What do soup and hockey apparel have in common, other than being best on a cold day? The biggest companies selling either also share a need to reach plenty of people — across an array of digital channels and in various ways — whether they’re selling Campbell’s 30-minutes-or-less cookbooks or 2018 Olympics sweatshirts.
Even those smaller businesses that haven’t yet reached retail giant heights, but aspire to, face a whole mountain range of payment complexity hurdles to overcome along the way. That’s where eCommerce platforms are prepared to step in, take up the metaphorical hiking pack and help shoulder the weight so the trek onward and upward doesn’t feel quite so hard.
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Ed Sturrock, CEO and co-founder of eCommerce platform AmeriCommerce, explained how the company’s offering works to support a variety of businesses — from Campbell’s to USA Hockey — and helps them get paid in the process.
Regardless of industry, when it comes to eCommerce platforms supporting large B2B and B2C firms to get out ahead, Sturrock’s two guiding words are “power” and “flexibility.”
“[For B2C], we say, you know what you need?” he said. “You need power. You need flexibility. You need rules-based pricing, multiple storefronts. All these powerful features that allow you to compete on a pricing level with [companies] like Amazon,” he said. “[And] whenever you think B2B, they need complete and ultimately flexibility.”
Playing the pricing games
In a world of retail ruled by Amazon, wholesalers have found that a laser focus on carefully and complexly crafted pricing is critical, Sturrock said.
“It’s a race to compete against pricing and it’s a margins game,” he noted. “What they have to do is tweak their pricing. They have to have quantity-based pricing, customer-type pricing [and more].”
Accomplishing that means an eCommerce platform must have the power to support a vast array of pricing and payment acceptance modes. Sturrock’s has tried to meet that need by supporting more than 60 payment types, from PayPal to pay-by-gift-certificate and custom methods, too.
Simply collecting a payment isn’t enough, though. Modern consumers expect — even demand — other value-added features to help them get more bang for their eCommerce buck.
“Different kinds of wholesalers price by volume, [or] give rewards points,” Sturrock explained. “They have to do all kinds of interesting things, as well as take payments 100 different ways.”
Many merchants who get bit by the entrepreneurial bug don’t want to stay committed to one lane, customer base or set of goods. That often means opening multiple storefronts serving multiple customer bases, all with varying needs.
“When we think about a merchant being an entrepreneur at heart — and most merchants are, [because] that’s how they got started — a lot of times they don’t think in singular brand, singular product [or] singular market,” Sturrock said. “A lot of times, they aspire to more.”
As such, any retailer’s eCommerce weapon of choice must provide the flexibility that enables it to sell some of the same goods on several different storefronts, with language crafted to meet each storefront’s niche.
For example, an AmeriCommerce company white paper posits that an entrepreneur that starts out selling indoor tabletop games may find down the road she wants to expand to outdoor games as well. Expansion doesn’t mean just slapping a new class of products on the website and hoping the original search engine optimization (SEO) setup nets enough overlapping interests, though.
Instead, it might mean establishing a whole new virtual storefront to get the outdoor game products in front of the crowd that wants them most, while letting all the SEO settings that were working so well for indoor games initially stand untouched. Competitive marketing may also mean pricing the outdoor goods lower on the outdoor games-only site — which must compete against similar sites — while pricing them at premium when they’re offered as ancillary products on the indoor games site.
Finding success with flexibility
Flexibility is key for any platform with ambitions of serving a variety of industries or mid- to large-sized clients, Sturrock said. Even within similar industries, businesses’ needs diverge as they grow. Many develop their own custom processes around the time they pass the $50,000 per year mark, and the platform must stay responsive to satisfy different company demands.
“We strive to give merchants the ability to morph our product around a business, instead of changing a business to t a product they’ve purchased,” Sturrock said.
If all goes well, that flexibility and responsiveness pays off in the continued relevance of a platform’s offering.
“We believe that if we’re able to say ‘yes’ to merchants’ complex needs, they’ll tell us where they want us to be,” he added.
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