Learn from Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retailers and eCommerce Experts

EPISODE 350 59 mins

eCommerce Platforming – fireside chat

About the guests

Tim Bucciarelli

Kunle Campbell

Tim is the Senior Manager of Digital Operations at Ironplane, a full-service eCommerce agency specializing in platform design, development, and digital marketing agency. Tim is passionate about helping businesses discover and implement new technologies to drive success and would love to dive into a conversation with you about: How you can make a lasting impact on your market and customers, which technologies you should use to reach your business goals, and how to demonstrate your product quality online.

On today’s episode, Kunle is joined by Tim Bucciarelli, Senior Manager of Digital Operations at IronPlane, a full-service eCommerce agency specializing in platform design, development, and digital marketing agency in general.

What does an eCommerce business need? They need a flawless flow of operations and timely software integrations, meaning that everything must be in tip-top shape. One of the common problems you encounter is with the plugin you bought. It didn’t work on your platform. It’s too time-consuming to scour forums and articles to find a hack for your problem.

Maybe it’s time to re-platform and let IronPlane help you with that. IronPlane, is a globally-minded expert that helps businesses improve and upgrade your eCommerce store and uses the right and current technology to reach your business goals.

In this episode, Kunle and Tim talk about the breakdown of the infrastructure with Adobe Cloud, Magento, and Adobe Commerce. You will get to hear about how certain SaaS platforms may not be the best solutions when it comes to agility and flexibility. This is a great episode for brand owners and business owners thinking about re-platforming.

Here is a summary of some of the most important points made:

  • IronPlane is a great eCommerce agency for brands looking to re-platform their third-party platforms.
  • Magento, Open Source, and Adobe Commerce can be hosted as on-prem if resources aren’t scarce.
  • For B2B, Adobe Commerce gives you more out-of-the-box functionality.
  • Adobe Commerce is both for cloud and non-cloud but it’s Adobe’s control when you’re in the cloud.
  • Companies are slowly decoupling themselves from eCommerce statures to focus on building functionality and letting platforms like Adobe sort out the technical infrastructures.

Covered Topics:

On today’s interview, Kunle and Tim discuss:

  • Tim’s eCommerce Journey
  • IronPlane’s Methods
  • IronPlane as an Adobe Agency
  • Business Platform Preferences
  • The Important Role of Developers
  • SaaS vs PaaS
  • What is Headless Commerce
  • What is PWA
  • The App Ecosystems of Adobe
  • The Future of eCommerce Platforms
  • 2022 Outlook on Retail and Commerce
  • How to Contact Tim


  • 08:20 – Tim’s eCommerce Journey:
    • Starting out as an IronPlane client
    • Working in all manners of eCommerce
    • Transitioning to IronPlane
    • Retail business vs Agency side
  • 11:06- IronPlane’s Methods:
    • The difference between demand generation and lead generation
    • Methods of disseminating value proposition to the broad market
    • How to message and value proposition out
  • 16:31 – IronPlane as an Adobe Agency:
    • Starting out with Magento Open Source
    • Adobe acquiring Magento
    • Paths to be taken when working with Adobe Commerce and Magento
    • How IronPlane works with clients
  • 19:36 – Business Platform Preferences:
    • What fits Magento Open Source
    • Which is for you? Hosting on-prem or outsourcing
    • How Adobe maximizes its resources by using the cloud
    • Cloud ownership cost in Adobe
  • 25:43 – The Important Role of Developers:
    • Why organizations still prefer open-source and self-hosted solutions
    • Hosting companies being flexible to suit a customer’s needs
  • 30:54 – SaaS vs PaaS:
    • Kunle’s thoughts on organizations separating themselves from eCommerce platforms
    • Tim’s takes on the functionality of SaaS eCommerce platforms
  • 36:42 – What is Headless Commerce:
    • Tim’s definition of Headless Commerce
    • The emergence of omnichannel commerce
    • Is Adobe a headless platform?
  • 43:18 – What is PWA:
    • The importance of PWA
  • 45:29 – The App Ecosystems of Adobe:
    • The risks of purchasing plug-ins for platform choice
    • Adobe’s risk-free option of subscription
  • 49:14 – The Future of eCommerce Platforms:
    • Cloud is the future of eCommerce Platforms
  • 55:17- 2022 Outlook on Retail and Commerce:
    • The two trends of eCommerce
  • 57:45- How to Contact Tim


  • Big companies are always going to be doing their own things with big-name technology providers while the small guys are going to be looking for SaaS, ease to use, and intuitive platforms.
  • 94% of BigCommerce’s functional APIs are open for use while Magento’s functional APIs are 100% open for use.
  • If company resources are enough Adobe Commerce and Magento can be hosted on-prem.

Links & Resources:

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When it comes to an eCommerce platform, what would you rather have, speed or flexibility? This episode addresses exactly when you should opt for speed and agility and when flexibility is of utmost importance. It’s a great episode you do not want to miss it.

Welcome to the 2X eCommerce podcast. The 2X eCommerce podcast show is dedicated to digital commerce insights for retail and eCommerce teams. Each week, on this podcast, we interview either a commerce expert, a founder of a digital native commerce brand, or a representative from a best-in-class commerce SaaS product.

We give them a very tight remit to help give you ideas that you can test right away on your brand so that you can improve commerce growth metrics such as conversion, average order value, repeat customers, your audience size, and ultimately, your Gross Merchant Value or sales. We’re here to help you sell more sustainably.

Speaking of which, the episode you’re about to read is an interview I had with Tim Bucciarelli. He is the Senior Manager of Digital Operations at IronPlane, a full-service eCommerce agency specializing in platform design, development, and digital marketing agency in general. They specialize from our conversation predominantly on the Adobe platform, BigCommerce, and a few other platforms but the core is the Adobe platform and BigCommerce enterprise.

With Adobe, we talked about a breakdown of the infrastructure right there right now, which is Adobe Cloud, Magento Open Source, and Adobe Commerce. We’ve talked a lot about migrations, and what you should consider from an agility standpoint and then from a flexibility standpoint. If you’re looking for flexibility, for instance, and checkout in the checkout experience, then certain SaaS platforms may not be the best for you. If you’re looking for agility, then some off-the-shelf SaaS solutions might be ideal for you.

We don’t talk about re-platforming enough in this podcast and that’s because there’s so much in the sphere of marketing, finance, and operations we should be talking about in this podcast. This is a breath of fresh air. You’ll be reading this on a Saturday. It’s a bonus episode for you to get your head around platforming from someone who is deep into the trenches in that space. If you are an eCommerce director or you’re an eCommerce manager, or you’re thinking about re-platforming in general, this episode might be the one for you.

There are specialist podcasts around re-platforming like the Re:platform Podcast hosted by James Gurd, who is a friend of mine. You can check it out but this particular episode speaks to Adobe and BigCommerce versus all the other options out there. He is a well-versed individual in the eCommerce platform. He’s an eCommerce expert in his own right. Enjoy this episode. If you haven’t already, do us a favor and follow us and potentially leave us a review on whatever podcasting platform you listen to the 2X eCommerce podcast from. I shall leave you and I will catch you on the other side. Enjoy this conversation I had with Tim. Cheers.

Tim, welcome to the 2X eCommerce podcast. It’s an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Before we dig right into what we’re about to talk about, I want to know more about you. You’re at IronPlane. Prior to IronPlane, what was what led you into the world of eCommerce as we know it today?

I shifted pretty seamlessly over I was an IronPlane client prior to joining IronPlane. I helped manage an eCommerce business in specialty food where we shipped imported fine foods all over the country. I was in that business for more than sixteen years. I worked in all manner of eCommerce areas, including digital marketing, social media, and a little bit of direct mail, as well as the operation side of the pick, pack, and ship, customer service, and returns management. It was a small business operation with a pretty extensive reach and a dedicated customer base. The transition to IronPlane was natural. For me, I was involved in the technology of our business, as well as in the food and the products. What I like to believe is that I bring a little bit of both perspectives to our current clients at IronPlane.

Would you say you’re much an operations and technology expert?

Yes, I would say those are my two specialties.

You’re doing operations and tech for retail business and for commerce business. You’re now on the agency side. How do both worlds compare? What is the key difference?

When I moved over to the agency side, similarly, it was a smaller agency so I’m comfortable wearing a number of hats in that environment and I love learning new skills, as you do, I know with all of your podcasts and learning each one. My goal is to take the perspective that I learned as an eCommerce manager and inform my interactions with our clients. I do a lot of work with our sales team right now. I also do a lot of work with our internal operations and the technologies that we choose to use to support our business. Also, in client management and account management working with our clients.

Do you want to break down what you do in IronPlane, please?

Sure. For example, I’ve built out the CRM tool and marketing automation tools that we use. It’s called HubSpot. Most of your readers would have heard of it, I’m sure. I also have coordinated our outbound and inbound sales efforts. We have started shifting a little bit more towards the demand generation model, rather than the more traditional lead generation model. There’s a subtle distinction, but it’s an important one. That’s one thing that I’m working on right now with our department.

What’s the main difference between demand generation and lead generation?

You think of a lead as a lead. It’s a single entity that comes to you and you can hope for the best, you dial by numbers and with a huge volume, you generate a lot of leads, but it doesn’t capture the qualitative element, whether they have any intent. All you’re thinking about is top of funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom funnel, and you’re pushing them through and hoping for the best.

There’s a lot of skill there as well but demand generation is working to create value for a broad audience and essentially what it feels to me is you’re trusting in the value of what you are offering that people who, at the right time and in the right space, will reach out to you. Demand generation is getting your brand, your name out there, and the value proposition out there to a broad audience and being as open as you can and available as you can to people who might have some interest in what you do.

There are parallels to be drawn in the B2C world, even B2B eCommerce. From a value proposition, what are the most efficient methods of disseminating your value proposition to the broad market without breaking the bank?

The first obvious path is your existing customers. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, your existing customers are an invaluable resource for both advisories. How can you make what you’re offering better, but also recurring purchases? Whether it’s a subscription or whether it’s a recurring purchase they need to renew every year, your existing customer base should be your first step. That’s the least expensive way for you to go about getting new sales and getting input from them in terms of how you can improve. Beyond that, for us in the B2B space, it’s a lot of speaking to people, networking at conferences, it’s also being on podcasts like your podcast, and also starting to generate a lot of our own content on our YouTube channel. We will be launching our own podcast.

Speed is one of the primary reasons that you want to be looking at PWA. Click to Tweet

To me, it sounds like it’s this convergence of content, events, and networking in a way where you create a community, virtual or in person from that wide market reach with your value proposition.

In saying it belies the challenge because this is essentially what many different companies are trying to do now so the field is full of people doing podcasts, webinars, and video content on YouTube or Vimeo. How can you get your message and your value proposition out? That’s an ongoing challenge. We like to think that we live in a sweet spot as an agency of size where our level of service is much greater than you would find in other larger agencies. That’s the way we like to think about it. Similarly, focusing on the quality of the development work where we don’t have huge numbers of clients, and for every client that we do have, we deliver extremely high quality.

This building in public approach, both from an eCommerce and a B2B standpoint seems to be delivering returns from a brand reach perspective. That’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about what you guys do in IronPlane. You’re an Adobe agency. Do you want to break down what your agency does, please?

We are an Adobe partner and we started out building Magento websites on the Magento Open Source platform, which is all that existed when it first started. Since then, the Magento platform was purchased by eBay and then eventually Adobe in 2014. Adobe has done a great deal to improve the platform. They moved it from version 1 onto version 2 now and subsequently, they’re now shifting it to become a little bit more integrated with their experience platform. Magento has become what is now called Adobe Commerce.

There are three different paths that you can take if you want to work within the Adobe Commerce world, or Magento world. One is Magento Open Source. One is Adobe Commerce, and one is Adobe Commerce Cloud. The Cloud means that it’s basically Adobe hosting your Adobe Commerce site. Open Source is where you have a lot more flexibility to build it as you need and Adobe other than being the platform provider may or may not be involved in what you’re doing day-to-day. A lot of our clients are on the Open Source platform. We have several right now on the cloud platform as well and several also on the commerce platform.

We focus on designing and developing Magento or Adobe Commerce websites and we’ve also been focused on migrations. If clients are coming to us and they’re on a different platform and they want to migrate over to Magento, we help them migrate that existing data and that existing eCommerce experience over to the Magento platform.

Further, we also work with our clients to optimize if they are currently on Magento but maybe they have a partner who has decided to no longer support them or they chose that they’re not the best quality service then they come to us and we can help them through what we call Magento Rescue. We take it over and we can help them optimize their Magento eCommerce platform.

Magento Open Source is Magento, where you have the source code, and then you build. It’s self-hosted. Is that right?


What sorts of businesses prefer to go open source? What happened to Magento Enterprise?

That’s now Adobe Commerce. The Enterprise Edition, the EE, is now Adobe Commerce.

What eCommerce operations tend to embrace the Open Source platform?

It’s interesting because you would sometimes think that Adobe commerce platform is a step up. Maybe Adobe has built-in more sophisticated functionality out of the box on the Adobe Commerce platform. You might think Magento Open Source is maybe the older or less functional version but a lot of enterprise businesses who want total control over their eCommerce want to own all of their code. They want complete control over the hosting environment as well.

Magento Open Source is a great candidate for those companies because then they have complete control from start to finish in their eCommerce platform. Adobe Commerce is not too far different. It’s still quite customizable but you are paying Adobe for a license fee to take the benefit of the additional functionality that’s built into the commerce portion.

To clarify, with the Magento Open Source and with Adobe commerce, you’re hosting it yourself.

For both of those platforms, you can either host it on-prem in your own facility, if you have the resources to do that or you can outsource the hosting to any number of hosting companies. There are several companies that specialize in the Magento platform and who provide great quality service. Yes, it is hosted. The hosting itself can be cloud hosting or virtual hosting. That’s popular with AWS, Google, or Azure. Or it could be on, a shared server or a dedicated server, an actual piece of hardware. The hosting can vary quite a bit but the idea, as you said, is exactly right. Both Adobe Commerce and Magento Open Source are hosted platforms.

Is Adobe Cloud an entry-level product?

No. It’s the top-level.

It’s the cream of the top.

It depends on how connected you want to be with Adobe, essentially. Adobe Commerce gives you more out-of-the-box functionality, especially in regards to B2B and the latest technology that Adobe has crafted into the Adobe Commerce platform.

Into the cloud.

Adobe Commerce in general, both cloud and non-cloud, but the cloud puts it more on Adobe’s control to support you because then they are hosting it for you. That becomes a little bit more of this idea of a one-stop-shop where you’re working with Adobe who is providing you with the technology to support your eCommerce operations through the platform and then also, they’re hosting it. If you have any questions, if you have any needs, you can go to Adobe and they will deal with them for you. However, it’s important to recognize that most of the time you still need an agency that can go in there and do the customizations for you and do all the work that Adobe doesn’t want to do.

What’s the cost of ownership with the cloud?

First of all, as with anything that’s published anywhere, you go and talk to the company themselves. They give you a quote that is specific to your company’s needs and sometimes they’ll be willing to give you quite a deal. Sometimes it’s rack rates but generally, from what I know, with Adobe Commerce, you pay a monthly subscription fee. Let’s say it’s around $2,000. If you’re also being hosted in their cloud environment, it could be an additional $1,000 or $2,000 on top of that per month.

That’s not too bad. It begs the question, with the rise of cloud-based eCommerce hosting solutions here and there, some are public and some are about to go public, why is there still a need for on-prem solutions like Magento Open Source or even non-Adobe hosted Adobe Commerce platform? I still have access to some Magento stores that have crashed as a result of the unprecedented demands of traffic. You need a developer to support self-hosted solutions. Why are organizations still embracing open source and self-hosted solutions? Is it a thing that’s going in? Is a cloud or SaaS the way forward?

I would split it out a little bit into three categories. One category is the open source and maybe put that off to the side for a moment. Regarding hosting, it is extremely rare for a company to choose to do their own hosting. It’s become very rare these days and for good reason. The availability, scalability, and redundancy of cloud hosted environments have come so far over the past years.

The market was hungry for SaaS eCommerce and the market has responded. Click to Tweet

I suspect that there still are companies who want control but those companies who are doing the on-premise hosting themselves have a number of resources to manage it. It’s not just one developer, it’s a team of database architects and network security people. These are larger companies who, for whatever reason, whether it’s privacy or security or want their own control over their own platform. I’m a little bit hypothesizing because it’s so rare these days that anyone wants to take that on themselves.

The next one is the hosting where you’re giving it off to someone else. You’ve got a variety of hosting options there and most of them are going to be offering you, as you scale up, a great deal of scalability, reliability, and redundancy. You have an à la carte menu with many of the main companies to choose what you want in terms of availability, scalability, reliability, backups, and security all of which, are pretty affordable these days when you look at AWS, for example, and the pricing that AWS is offering for their hosting.

What are your thoughts on SaaS eCommerce platforms versus PaaS or platform as a service eCommerce platform? Where do you see the future? I’ll give you my perspective. A lot of organizations are starting to rethink technology. We’re talking about quite significant organizations. They’re starting to embrace decoupling themselves from eCommerce infrastructure as much as possible and focusing on the build, the functionality, and letting eCommerce platforms such as Adobe, Shopify, or what have you, sort out all of the technical infrastructures. That releases resources for them to focus more on marketing and customer experience essentially rather than having to try and manage infrastructure. Do you see this being the direction the entire industry is going or does this apply to certain eCommerce or retail organizations that have specific needs?

My perspective is the market was hungry for SaaS eCommerce and the market has responded. It’s exactly as you described. Many companies don’t want to invest a great deal of time, money, and effort into the infrastructure. They want a tool that works consistently so that they can focus on their marketing, on their product, and on their customers. That’s why you have the success of Shopify and you’ve got BigCommerce stepping in but there are several other big players in the SaaS space.

I jokingly think of SaaS platforms like the Kraft Mac & Cheese we have in the US. It’s a box so you can have your dinner and you have this simple box of food. You can maybe add a few little add-ins later like some broccoli or some ground beef or something but it’s still essentially this box of food that someone prepared for you that you’re making because it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s affordable. That’s SaaS-based technology like Shopify and then you’ve got something that’s a little bit more open and allows you to have a little bit more customizability. That’s the BigCommerce platform.

You can think of that like Blue Apron in the US for example, which is a brand that sends you a box of food ingredients and recipes. You have a little bit more creativity in what you can produce but you’re still working within this defined space. You’ve got the world of Magento. With Magento, you’re going out, you’re shopping, and you’re finding your own ingredients. You’re finding that you have to have the skill or you have to hire a skilled catering company to prepare a custom meal based on what you want. It can take some more time, but the results can be much more satisfactory.

All of those have valued space in the market, both for consumers who love food, but also in the space of eCommerce. If you think about it, the SaaS platforms like Shopify are wonderful. They can be affordable for smaller businesses, they can satisfy all their needs easily, they’re intuitive to use and they’re rapidly advancing with new technologies all the time. It’s similar to BigCommerce. What it comes down to for an individual company is taking an honest look at what is the likely total cost of ownership. It’s not a slam dunk that Shopify and BigCommerce will be less expensive than Magento. Not at all.

If you have revenues over $5 million to $10 million a year looking at Shopify Pro or Shopify Plus, you’re going to be doing some pretty serious calculations to see where other platforms might fall. That being said, Magento requires the support of an agency. Magento Open Source has no license fee. You don’t pay a monthly fee, but you likely need to pay a partner agency for all of your development work. It’s a different bucket of cost but when you put it all together, you can see based on your business where your total cost of ownership will be over 5 or 6 years. That’s probably the single most calculation a company should do beyond looking at the functionality of an eCommerce platform.

There’s exactly what you want to do and the experience you want to deliver which brings me to the topic of headless commerce. Do you want to break down and give a definition of headless commerce for readers who are not too familiar with the term, please?

From what I understand, the idea is that you have a front layer that is independent of many different operations or what are called microservices. You connect everything via APIs so you are able to use whatever platforms you choose but the top layer stays constant. If you are connecting to, let’s say five different platforms, you’ve got your eCommerce platform, your CRM platform, PIM, ERP and they’re all connected to that top layer via API, these microservices, you can more easily swap in and swap out. As long as you can adjust those API connectors with your top layer and your top layer will stay the same.

It’s not like you can necessarily have to re-platform everything. It’s much more component-based which gives you much more flexibility. There’s also a little bit of confusion between the idea of PWA and headless. I view them as two pretty separate things but they’re both topics that have been pretty hot topics.

With the emergence of omnichannel commerce where people or shoppers essentially channel less in the sense that they could view a YouTube video or eventually purchase via Instagram. They’re happy to use display kiosks and in-store self-serve. You have this commerce engine on the back end that’s serving all these new channels. Essentially, you have that head. You’re serving commerce through various front ends. Whether it’s a mobile app, your website, a display kiosk at an exhibition, or even in-store, it’s all there, which poses a lot of opportunities. Does Adobe support headless? Is it a headless platform?

The beauty of Magento is it’s got its APIs available rather than being a closed system. Could you do Shopify in a headless scenario? Probably, but you’re probably limited in what you can do functionally. Shopify chooses what functions they want to give you and they’ll hide a lot of the other ones. BigCommerce is saying that 94% of its functional APIs are exposed or open for use, which is impressive. Magento, it’s fair to say, is 100% so you can get in and make use of all of the different Magento functions through their APIs. I would say that it’s a great candidate for headless.

It’s a real modular platform in the full sense, which enables headless.

The core of what it would be doing for you is eCommerce. You wouldn’t choose Magento to be your CMS, for example. You could, but it would be a secondary function to the eCommerce function. The costs of going headless have come down in the past few years. You’re going to have to do that calculation for the total cost of ownership because there is a fair bit of development work on the front end.

It’s ongoing so you will need a dedicated front-end developer for your app and for your web all the time and any new platform you bring. It’s adapting to where your customers are shopping and how they shop.

That’s a challenge that we’ve met several times when the client may not fully understand that it’s not a one-and-done operation when you build an eCommerce website. With the amount of resources that you put into getting it done in the first place, you will probably need to plan to spend maybe half as much every single year to keep it up and running and optimize it. Otherwise, look at a SaaS platform where you’ll have it more baked in and ready to use.

I was at a virtual conference in November of 2021 and the consensus there was to start out with a SaaS skill and see how far you go. If you want to start to get more custom functionality, say you’re starting to go omnichannel, you start to open retail stores, that may be a time to start to think about re-platforming. You’re expanding your channels to adjust to the way customers shop. You did mention PWA, which is Progressive Web Applications. What are the benefits? Do you want to give a brief definition on why people should be thinking about PWA?

Oftentimes, it sits in between two worlds. One is when you think of a website and you think of that website is responsive, what that means is that the website will scale whether you’re on a desktop monitor, on your tablet, or on your phone. You can mimic this by taking your browser and shrinking it down. You’ll see if the website adjusts and it turns the full menu into a hamburger menu. That’s an indication that it’s a responsive website.

On the other side is the app. There are applications that are dedicated to a particular brand to a particular website. You open that up and you have to download it. It operates on your phone, whether you’re connected to the internet or not. There are some functions that that app can do within your phone whether you’re connected.

PWA lives somewhere in the middle, where it still can be downloaded and it allows you to have some offline intractability like an application does, but it also allows you to access this through a browser. You don’t have to have a dedicated app on your phone. It’s still browser-based but it allows you to do some functionality even when you’re not online. That’s not a particularly great explanation but hopefully, it gives you some idea of why PWA is important.

With the sophistication of browsers that offload functionality, that preloader functionality gives you a lot more app-like features.

Speed is one of the primary reasons that you want to be looking at PWA.

The Cloud means that it's basically Adobe hosting your Adobe Commerce site. Click to Tweet

Which is good for SEO and user experience. I didn’t ask you about the app ecosystem in Adobe. Adobe is a top gainer eCommerce platform. No doubt about it. It’s robust. What does the ecosystem look like? Back in the days with Magento, you had these plugins. You go to the marketplace and you purchase them outright. The idea of subscriptions was not yet established. You buy these solutions and then you install them on your Magento. You hope and pray. If it doesn’t work, you start to hack it. You sought out the issue probably in collaboration with the developers. What does it look like now, particularly with the cloud in that ecosystem?

You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly what you would do. You would hope and pray that the extensions that you selected work with your existing platforms. It’s gotten a lot better but as you say it, it has migrated from this one-time fee of, “Here’s our extension,” they’re also called modules to subscription-based. Everyone wants recurring revenue but it also allows the developer to provide ongoing services and upgrades to the extension. You wouldn’t have to worry too much about whether it would break on the next update because you’re keeping it up to date as Adobe continues to upgrade the version from 2.2 to 2.3 to 2.4.

In theory, if the developer is staying on top of it, their extension will go along with Adobe’s migration. What’s interesting is Adobe itself is going to be starting to develop additional functionalities for the Adobe commerce platform but they are going to create them as subscribable subscriptions for that functionality for your eCommerce platform.

While it’s not technically going to be a SaaS platform, a lot of the functions that you can add to your Adobe Commerce platform will be SaaS add-ons. It’s an interesting shift. It’s definitely the way that it’s going because it allows those functions to be continuously updated on your behalf rather than having to download the latest, having to upload it to your site, and hope that it doesn’t break on the next update.

We could go on and on but to wrap up, I’d like your take on two things. First, we started out with these monolith eCommerce platforms that were a lot of the time, self-hosted or on-premise hosted however we like. There’s been this rapid evolution or migration to the cloud. We’re also seeing some organizations cutting back from the cloud and saying, “These particular modules within our eCommerce infrastructure have to be on-premise due to security.” What are your thoughts on the future in regard to where eCommerce platforms and technology will go? With the future of eCommerce platforms, would it continue to be in the cloud? Do you think it would come back on-premised, self-hosted, or somewhere in between?

It’s going to be more and more in the cloud. That is going to become the most affordable environment and it’s going to be interesting to see. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience but even in the past few years, I’ve been surprised to see that Facebook or Instagram went down for a day. AWS websites in a particular region of the country went down. There are risks. It’s going to be a balancing out. Nothing is perfect but on balance, the cloud environment offers the greatest value, availability, and scalability. That is going to be where the hosting world is going more and more over the next few years.

What about apps? With Adobe’s latest innovation on SaaS apps that are continuously updated, that will be the future of services. These are almost microservices in that sense.

Part of me wants to react to that and say, “No. I want to own my record.” “I want to own my music.” “I want to own my eCommerce code.” I see that more and more companies are willing to give that away in the interest of ease of use and allow a centralized company to manage the technology for them. I honestly don’t know. There is a great deal of value in owning your own eCommerce experience that you’re providing to your customers but unfortunately, it will be coming with a higher price over the next few years especially as these SaaS platforms become more sophisticated.

What you’re going to see is this middle space evolving into this headless idea, these APIs, and those interconnections between marketplaces and channels. That messy middle is going to be interesting to watch. Enterprise-scale like the big companies are always going to be doing their own things with big-name technology providers. Small guys are always going to be looking for SaaS, ease of use, and intuitive platforms. It’s the messy middle that is going to be the most interesting to watch over the next couple of years.

Agility is the name of the game regardless from an enterprise value standpoint. COVID happened and the most agile retailers were able to do curbside pickups. They were able to activate eCommerce and get people to pick up in-store. They were able to adjust their kiosk ordering, click and collects, and all of that stuff. At the lower end of the scale, there were supply chain issues, but their websites were available on SaaS. It’s been there.

That convenience is being able to flip on the switch and say, “I can do office right now,” or, “I can do a new shipper right now in EE.” That’s where the SaaS platforms, apps, and their modules, the ease of use of getting that functionality so quickly is agile.

It depends on what your operational capabilities are because technology should serve operations. If your strategy and your operation dictate that it’s same-day delivery, then the technology should support that in every respect, whether it’s a front end or the last mile tech. On a final note, we’re in 2022. This interview is on the 29th of March, 2022. The last time I checked, inflation rates were 6% to 8% both in the US and the UK. There’s a war of the moment. There are still supply chain constraints. Sea shipping is at an all-time high. I heard about those interventions by the federal government in the United States to curb the high shipping rates. I don’t know whether anything was done. What’s your outlook for commerce and retail in 2022?

I have to put the shipping challenges a little bit aside because that is so complex, global in scope, and interdependent on so many different governments and companies. That’s exceptionally complex. Assuming that that gets ironed out, eCommerce is going to get bigger. What I see are two interesting trends. One is the commoditization of the customer and of products, but also for greater personalization. It doesn’t seem to make sense but the personalization is coming through AI and more of these automated marketing tools rather than qualitative, deep knowledge of your customer.

I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing. That is a trend that’s going to continue because there is a great deal of efficiency that can be found there. On the flip side, you’re going to find consumers who are tired of that commodification. They’re going to be looking for the most unique offerings that they can find that aren’t these big brands, Kickstarter companies, Etsy artisans, or these direct-to-consumer startups. The market is more democratized. The mainstream will likely go in that more of a commoditized vein but there’s this interesting space for small artisans and creators to capture a unique audience for themselves all through eCommerce.

It’s a great leveler and enabler. These past few years have been a testament to it. Tim, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the 2X eCommerce podcast show. For readers who want to find out more about IronPlane, your website is IronPlane.com. Are you active on social media platforms? We’re connected on LinkedIn.

We are. I’m on LinkedIn. IronPlane.com/Tim has a little card about me because my last name is a little bit of a challenge to spell. You can find me on LinkedIn as well.

It’s a pleasure having you on the 2X eCommerce podcast show. Thank you.

Likewise, Kunle. Thank you very much.

About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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