In the summer of 1998 you could hardly go anywhere without hearing the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic. The song conjures up a mental image of a group of smiling happy people who not long ago entered a bar excited and ready for a good night ahead. They had enjoyed a few drinks, some great music and a few laughs with friends but now it was the wee hours of the morning and an evening of good times is brought to a close when the bartender shouts out “Last call!” and turns up the house lights. The night had run it’s course and now things were winding down. One of the song’s more memorable lyrics further quotes the bartender as saying “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
A situation that online retailers face more frequently than you may think.
Cha Cha Cha Changes
Change is an inevitable fact of life especially in an industry like ecommerce that’s evolving so rapidly. It happens to the best of us, and when it does, it can be considerably harder to come to terms with if the path you’re on or the tools you’ve been using have previously lead you to success. But when your old trusty iPhone doesn’t support the latest iOS update or the software you’re using to run your business has been “sunset” by its developers, you have to react.
That said, the name of the game in commerce is to get in front of scenarios like this by being proactive rather than merely reacting. Momentum and market share depend on it.
The Karma Chameleon of Commerce
Let’s look at this immutable fact of life through the lens of an ecommerce merchant. As an online retailer you live on a planet where tectonic plates of your industry are shifting below your feet on what feels like a weekly basis. New platforms emerge and new communications channel are born all of the time. It’s a constant and furious evolution.
In an effort to maintain growth and marketshare merchants of all sizes are tasked not only with finding and taking advantage of the right platforms for their businesses but also with the decision of when to migrate to new platforms as the landscape evolves around them. A responsibility that, without exaggerating, could quite literally make or break an online retailer
It’s the End of the World As We Know It
As we look ahead to the Fall of 2018, a large number of merchants will be faced with an important decision to make. The popular ecommerce platform Magento will be sunsetting its 1.x products and end support for 1.x versions of their software.
There will be no new upgrades. No new patch fixes being released to address known security vulnerabilities. And no one there to pick up the phone when the sky begins to fall. The platform is going the way of the Buffalo but you still need to live off the land. Said differently, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
Change can be great. Not long ago we all used to buy records and CDs that held our music. Now we keep thousands of songs in our pockets on a device that we can basically run our lives from, not to mention listen to music on. Despite a certain amount of romantic nostalgia for days gone by, change has been largely positive in the world of technology.
When the first version of Magento was released nearly ten years ago it was during a time when standing up a feature-rich ecommerce store capable of scaling to meet heavy traffic demands came at a considerable cost. Magento was a breath of fresh air offering a platform with powerful features at a far more approachable price point.
Since then emerging ecommerce platforms have made huge strides forward by investing heavily into cloud-based infrastructure and directly addressing the primary concerns of merchants facing the 1.x delema. “On premise’ platforms like Magento 1.x require merchants to incur a variety of fees outside the cost of licensing from various vendors (i.e., hosting fees, upgrade costs, investments into security patch fixes, etc.). A cocktail for confusion and finger pointing.
By contrast, new cloud-based platforms like Shopify Plus are able to offer merchants a robust feature set for both marketing and merchandising while also providing an uptime SLA of 99.99% and a scalable infrastructure during peak traffic spikes--all for one fee. No additional carrying costs. No ad hoc bills for product upgrades or patch fixes. And no third party hosting bills to account for.
The future is bright. We’re optimistic. We’re also freshly reminded of another lyric from the aforementioned Semisonic tune, ”Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”