How to Choose An Enterprise Ecommerce Platform

Words by Ashley R. Cummings


This year, global ecommerce sales are expected to hit $5 trillion for the first time ever. While global ecommerce growth has been slowing as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, it’s still on an overall upward trajectory and is projected to hit more than $7 trillion by 2025.

These stats provide a look into how quickly and robustly the ecommerce industry is growing. They also show how much competition is entering the global ecommerce space.

If you want to stay ahead of the competition and snag a healthy portion of that multitrillion-dollar pie, you have to invest in a reliable and scalable enterprise ecommerce tool.

This article will cover everything you need to know about enterprise ecommerce tools and help you select one for your ecommerce enterprise.

What is an enterprise ecommerce system?

An enterprise ecommerce system is a comprehensive software that helps large businesses operate online and grow sales efficiently. An excellent enterprise ecommerce solution will help large business owners make more sales, manage inventory, and track customers, and will provide solutions to streamline operations.

Enterprise ecommerce systems differ from smaller ecommerce platforms because they’re built for high-volume and high-growth companies.

“Enterprise-level ecommerce platforms offer a high degree of scalability. As businesses grow, they need an ecommerce platform that can handle increased traffic and transactions. Enterprise-level platforms are built on a robust infrastructure that can support a large number of users and transactions,” says Will Yang, head of growth at Instrumentl.

As such, enterprise software typically has more features, is highly customizable, and integrates with other essential ecommerce tools and ERP systems.

Features business owners should look for in an enterprise ecommerce system include:

  • Customizable to match the design and needs of your store
  • Scalable to provide support as you grow
  • Unlimited bandwidth and web hosting (cloud-hosted)
  • High-speed performance with global dual content delivery networks
  • Robust integrations with other leading ecommerce tools
  • Tight security features and Level 1 PCI compliance
  • Access to data migration tools
  • Mobile commerce apps that are easy to use
  • Point of sale (POS)
  • User-friendly and easy to navigate
  • Design templates
  • Omnichannel content delivery
  • Reliable and accessible support team

What are the main advantages of enterprise-level ecommerce platforms?

Smaller ecommerce platforms are designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that don’t see high traffic volumes and don’t capture hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in sales.

If you’re running a small ecommerce store and only manage a handful of sales every day, there are plenty of ecommerce solutions that will suit your needs.

But, as soon as your business starts to grow, it’s essential to migrate from your legacy or small ecommerce platform to an enterprise platform that can adequately handle the volume of an enterprise ecommerce business.

Think of it like hosting an event. If you’re hosting a small dinner party for your work friends, you can invite your guests into your home and provide a wonderful experience. If you’re hosting a gala for your industry, your home won’t do. To accommodate your needs and the needs of your guests, you need to rent a large, classy event space.

“The main benefit of being an enterprise-level ecommerce platform is the bandwidth to cater to any ecommerce business, regardless of size, and help them scale,” says Gabrielle Wooden, senior content marketing manager at Tapcart.

But providing enough bandwidth to keep your site up and running during traffic surges isn’t the only benefit of enterprise-level ecommerce platforms.

“The main advantage of enterprise-level ecommerce platforms is that they are scalable and can grow with your business. They offer features that are not available in the free software. They also have integrations and partnerships with other vendors,” said Krittin Kalra, founder of Writecream.

“Enterprise-level platforms offer a wide range of features and functionality, from sophisticated search and navigation to powerful marketing and merchandising tools. This allows businesses to tailor their ecommerce solutions to their specific needs and requirements,” adds Will Yang.

“These platforms also offer excellent security and compliance features. This is essential for businesses that handle sensitive customer data or are subject to industry regulations.”

Types of enterprise ecommerce software

To understand the different types of ecommerce solution options (and pick the right one), it’s first essential to understand the technical, behind-the-scenes aspects of what is required to run an online store effectively.

All ecommerce stores need:

  • Hosting. Since online stores are ecommerce websites, they need to acquire server space on the web. To make it easier, think of it in terms of housing. The server is the house—space to live. Hosting is how you go about securing that space. For example, you can build a house, buy a house, rent a house, or share a house. It’s the same with hosting. Additionally, hosting (like houses) provides accessibility, security, and reliability.
  • Front-end features. The front end of your site is your digital storefront. It includes everything customers see and interact with when they land on your hosted ecommerce store, such as design, product description pages, shopping carts, and search bars.
  • Back-end functionality. Coming in hot with another Computer Geek term, “back end” simply means the server side of your site. The back end processes, stores, and transmits all relevant data like product information, order history, and customer data. It also uses those ones and zeroes to communicate messages between the server and the front end, so customers can see when there’s a stockout and your employees know when to make a new order.

The different types of enterprise ecommerce software solutions simply refer to how many of these tasks you want to build, maintain, and manage yourself.

Let’s take a look at the three main types of enterprise ecommerce solutions.

1. What is a SaaS enterprise ecommerce solution?

SaaS stands for software-as-a-service. Enterprise ecommerce solutions are one type of SaaS solution. There are also SaaS solutions for marketing, advertising, sales management, customer management, operations, and analytics.

SaaS is growing rapidly in popularity across all industries. In fact, Statista reports the SaaS industry will exceed $100 billion by the end of this year.

It makes sense why SaaS is growing so rapidly. It’s popular among non–technically trained business owners and ecommerce merchants because it does the hard work from a single platform.

With a SaaS enterprise ecommerce solution, you rent your server space and the SaaS solution manages everything. This means you don’t have to go outside of the SaaS platform to get hosting, secure your website, comply with PCI standards, maintain your platform, or manage the uptime of your site.

A SaaS enterprise ecommerce solution also provides quick and easy front-end functionality. You can design your store, set up your shopping cart, add your products, and flesh out your product pages from within the platform.

But that’s not all. A SaaS platform also helps you manage your back-end operations, so you can track, store, and manage orders from within the platform.

In essence, a SaaS solution takes the technical DIY out of the equation and does it for you. The one tradeoff is you have less back-end and code-level control.

2. What is a headless enterprise ecommerce solution?

A headless ecommerce enterprise solution is a type of SaaS solution and smart innovation in commerce tech. All headless ecommerce solutions are SaaS, but not all SaaS ecommerce platforms are headless.

With a headless ecommerce solution, you get similar hosting and back-end functionality to a traditional enterprise ecomm SaaS tool. For example, it will provide PCI compliance, inventory management, and tight security.

The difference is that it decouples the front-end and back-end architectures and offers more flexibility to customize the front-end experience, or “the head.”

“We’re seeing many companies choose a headless ecommerce solution because it allows them to create unique, rich experiences for their customers. By using a headless solution, they benefit from a faster site, omnichannel capabilities, and deeper personalization,” says Lidia Infante, senior SEO manager at Sanity.

“Headless platforms are essential for DTC brands, in particular, who use digital experiences to communicate their values and build strong relationships with their customers in a highly competitive landscape.”

A headless SaaS ecommerce solution is an excellent choice for enterprises that:

  • Need more flexibility with design and UX
  • Want to customize the customer journey
  • Operate in a quickly evolving industry
  • Plan to scale rapidly
  • Want to make changes to the front end of the site without affecting back-end operations
3. What is an open source enterprise ecommerce solution?

Open source ecommerce enterprise solutions are open to anyone and sometimes free to download and use. The caveat is you have to do a lot of the coding yourself to create and customize your store.

“There are some great advantages to leveraging an open source ecommerce platform like Adobe Commerce, formerly Magento. Ultimately, open source gives you complete control. Although, this control comes at a cost financially and it’s resource-intensive,” says ecommerce consultant Elliott Davidson.

“Additionally, with a platform like Shopify Plus, you don’t need to do regular software updates to prevent security risks. Shopify Plus takes care of this for you. To protect you against security risks from an open source perspective, you’ll have to either hire an agency on retainer or take this in-house.”

Using an open source platform may be a good option for highly skilled coders, but it’s crucial to remember you don’t get the same all-in-one functionality that you get with a SaaS solution. You’ll have to purchase and manage any third-party apps, add-ons, or extensions you use to run your store. You also have to pay for licensing, design, hosting, maintenance, and PCI compliance.

“The TCO [total cost of ownership] from an open source platform can be very costly and tends to be more expensive than the SaaS counterpart,” says Davidson. “You really have to ask yourself if you even need this extra control. In most cases the answer is no.”