In the present era of online sales, in which “eCommerce” and “commerce” are becoming ever more synonymous, establishing or improving your business is a tech problem as much as it is a strategic issue. Unless your concept is built upon a sturdy technological framework, it may fall short of its potential.

In such an IT-driven environment, it’s not surprising that technological shifts have started to define the course of retail. Now, if you want to keep up with the eCommerce mainstream, it’s important to have the right platform underlying your offerings. Cloud computing is the engine that makes the model run, with its scalable power and geographic reach giving your business the capabilities it needs.

Pure brick-and-mortar models suffering

Starting an eCommerce business today or taking a brick-and-mortar company into the world of omnichannel operations means breaking free from the limitations that have held traditional sales back. As EMarketer pointed out while the dust settled from the 2016 holiday season, the gap between online and in-person shopping has only grown larger through the years. The digital revolution is an ongoing process, and as of peak season 2016 traditional store traffic was down for 48 months running.

The ongoing strength of eCommerce and comparative softness in brick-and-mortar operations means companies should find ways to make themselves truly online-first, embracing digital advantages. This is where the cloud comes in. Being able to purchase key components of operations as a service has changed the equation of starting or maintaining a company, enabling agile and fast-moving models that put the physical-first market in the past.

The cloud is the underlying power behind comprehensive eCommerce.

Responsiveness and agility

When Social Barrel described the advantages of cloud computing in eCommerce, many of the positives revolved around flexibility. Rigid and old-fashioned IT models are a hindrance in a market that has changed over the years. Organizations that run their IT in a traditional manner, buying servers on-premise and building up power, may find that their overhead costs are ballooning. Furthermore, this is not an efficient way to increase capabilities.

Social Barrel pointed out that eCommerce is a low-overhead form of retail. Committing huge sums to getting sufficient computing power to run a stable online service undercuts this advantage. Adding extra resources to cope with high demand during peak season is one of the priorities driving eCommerce IT decisions – the other is keeping overhead as low as possible during the rest of the year. Inflexible traditional computing can’t really offer this balance, hence the cloud’s quick rise.

Bring the whole supply chain along

Of course, moving the web-based elements of a company to the cloud may create problems even while it solves them. ECommerce organizations that use online channels to sell physical goods have to exist in two realms at once – the digital space where they interact with customers and sell the goods and the physical world of warehouses and shippers where they actually fulfill the orders. Business 2 Community Mark Barry recently restated the importance of making sure the supply chain is up to the task of suiting the cloud-based infrastructure.

Great eCommerce needs the brawn provided by the cloud.

According to the author, this means optimizing each step of the supply chain with interoperable apps based in the cloud. It can take a number of discrete partners to make up a complete supply chain, and in a truly cloud-based environment, each relevant organization has access to the information and capabilities it needs to meet customer expectations. In an era of high demand and elevated standards dominated by giants such as Amazon, this competency is not optional.

Shopping for a platform

Getting the right cloud-based eCommerce platform, one that is comprehensive and capable of keeping the company running at the speed of modern business, is an objective for any merchant ready for an upgrade. Intuitive order management and efficiency-building business logic can become tools to help eCommerce organizations reach their goals and improve their relationships with customers and supply chain partners alike.

There are really two sides to an eCommerce platform – the front-end capabilities that shoppers will appreciate and the back-end processes that keep the complex mechanics of modern sales running. Unless a chosen cloud platform can deliver on both fronts, its shortcomings may become clear. Getting a great platform, however, ensures the flexibility, power and agility that modern companies need.