30. Nov 2023

9 things that show online retailers that they are caught in the technology trap.

Gescher, November 27, 2023. As a rule, successful online retailers are not characterized by the fact that they have implemented the most beautiful store front end. Success in e-commerce is often decided in the backend. A regular evaluation of your own tech stack is therefore helpful in order to automate internal processes as far as possible and to be able to adapt quickly to new trends. The Gescher e-commerce agency SHOPMACHER specializes in finding weak points in existing system architectures and optimizing the tech stack in line with requirements. Managing Director André Roitzsch has summarized nine points by which online retailers can recognize that they may be caught in a technology trap.

1. problematic loading times cannot be significantly improved with common tricks

Slow loading times not only impair the user experience, but can also lead to a loss of sales. Reasons for this can include an outdated server infrastructure, a lack of scalability, poorly optimized database queries or the excessive use of scripts and external resources. Opaque system architectures and unclear dependencies or the lack of a content delivery network exacerbate the problem. To minimize slow loading times, online retailers need to eliminate inefficiencies in the technology stack.

2. updates are time-consuming and cause errors in unexpected places

In an extensive technology stack, complex dependencies between different components can lead to updates to one component having unexpected effects on other parts of the system. In monolithic systems in particular, updating individual components can require extensive adjustments to the overall system. Missing or inadequate test environments mean that updates cannot be thoroughly checked for errors, while unclear system documentation increases the risk of errors in unexpected places. To meet these challenges, it is advisable to design the technology stack in a modular way, maintain comprehensible documentation, implement efficient test concepts and ensure continuous training. A transparent update process also helps to increase the efficiency and error resistance of the system.

3. time-consuming manual processes are required

A lack of integration between different system components can lead to data not being transferred smoothly between different systems and routine tasks such as importing product data not being carried out automatically. Outdated or non-interoperable software components, unclear data models and missing interfaces or format standards can also hinder seamless data integration. A well-designed and integrated tech stack architecture minimizes manual processes by enabling a smooth flow of data and automation.

4. new potentially helpful additions cannot simply be connected

An inflexible IT system architecture often hinders the integration of innovative tools and features because, among other things, there are no standardized interfaces or the existing tech stack is not compatible with new technologies. An API-based architecture facilitates the exchange of data between different systems and provides the technical basis for online retailers to utilize innovative developments quickly enough and defend their competitiveness.

5. various standard components of a monolithic system are deactivated and replaced by external solutions

A reassessment of the system architecture may also be necessary if various standard components in a monolithic system have been deactivated and replaced by external solutions. This can impair the seamless interaction of the internal components, lead to compatibility problems – and ultimately also affect the overall performance and user experience. In such cases, it is often advisable to switch to modular and more flexible structures with standardized interfaces and components that can communicate with each other more efficiently. This not only improves the efficiency of the technology stack, but also reduces dependency on external suppliers.solution providers.

6. lack of scalability for future growth

A non-scalable infrastructure can lead to a decrease in platform performance as visitor numbers increase, resulting in slow loading times and a poor user experience. Bottlenecks can also occur in data processing if the technology stack is not designed to handle a growing volume of transactions and user data. In addition, security risks increase if the technology stack does not have adequate measures in place to protect against new threats that come with the growth of the online presence. Finally, a lack of scalability can also lead to higher operating costs as more and more resources are needed to keep up with increasing traffic and the demands of the growing business.

7. the own software manufacturer announces End of Updates or does not provide patches and updates for existing security gaps

If a manufacturer signals that the software or technology used is no longer being actively developed, online retailers have no choice but to rethink their technology stack. Otherwise, they risk the security and performance of their online store as well as incompatibilities and outdated functionalities.

8. the own software manufacturer slips under the umbrella of a larger manufacturer who buys a 360° offer together

When a major manufacturer purchases a 360-degree range of software, the colorful bouquet of technologies is initially held together by one thing above all: clever marketing. The promise that users will receive everything from a single source often turns out to be unfulfillable in practice. Online retailers who get involved in such “integrated solutions” can run into unexpected problems in practice. At the same time, large suppliers must successively adapt individual components in order to be able to offer truly integrated solutions. This can sometimes lead to a software losing the very assets that were important to the online retailer at the time of purchase. In the worst case, the integration does not work as easily as hoped from the manufacturer’s point of view and the solution is rejected again after a short time. Then nobody knows whether and how the software will continue. It is therefore advisable to minimize the risk of monopolization and keep the technology stack flexible enough to integrate different solutions.

9. the majority of experts for this stack are 45+ years old

A dynamic tech stack requires a diverse team with different experiences and perspectives. Online retailers should therefore look to diversify their team of experts and ensure that there is a mix of experience and fresh expertise to ensure a more agile and forward-thinking tech stack. And: If a system plays practically no role in the training of the next generation, this is an indication that it will no longer play a role overall in the future.

“In many online stores, the system architecture continues to grow over the years until it can hardly be operated any more,” explains Roitzsch. “Many online retailers only react when the pain can no longer be suppressed. An efficient tech stack ultimately improves the profitability of a commerce platform.” Online retailers should therefore critically review their system architecture at regular intervals and modernize it if in doubt. “That may cost more money at first,” says Roitzsch. “But the investments usually pay for themselves quickly.”

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