Joel Farquhar, VP Architecture Pivotree
Nicolás Cornaglia Schlieman, VP and GM of Valencia Operations Pivotree
José Soriano Bustos, Senior Developer Pivotree
Danilo Delizia, Platform Development Lead Pivotree
In 2020, even without us sequestering ourselves at home for the safety of our communities, eCommerce is an increasingly more significant channel for leading brands in B2C and B2B – and the major software players each have their own solutions to try and deliver the best customer experience possible through integrated Commerce platforms.
As a valued partner to leading brands in creating great Frictionless Commerce experiences, Pivotree has implemented solutions from many major platforms from industry leaders including SAP, Oracle, Adobe, Shopify, Elastic Path, and more. This means we have some strongly-held opinions on what works, what doesn’t, and we get really excited about new challengers who show that they have competitive advantages that our clients and prospects can benefit from.
That’s why we’re excited to share our first thoughts on a leading Commerce platform from VTEX, which is taking the North American and global markets by storm. VTEX Commerce Cloud is a modern microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native platform with headless architecture, as well as fully integrated commerce, marketplace and order management capabilities that can be deployed in as little as 90 days.
Select members of our development team went through VTEX training earlier this year, and we’re onboarding our first clients to this cloud-native multi-tenant SaaS solution. Here are some of our initial thoughts.
Forget about managing your own infrastructure – introducing VTEX.IO
In contrast to most true SaaS commerce platforms, most on-premise, or single-tenant cloud ecommerce platforms have the benefit of being highly customizable, as you are able to work with the platform’s code within the infrastructure that you control. This means you’ll also have to deal with managing environments and running heavy workloads on your own machine, but many developers like the advantages it provides.
Most SaaS (fully multi-tenant) cloud platforms, on the other hand, limit the functionality that can be extended. However, for deeper customization, you’ll end up getting your SI or development team to write custom apps that will be run on your own infrastructure that you will then need to manage. The tradeoffs for this structure are usually beneficial for the organization as it takes away the need to manage the whole platform, but it’s still not ideal.
VTEX has solved these problems with VTEX.IO – a serverless and low code development platform that allows developers to build applications in the cloud so you can easily extend and customize your solution to fit your needs without the need to manage infrastructure, making customization easier.
VTEX.IO has a huge number of benefits, including its workspaces feature that allows multiple versions of code so you don’t disrupt your customers’ experience, A/B testing, and more. VTEX.IO you can create:
- Custom Storefront Apps – Build sophisticated, tailor-made React storefront components for your store.
- Custom Admin Apps – Unlock and extend VTEX data by creating apps for your store’s admin interface.
- Custom Back-Office Apps – Speed up connections with Storefront apps or Admin apps by building back-end services that are developed using Node or .NET Core.
- Custom Pixel apps – Collect user data for a third-party service of your choosing by creating a pixel app.
- Custom Mobile Apps – Your store website in your customers’ mobile device.
React-based for easy development
VTEX uses React as the frontend framework. Front-end developers who are already familiar with other libraries like Angular or Vue will find the transition fairly easy, and the component-based framework makes a friendly user experience that is easy to manage and debug on the development side. In general, React is an incredibly popular and powerful framework with more and more developers choosing to learn it for their own benefit every day, meaning it’s fairly easy to find resources for your needs.
VTEX seems to be designed with developers in mind. They provide a CLI tool that can easily deploy the code changes you make on the remote server so you can quickly test and iterate. Every VTEX account can have multiple workspaces which allows any member of the frontend team to work independently on the frontend application. It brings together many elements that seasoned developers will enjoy – collaboration, easy environment set up, deployment and rollback, meaning building and deploying new features is a breeze.
For instance, in eCommerce development, it’s important to be able to reproduce the setup of an ecommerce application without the need for manual interaction. Most of the ecommerce cloud platforms which rely on apps require manual interaction with the platform for configuration. VTEX minimizes manual configuration so you can easily reproduce the setup of a store through code and versioning configuration and customization details into a repository. And best of all – everything can be fully integrated into a CI/CD pipeline.
A Rapid Time to market with Robust OOTB Functionality
VTEX can be implemented or even migrated to from other platforms in as little as 90 days. Its OOTB configuration offers a wide variety of extensions and integrations that work just the way you need them to. Building customizations is also a more streamlined process. VTEX has everything you need to avoid custom integration work so you can get an MVP store up and running and iterate improvements to the experience over time.
What OOTB applications exist specifically, you may ask? They include…
- Payment gateways | VTEX offers a wide variety of payment gateways integrations which work with just simple configuration
- Easily configurable SEO best practices | VTEX allows users to manage SEO information for each page, including:
- Specifying metatags
- Friendly URL
- Automatic URL 301 redirect when url changes
- Personalization of the HTML, sitemap and robot.txt
- Predefined Order Process | Vtext provides an OOTB Order Process for companies who do not require further customization for unique business cases.
- AI for site search and product recommendations | Your merchandising team will love this
But that’s not all. There are two more major OOTB features that really set VTEX apart, in our books.
Marketplaces were once considered a “nice-to-have” feature, used by companies that had a robust enough development team to make them a reality. Not anymore – with VTEX, any brand on the platform can sell products from any other third-party seller, or publish their products to other marketplaces, making marketplace functionality more frictionless and accessible to all. This is a huge part of why Pivotree has decided to spend time and effort getting familiar with the platform and enabled to implement it for our customers and prospects.
Additionally, VTEX has prebuilt integrations into other marketplaces like Amazon – a huge opportunity for brands who may feel threatened by competitors who are already listed on the Amazon website, and are therefore easier for your average customer to find. They also include marketplaces that are more popular in other regions, like Alibaba – making VTEX a great choice for brands looking for easier global reach.
Distributed Order Management (Logistics and Fulfillment)
VTEX offers a centralized and powerful OMS that has all the tools to meet customer expectations for logistics and fulfillment when purchasing and returning products. It can also be further customized by your SI to provide a custom experiences for your customer service team, but the OOTB functionality is definitely enterprise-level.
It offers easy integration with your ERP, CRM, WMS in order to have real-time product availability.
VTEX also offers a wide range of logistics and shipping functionalities, including:
- Selecting stock from nearest geolocation
- Multi-dock shipment
- Multi-shipping per selling channel
If you’re looking for your next eCommerce platform or even your FIRST eCommerce platform, VTEX is a major contender based on its ease of implementation and OOTB features. It might not meet 100% of the requirements of a highly opinionated veteran team – even our own noticed a few (small) limitations. Some of those issues, we believe, come down to the fact that VTEX is a modern platform, and that they still have some room to grow and continue to add capabilities.
What we like about VTEX is that they are constantly innovating, improving and updating the platform, so your brand will benefit from this innovation instantly, without the need for costly upgrades. If you want to learn more about what analysts say about VTEX, you can download the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce here and the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide B2C Digital Commerce Platforms 2020 Vendor Assessment here.
If no more upgrades, dynamic scalability, competitive advantages from fully-integrated marketplace capabilities and more sound appealing to you, we’d be happy to discuss how you can get started with VTEX – the collaborative commerce platform – in as little as 90 days.
Are you currently on Oracle Commerce, and interested in moving to VTEX?
As the leading service provider to some of the world’s most well-known brands on Oracle Commerce, we’ve written this conversion guide to help understand what a “best-practices” version of the 90-day conversion process to VTEX looks like.
Some of this process will also apply to other monolithic platforms, though you should get in touch if you want to talk to an expert about your unique needs.
Fill out the form to get the guide today and free yourself from the upgrade grind.