When the term outsourcing is introduced into the eCommerce conversation, the first reaction may be to envision the complete surrender of all power and decision-making to a third-party provider. This scares off some entrepreneurs because they do not want to totally relinquish custody of their eCommerce environment. In fact, though, outsourcing can have a much narrower scope, as this definition from Entrepreneur Magazine suggests:
Outsourcing is “the practice of having certain job functions done outside a company instead of having an in-house department or employee handle them…”
That means that you can outsource some of your eCommerce work; as much or as little as you want. But why would you want to? Perhaps these reasons will make you think twice:
- Disjointed Focus. If you are doing your entire eCommerce effort in-house, you are very likely not staying focused on running your core business. Like it or not, the problems that your IT staff encounters will no doubt bleed over to you. And do you really possess the expertise to run the technical side of an eCommerce operation? And, even if you do, will it get in the way of your efforts to run the other aspects of your business?
- Expense. Even if you are fortunate enough to have the capital and resources required to establish and maintain an eCommerce Department, the question must be asked: is this an optimal way to allocate resources? If the job can be done just as well and for a lot less money and administrative effort, doesn’t outsourcing make eminent sense? And, remember, capital allocation is a zero-sum game, meaning the more you allocate to eCommerce, the less capital you have to allocate to other aspects of your business, and vice versa. Having control over your eCommerce budget and getting the most bang for your buck is an essential component of resource and capital allocation.
- Compliance. This could require a department in and of itself. Regulations are always changing, mostly around the issue of taxes, privacy and data custody. It may be tough for your in-house staff to keep up and falling out of compliance can derail your business. A third party, if chosen wisely, will have the expertise and tools to make sure you comply with all of the regulations that can make or break your enterprise.
- Innovation. Can you really expect an in-house staff to innovate? Most of the time, they’re scrambling just to fix bugs and remediate downtime issues; not to mention security (our next point). They also may be tied to the systems they know and are comfortable with, especially if those systems were developed in-house and are unique to your organization. They may be blinded by their comfort with the old engine and the need to keep it running when in fact a new and better engine is available.
- Security. Like compliance, security plays a definitive role in whether or not your eCommerce effort will be successful. Small and mid-sized businesses are a relatively new target for hackers, but it’s estimated that as many as 50% of the attempted cyber intrusions are now targeted toward SMBs. And, fully 60% of the victims of a successful cyber attack are out of business within six months, according to The United States National Security Alliance. Not to cast aspersions, but can you really trust your in-house staff to be up on all of the latest security issues? When you consider that the massive Equifax hack of 2017 could have been prevented had their in-house IT staff not neglected to implement software security updates, you have to ask yourself if it’s really prudent to trust your data security to your own IT staff.
- Keeping pace with marketing trends. Having an eCommerce store and waiting for consumers to find and buy from you won’t work anymore. Marketing has gotten more sophisticated, as have the consumers being marketed to. Things like links to social media, search engine optimization, complex data analysis of buyers’ habits, predictive analytics…these can require massive investments of time and money to do in-house.
In fact, when you really get down to it, building and running your eCommerce operation in-house requires more than one area of focus. In theory, you could actually benefit most from having multiple operations within your eCommerce department, including compliance, marketing, and security. When all is said and done, your eCommerce infrastructure could overwhelm the rest of your enterprise. But that’s a very radical, worst-case scenario, thank goodness.
Still, the concerns listed above do impact every business, and trying to deal with them all can eat up a lot of time and money. Plus, even if you’re really good at it, you still might not be operating at maximum efficiency. Other parts of your business, including your own performance, could be suffering. You want to devote 100% of your time to make sure that does not happen.
It’s time to have the conversation
So, at what point is it necessary for you to consider outsourcing, and to what extent? Great questions and there is no absolute answer. That’s why you might want to take a cautious first step. Consult with experts who can give you a clear picture of what selling over the Internet entails. Certainly, there will be some things you can do yourself, and some things that you’ll feel much more comfortable outsourcing. For example, if you’re just starting out, it’s doubtful that you’d be wise to try to build your own one-off eCommerce platform, considering how many great platforms there are on the market. (Magento and Shopify, to mention two of the most popular.)
If you’ve already got your homemade eCommerce platform but you’re getting tired of dealing with its quirks and malfunctions (and the expense and the lost revenue that goes with it), you’ll want to investigate which solution will be easiest to migrate to, and which solution will give you the functionality you need now and will need as your business grows.
But most importantly, these are not decisions you have to make alone. You don’t have to become an eCommerce technology expert. That’s the job of the experts at Adeo Web. They can help you find the answers because they have a decade of eCommerce experience under their belts, and some of the best consultants available anywhere. Plus, Adeo Web’s culture is customer service oriented. Their job isn’t done until they’ve met or exceeded your expectations. Time is money, and there’s not any of either to waste.
Visit us today and see what we have to offer. And then – let’s get started!