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The Integral Aspect of Extensibility

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Finding the Right Solution Unique to Your Business

Extensibility & Your International eCommerce Systems

International eCommerce software heavily demands to be extensible and customizable, which is one of the strong suits for most successful international eCommerce platforms. The system should be architected in a way that allows each of the different regions and countries to have their own specific capabilities and core set of functions. In other words, the ability to customize and match the required functionality to each of the respective locations. When evaluating different international eCommerce platforms, we fundamentally encourage you to seek a solution that offers full source code and training for the current version, along with future versions, of the platform.

This will enable your internal team to leverage the international eCommerce software provider, in the form of a maintenance agreement, updates and ongoing support for any changes or customizations that your internal team might wish to perform. Your team would need internal access to the full source code and all the resources in order to successfully complete this assignment. They would also potentially need access to training materials or an overview with hands-on training, so that they can quickly understand and get up to speed with any customizations or modifications they plan to implement.

Quite commonly, businesses may begin with no internal team or they might have the intention of never forming an internal team for their eCommerce platform. In this scenario, it’s obviously logical to collaborate with an international eCommerce development company that has the capacity to provide ongoing support and customization for the application. The company would also provide the appropriate scaling of resources, whether up or down, on an as-needed basis within the business.

However, a number of international eCommerce establishments actually have internal teams and are simply looking to purchase the software so that they can implement, customize and extend the capabilities themselves. In this case, it makes a lot of sense as well to have robust documentation and resources that are available offline. While access to those resources won’t necessarily require a lot of human interaction, it’s beneficial to have the possibility of direct training and support as needed. Those are operational aspects that we recommend going through and understand about your organization, to guide your selection of the most appropriate provider.

Work With Only The Best

Operational Considerations for Selecting the Ideal Vendor

A primary question to consider is whether your organization plans on always working with a third-party company to provide support and customization. Maybe your team is on the other end of the spectrum, with plans to always perform all of the work internally. Meaning you’re just looking to purchase a well-built and architected software for international eCommerce, but then have maintenance updates and upgrades available for your team to manage and complete. The most typical response is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, where you have some level of ongoing support from your eCommerce software development company, but you also have internal resources that focus on completing certain tasks.

One of the things that we recommend for a well architected platform for international and global eCommerce, is the concept of plugins and being able to extend or override existing functionality. A challenging concept with off -the-shelf international eCommerce software is that in a number of occasions, it's architected in a very specific way. But then perhaps you wish to make adjustments depending on scenarios, countries, regions, or groups of areas. Maybe the business logic needs to adapt in a certain way, or a specific piece of functionality needs to be overwritten just for one occasion.

If the international eCommerce platform is not architected in a way that enables plugins or extensibility, with the ability to extend and override existing functionality, then this may not be possible. You could end up in a position where you're essentially painted into a corner. Therefore, we highly recommend that you ask these questions as you're evaluating your international eCommerce software vendors.

In addition to the ability to extend and modify existing functionality without breaking the underlying software, we also suggest looking at theming and branding. It’s quite useful to be able to customize the styling and presentation of the application with your individual branding without affecting the underlying code. One of the most important prerequisites of being able to override and extend functionality is that the platform is architected in a way that those changes don't break future upgrades and they don't get overwritten whenever a future upgrade is applied.

Incorporating Industry Best Practices

Designing for the Future of International eCommerce

When appraising available solutions, it’s wise to not only evaluate the present needs of your business but to consider future demands as well. The future upgrades may concern maintenance, security or patching, and the architecture of the platform itself must be configured in a way that won’t require a complete -or major- rework of the application every time there's an upgrade. In addition, a common practice for an international eCommerce platform involves scheduled or ongoing tasks that occur, such as data analysis, caching, sending out transactional emails, and just general modifications or updates for indexes and integration. As a result, those tasks would ideally be extendable and allow for additional jobs to be defined as you go along.

If the existing functionality doesn’t meet certain business requirements, the international eCommerce platform needs to support further addition of features. Maybe you need to send a certain type of email to meet legal requirements for a particular region. Perhaps within a specific area, customers experienced issues relating to the quality or grade of an item. You may need to send some form of verification before they complete their purchase, so you can make sure your customers understand exactly what they're buying. Or maybe there's a location-specific holiday or special event and you want to be able to promote your offerings during that particular event.

All of the above are examples of scenarios where you would want the ability to extend the existing platform. In other words, to take the existing data, customize it, and then provide information or complete tasks to make the experience more robust and user friendly. Furthermore, as the scaling of the international eCommerce platform progresses, most businesses will wish to integrate their international eCommerce system with internal:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP)
  • Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM)
  • Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
  • General Line of Business applications (LOB)

The integrations would push and pull data between the international eCommerce system and the internal business systems. So, the question is: does your international eCommerce software, or the software that you're evaluating, offer robust APIs that use the latest technologies like REST? Does it offer the ability to work with older technologies like SOAP, so that your internal team members, regardless of what technology stack they're used to, can still use those APIs?

Moreover, does it have the ability to provide access for reporting, and possibly raw data access for business intelligence platforms, so that they can consume the data and analytics to provide reporting for the business? Does the platform have extensibility and are all of the essential resources available to your team in order to grow and extend the platform to match your business? We ultimately recommend that you dig into a plethora of questions as you're evaluating available international eCommerce software.

How can Clarity Help

Clarity International eCommerce Experts

We would definitely welcome any additional questions your team might have raised as you’re evaluating international eCommerce platforms. Our team of friendly and knowledgeable staff are available for a complimentary review or anything else you’d like to know about the underlying architecture and extensibility of the software. You're also invited to explore the related resources below and discover more information on this topic. If you can’t find an answer to your question in the following resources, feel free to reach out to one of our experts for a timely response to your question. We may also use the reply to enrich our resources and make it available to other visitors as well.

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