Gone are the days when e-commerce was the ugly duckling cousin of flagship stores in flashy shopping malls. In 2020 we would argue it is more often the other way around - the global possibilities of a well defined e-commerce strategy far outshines the prospect of starting up physical stores for most businesses.
Despite this, the actual process of creating a successful e-commerce is still defined by either huge IT investments and long processes or by lightweight SaaS services. This is at a time when we see an ever increasing market demand for e-commerce solutions with a short time to market and reasonable startup budgets, but also for clients who are aware of the enormous role their e-commerce will play in the future and have no interest in wasting their time on low-fat solutions that will soon be outgrown.
The missing link
In this paradox, we saw the need of finding the missing link between the simple and the complex. A truly powerful tool with absolute zero compromises in terms of future possibilities, but with a time to market that is measured in weeks, not months. The result: IGNITE, a custom e-commerce framework based on the robust EPiServer/Optimizely e-commerce platform. The general idea of the framework is that it is a no-compromise solution with all the technical prerequisites that Episerver can offer as well as a truly attractive and modern frontend based on the world’s leading frontend framework React.
The framework also comes pre-prepared with the most sought-after integrations such as the major payment providers, PIM and CRM systems. Because when you are eager to start selling your products online, why would you want to wait for your agency to develop integrations they have already built several times? Having over 400 e-commerce solutions behind us, we know that while most clients (sooner or later) want some sort of custom functionality we also know that the most fundamental functionality almost always looks basically the same.
If you can start your journey without having to spend your budget on pure technical hygiene functionalities you can instead use it to improve other more fun and critical areas such as your customer- and user experience.
Speaking of customer- and user experience, our design team have spent a vast amount of hours studying and evaluating the most common and critical interactions as well as functionality on an e-commerce GUI making sure they are built upon best practice, are well crafted, easy to use and to understand. So when you wish to start customizing, you can be sure you are doing so from an excellent starting point.
The framework also comes with a variety of dynamic blocks and layout possibilities which enables your solution to suit your brand and make it look and feel unique.
- We want to encourage possibilities, not limitations. Therefore, during the design process our focus was to create a really well crafted e-commerce framework, not a template.
Daniel Georgsson, Design Director - Star Republic
Over the years our team at Star Republic, being specialists purely on e-commerce, has built a large number of solutions based on a wide variety of platforms. And while some platforms are good at one specific part of what you need, Episerver stands out as the option where you will have a truly capable tool on the whole platform spectrum. Many platforms feature a powerful transaction engine where the development focus has always been on payments, logistics and stock handling. The strength of Episerver is that it was originally designed as an extremely capable CMS, which offers you endless possibilities to build your brand through cutting edge content types and integrations. On top of that impressive CMS core a very capable transaction engine has been added, second to none. Finally, you can have an e-commerce platform that’s worthy of also taking care of the visual and communicative needs of your brand.
The drawback has, historically speaking, been that starting up your Episerver project has been a time- and budget-consuming process. Because with all those sophisticated options, all projects have started from scratch. And this is where a framework comes in. To be able to focus on value adding features rather than must-haves a framework can supply ready made components and integrations to third party services such as payment providers, marketplaces and shipping systems. A framework with well defined building blocks makes it both faster and easier to get started. Developers are generally more interested in creating new exciting functionality and hate doing the same things over and over, so reusability is key. Happy developer + Happy Client = Success.
- Being built on Episerver, our state of the art eCom platform framework will let you buy a boxed solution without having you confined to it.
Patric Svensson, Chief Technical Officer, Star Republic
Our Ignite framework is highly customizable yet fast to market with the most sought-after functionality ready out of the box."
- A framework such as ours comes with a complete starter site including both backend and frontend meaning that you as a customer can kick start your project faster and focus on value adding features.
Viktor Bergman Talani, Solutions Architect, Star Republic
Once you’ve nailed it - scale it
One of the upsides of not having to spend all of your budget on the basic installation of your platform is that you give yourself the possibility to spend your money on adaptation on the platform, based on the knowledge you will gain from using it. Of course from the editor perspective, but mainly also from your customers. You can start optimizing the customer journey on-site as well as building your audience and traffic sources, both in terms of paid and earned traffic. You can also prove your hypothesis and business idea to a lower degree of risk and cost before you scale up your business.
The risk with scaling up your business without having proven your hypothesis to be valid is that you also scale up your costs without reaching enough revenues and customers. With a framework, thanks to the architecture and frameworks built in, it is easier to dream big, start small and scale fast. Or to put it simple - learning by doing instead of trying to build the optimal platform in one, long, costly IT project. There are, of course, also still upsides to this more traditional, ambitious approach. But a framework like the one described in this article provides Episerver level functionality for those who would otherwise have to settle for a more basic platform. In the end, an approach like this is all about scalability.
Starway to Heaven
So, are you considering Episerver as the basis of your next e-commerce platform? Do you have the feeling of standing at a crossroads, eager to embark on a new eCom journey, but can’t help feeling a bit lost? Are the parameters to consider for your investment ahead totally clear or is there room for further evaluation? Maybe time is of the essence and you feel that it is time to start with a fast, simple - but capable - solution “out of the box” instead of going for a Unicorn right away?
At Star Republic these are questions we tackle together with our customers every day. Our team is used to being a trusted advisor as well as creating and developing e-commerce and digital business solutions in all forms, shapes and sizes with the goal to simplify, improve and enchant. We are happy to share our extensive eCom experience and help you mark out the right path for your eCom site. Please, feel free to reach out to us if you are curious about our Episerver framework called “IGNITE” and wish to have a demonstration for further inspiration.
So, get in touch and get going!
Competence Lead Content & Project Manager
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At Star Republic and Optimizely we believe that creating an ecom with a short time to market and a reasonable budget shouldn't confine you to a box. With the IGNITE framework from Star Republic you will have the full Optimizely/EPiServer experience and still have the money and time left to innovate, customize and create the platform of your dreams.