The way enterprise companies buy software has changed considerably, even in just the past few years. In the older days of eCommerce, B2B companies had few options other than on-premise platforms for setting up their eCommerce experiences. And while many businesses still take this approach, many more are branching out into the world of hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS) eCommerce and its associated benefits.
If you’re weighing the advantages of an on-premise versus a hosted eCommerce solution, let’s look at the SaaS environment in more detail and review a few key benefits.
One of the best things about the SaaS environment is that all security patches, upgrades, and updates are handled entirely by the service provider. It’s a low maintenance way to ensure that your eCommerce ecosystem is up-to-date on all fronts, especially when compared with on-premise solutions, which often require a fair amount of hands-on management from an outside vendor or IT team to keep fresh.
This benefit might surprise those who still believe the outdated notions that the SaaS environment is less safe than on-premise architecture. While cloud security is a worthwhile concern, the SaaS world has evolved to the point where managed security isn’t a sticking point—it’s a point of competitive advantage.
In essence, the SaaS environment allows B2B providers to own version-less software managed by an experienced team who knows it inside and out. This is a great thing when it comes to application security, but it also ensures that the system will be continually monitored for any irregularities or problems. In other words, it’s a system that takes the hassle out of security management and gives peace of mind to business owners.
SaaS providers handle all security patches, updates, and system upgrades on your behalf.
SaaS providers boost system security by letting an expert team host your platform.
Ongoing SaaS monitoring protects business performance with little effort on your end.
No B2B eCommerce engine lives in a silo. Even small operations have numerous integrations to consider across enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting, point of sale (POS), and back-office systems. Each of these integrations has a specific function to fill, and each needs to coordinate with one another to keep the eCommerce engine running.
While it’s true that traditional on-premise solutions offer system flexibility that many SaaS providers couldn’t previously match, the reality is that “anything and everything” customization often does more harm than good. New companies get caught up in creating their eCommerce experiences with various integrations and supplementary platforms, often at great cost and with little underlying strategy behind it.
Generally speaking, this isn’t what B2B companies need. It’s not about having as many options as possible – it’s about having the right options available and working together in the system.
To illustrate, consider the advantages that SaaS eCommerce platforms have always offered over traditional systems: ease of setup, simple billing, and common, easily-extendable technologies. The benefits are there, but their limitations have remained consistent over the years as well. Primarily, a lack of business-specific personalization or creative build options that let companies sell exactly the way they want.
Looking at the modern landscape of hosted eCommerce, it’s clear that times have changed. Headless eCommerce platforms provide the advantages of the SaaS environment while giving users more freedom to build on top of the platform. Companies will have an easier time creating unique designs, integrating custom modules, and bringing in new applications that expand their ability to sell – all alongside the stability and security of a hosted eCommerce solution. It’s not about building as big of a system as possible, but rather looking at your company and figuring out which specific eCommerce functions will help you sell to your market. That’s what headless commerce offers.
Every B2B company has multiple eCommerce integrations to coordinate.
More and more customization can cause more problems than it solves—especially where custom-built apps are concerned.
SaaS eCommerce provides a stable codebase to build from and supports a cohesive network of integrations in the eCommerce ecosystem.
Headless commerce platforms offer a core platform framework for scaling infrastructure and expanding marketing flexibility, letting teams create storefronts and commerce applications exactly as they like.
There’s one area where SaaS eCommerce blows on-premise solutions out of the water, and that’s scalability.
The flexible nature of hosted eCommerce means that a company’s hosting, traffic, and data management needs can be scaled up or down as needed, with commensurate adjustments in price to go with it. In the simplest terms, this means that businesses with hosted SaaS will have the agility to meet new business opportunities as they arise. This may involve supporting different methods of managing the buyer’s experience, including bringing in new ways to make calls, handle credit transactions, or generate invoices for clients.
This is particularly valuable for B2B vendors who experience seasonal shifts in demand or other “peak-oriented” sales processes.
Conversely, companies with on-premise architecture will have few options for adjusting their infrastructure. On-premise architecture is slow to add in new integrations, and once they’re in, it can be time-consuming to remove them in a way that doesn’t disrupt other functions. It’s not an inherently bad system, but it is an inflexible one when stacked up against the modern SaaS ecosystem.
SaaS eCommerce offers system flexibility that on-premise solutions can’t match.
SaaS flexibility helps B2B vendors scale operations and better respond to fluctuating business opportunities.
Long-term, this scalability helps a business stay agile and adaptable as it outgrows its current systems.
The traditional way of thinking about eCommerce for B2B companies provided only two options. The first was to layer a big, expensive platform on top of an existing back-office software product. Second, was a hosted platform that removed the restrictions around a direct integration with a back-office product, but didn’t offer much in terms of customization, integration or design flexibility. Now, with B2B buyers expecting more from their purchasing experiences, the pressure is on marketing teams to deliver more. SaaS eCommerce platforms (headless commerce platforms, specifically) allow companies to deploy new sales and marketing strategies faster, more easily, and with less ongoing maintenance than would be required through an on-premise build. It’s not a new idea—but it is an effective one that’s worth exploring for B2B businesses of any size.