a business to grow along with the market, handle more processes and greater volumes, keeping the revenue level high while growing seamlessly. However, this concept belongs to scalable platforms only that can easily process all the challenges non-scalable ones may encounter.
Here, we mean the following challenges:
- Non-scalable monolithic platforms cannot quickly respond to market demands, leading to long development of new features and capabilities. For example, regular SaaS solutions often require a confirmation from the vendor, so the client can wait for months until the feature is released (or never released at all).
- Scaling here and now. eCommerce systems often deal with quick sales and peak periods. While scalable platforms like Virto can scale right away when the system is overloaded with orders, a non-scalable solution might crash, and the business will lose revenue.
- As the business grows, its ecommerce solution should be composable to be able to expand either, in terms of supporting more employees and processes. It often happens that the business has to add more capabilities and has to purchase another solution of the same kind just because the previous one cannot deal with the workload.
One of Virto’s clients, De Klok Dranken, is the perfect example of scalable B2B ecommerce. As the company grew, it realized that peak periods in sales were quite often. With Virto, they could build a quickly scalable system ready to expand in just a few seconds when there are many purchases and then turn it all back when the load normalizes. This enables the company to provide always seamless customer experience, even during the peak season.
Key Factors in Making an eCommerce Platform Scalable
So, scalability is clear. But how to reach the level of scalability you really need? Where does scalability start?
First of all, a solid technical infrastructure with ecommerce microservices architecture is needed. Transparent and modular scalable ecommerce architecture helps build any feature or capability business needs. For example, Virto Atomic Architecture supposes that business can develop and add any feature needed at any moment of the platform use.
While being modular or offering microservices, the architecture must be flexible and upgradeable. For example, it must allow connecting third-party apps while still being able to create its own inner modules. As for upgradeability, any scalable ecommerce system must be able to scale and grow while still accepting vendor’s upgrades seamlessly.
Another important factor of making your ecommerce platform scalable is making sure that the resources for scaling are enough. Your website must be fast and provide great performance to ensure the best CX. Your systems must be able to scale in terms of their physical capabilities. If your physical servers are not enough, it’s time to move to the cloud.
However, not all cloud-based solutions are cloud-native. Always remember that the really scalable solution must be initially tailored to work in the cloud, as you never know how big your business is going to grow.
Implementing Scalability Strategies
Generally, there are several different strategies for scaling ecommerce: some start by attracting more new customers and building loyalty programs for the existing ones (it is all about the perfect CX!), while others start with better advertising to get more orders or hire more people to produce more.
Any of these strategies requires more software resources and a detailed plan of how to scale the whole business through the chosen strategy. Whatever journey you start, there are always the same steps to consider:
1. Conduct a scalability assessment.
At this step, you must thoroughly analyze your goals, expected results, and existing resources. If your resources are insufficient, consider choosing cloud-native solutions that will provide unlimited server space.
2. Select the right technology stack.
Choose modular systems with open code, allowing you to build your own modules and features whenever needed. Avoiding outdated SaaS solutions that offer out-of-the-box features only is the strategy that will lead you to success in the future due to higher readiness for innovation.
Such systems must also be extensible and provide capabilities for building either multivendor and single-vendor marketplaces, as most businesses still use different solutions from different vendors. Extensibility means the capability to grow by connecting third-party apps and solutions to the main system. Modern platforms like Virto Commerce make such connections with APIs.
Modern, scalable systems can use AI and automation or even be governed by AI. This is the latest trend in the market of ecommerce solutions which means it is always a good idea to have this capability in your pocket when preparing to scale.
3. Keep analyzing.
Never stop counting your wins and faults with the statistics. Once you have started your scaling process, the chosen scalable commerce platform must collect and analyze all the data to ensure that you are moving the right way.
4. Ensure you always innovate.
Scaling and growth are always connected to readiness for innovation. The main battlefield today is the number of loyal customers. And modern customers require being in trend. From now on, you will need to care about your customers ever-rising expectations to scale your business faster.
Scaling an Online Business
Just to make it all easier for you, we have collected some of our insights on where to begin. Here is a short step-by-step guide on how to scale your digital ecommerce business:
- Start with an analysis and your current capabilities justification.
A stable foundation means a user-friendly website, a reliable hosting provider, good inventory management, and efficient customer service.
- Make your website/marketplace usable.
Improve your website's user experience (UX), use high-quality product images, implement retargeting campaigns, and offer guest checkouts to convert more visitors into customers.
- Add new products or services.
Introduce complementary products or expand your product range to cater to a wider audience.
- Go global or move to new regions.
If feasible, consider selling internationally or at least trying the new region. Localize your website to cater to different languages, currencies, and customs regulations. For example, one of our clients, Heineken, has moved to another region to find a bigger market and selling opportunities.
- Automate your processes.
Implement systems or software for inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer service to handle the increased volume of orders. Ensure your system’s physical scaling also happens automatically.
- Take care of your customers.
As your business grows, so do customer expectations. Invest in training for your customer service team and consider 24/7 support options.
- Increase traffic and attract more potential buyers.
Use a combination of search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and content marketing to draw more visitors.
Marketing and advertising can generally push your business forward, this is why it is also a great idea to try some evergreen and new marketing strategies:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Influencer collaborations
- Affiliate marketing
- Retargeting and more.
Another important part of the process is building a solid CRM system enabling you to provide personalized experiences constantly. With loyalty programs, personalization tools, and feedback mechanisms, you can always see how your customers live and what they actually need.
Marketing tools for successful scaling
Virto Commerce: an Example of a Scalable eCommerce Platform for Enterprises
Among all the ecommerce platforms on the market, only a few can provide a full complex of features and capabilities to scale ecommerce seamlessly. Virto Commerce is the one. Virto Commerce takes the first prize in seamless scaling compared to outdated SaaS ecommerce platforms like SAP, Salesforce, or Oracle. Here is why:
- The platform is scalable due to the capabilities of connecting to third-party solutions.
- It can be easily scaled thanks to Virto Atomic Architecture™ modular architecture.
- Open code allows for building your own application to cover all the requirements needed to grow.
- The headless scalable commerce architecture allows for connecting as many frontends with all the backends needed.
- Readiness for innovation. The solution is always ready to scale due to the implementation of the latest technologies and best practices and constant upgrades.
Virto Commerce focuses on meeting the unique needs and complexities of the market with modular architecture and extensibility, empowering businesses to scale their operations as they grow.
For example, De Klok Dranken, Virto's client, could create their own loyalty platform to accommodate business requirements to the customer's needs. Another client, Heineken, has built a Virto-based scalable ecommerce platform supporting an extensive, constantly growing catalog (from hundreds to millions of SKUs).
All in all, scaling your online business is totally possible. And while it might seem complicated to scale enterprises, it is even more accessible when the right software and a thorough plan are chosen.
Scaling is not just a way to grow your revenue. It is also the tool to provide long-term success for the business regarding CX, loyalty, and convenience.
To begin the digital transformation, you need to analyze your current state, plan your goals, and choose a trusted software. Even if you are just starting with your plans, try a short demo or consultation with Virto Team, and the experts will help you realize which way of scaling would be the best for your business.