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Bill Mirabito: What You Must Know Before Selecting Your Next E-commerce Platform

I enjoyed Bill Mirabito's panel at Shop.org Orlando very much. His topic was how online retailers should choose their e-commerce platform. "Retailers want to compare Demandware with ATG. But they’re different business models, each is designed for a different kind of retailer," Bill said during the panel. bill mirabito Bill's advice:
Don't choose a platform. First, choose the type of platform. Then, choose the best platform of that type for your business.
Bill characterizes e-commerce platforms in four buckets: Catalyst, Crew, Console, and Custom. I don't fully understand his labels -- "Crew?" -- but his taxonomy is a useful way to think about platforms:
  • Catalyst: Starter kits for SMBs with modest revenue projections; and is built for resourceful clients who need/expect minimal support
    • Best for: Scrappy, small- or mid-size business
    • Small budget for IT and marketing
    • Modest online revenue projections
    • Vendors: Yahoo, Amazon Store, ProStores, osCommerce
  • Crew: Primarily professional services team with turnkey suite of tools, processes and experience to quickly launch an online channel
    • Best for: Strong offline brand, ready for ecommerce
    • Huge potential early on, with just a little help
    • Needs a partner for both tools AND processes
    • Vendors: GSI Commerce, VCommerce, Novator, Fry, eFashion Solutions
  • Console: Commercial-grade shared SaaS for experienced online merchants lacking adequate time/resources to buy/integrate new features
    • Best for: Growing online channel, confident marketers
    • Know what they need, not how to get it
    • Limited or no dedicated support from IT
    • Vendors: Demandware, MarketLive, Truition, Venda
  • Custom: Dedicated enterprise software for self-sufficient retailers with adequate internal development skills and support
    • Best for: Self-sufficient, multi-channel commitment
    • Proficiency on technology, marketing & ops
    • Current platform impedes; upgrade needed
    • Vendors: ATG, Escalate Retail, Microsoft, IBM Websphere, Sterling, BroadVision, iCongo, ElasticPath
Bill's with B2C Partners, a niche consulting firm which helps retailers evaluate platforms. If you're considering replatforming, check out his blog. Link: Selecting the Perfect eCommerce Platform for your Business (ppt)
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