Why Trusting Too Many Third-Party Vendors Is Hurting Your Brand
eCommerce brands can gain a lot from working with a Business-as-a-Service provider. From improving fulfillment and customer service to successfully expanding internationally, the combination of software and expert advice can be incredibly effective.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing, however.
As Philip Kushmaro, Founder of PKDMA Inc. writes, it’s become easy to add tech tools, vendors and providers. As a result, brands are beginning to experience serious issues like security threats, a lack of integration and a loss of control.
Leveraging third-party vendors can be a huge opportunity for eCommerce brands, but relying on too many can cause your online business to stutter or even fail.
Multiple Third-Party Vendors Can Be a Nightmare to Handle
When you have dozens of different services and applications handling small parts of your eCommerce operations, keeping on top of all of them can be an ordeal.
All of those apps need to work together to deliver a genuinely effective solution, but it takes just one or two apps to spoil your entire operational setup. The problem is that it isn’t always obvious how well apps integrate with each other when you are making the initial purchase, notes Webgility’s Rob McGrorty. Sales pages will often claim an app integrates with everything, but just because one app connects to another doesn’t mean it will provide enough functionality to work.
This is called a “faux integration,” McGrorty explains. “At the very least, apps that center around the same business functions should work seamlessly together,” he writes.
So a payroll app, for instance, should push data to a larger accounting app with a level of detail that makes the information easy to understand and reconcile. If just one app doesn’t work this way, the whole system is compromised.
When third-party apps don’t work together, an eCommerce brand’s team can be forced to handle a lot of tasks manually. This might seem OK in the moment, but handling tasks manually rather than programmatically will hinder the growth of your brand, writes AJ Morris, a Product Innovation and Marketing Manager at iThemes.
Rightpoint’s Dale Traxler found it a nightmare running his own eCommerce brand when none of his third-party applications worked together. “Our customer data was spread out in three systems; our product information was in two systems. We spent most of our time finding, managing, and reentering data.”
Too Much Software Can Damage a Brand’s Performance
If you rely on an open source eCommerce platform, integrating too many third-party applications can seriously slow down your website. That’s because these apps use external files and code that can cause pages to take a long time to load. The more apps you have, the more chance that one or several of these apps will conflict with each other, causing your whole site to break.
Further, some third-party solutions may not be able to scale as quickly as your brand requires, writes Gareth Dismore, CEO of SearchSpring. Take Black Friday and other peak online sales periods. While these are big days for your brand, they are much bigger days for these third-party solutions, which need to cater to an entire industry. “Many of these services aren’t designed to handle heavy loads,” Dismore says. This software can let your brand down just when you need it most.
It’s not just the customer-facing website that could suffer, either. Having access to both the right software and the right advice is essential for eCommerce success, as eCommerce Training Academy founder Alaa Hassan writes. Getting both is one of the most common challenges that eCommerce brands face. That isn’t easy when you work with several different third-party software providers, especially when they offer conflicting advice.
Working with specialized consultants is a great way to get a lot of expert advice on very small areas of your business, but there’s no one looking at the bigger picture or making sure that all of the advice is congruent. With expert advice pulling you in different directions, it can be difficult to move forward.
Too Many Third-Party Vendors Increases Security Risks
Working with third parties inevitably means giving access to your systems and your customer data. Every time you share this data with a third party, you are creating a security risk for your brand, writes NuHarbor Security’s Paul Dusini.
“Once a vendor has access to your network, they have access to confidential company, customer, and employee information,” Dusini writes. “If your vendor’s network isn’t secure, they put your data at risk, and your company is completely responsible for whatever happens to that data.”
The problem is that most eCommerce executives don’t consider the security risks of integrating third-party applications into their store, says Rewind’s Rally Stanoeva. Part of the reason is that they think the security of the own platform is so strong. The reality, however, is that your company’s security is only as strong as its weakest link. So, even if your own website or platform has incredibly high levels of security, it can be made incredibly vulnerable by a lax third party.
The Solution? One Unifying eCommerce Platform
How can eCommerce brands balance the benefits third-party expertise with the issues that result from vendor bloat? The simple answer is to partner with an enterprise full-service eCommerce platform. It’s the best of both worlds: a third-party expert who can help you grow your store with a single integrated platform.
Everything is much easier to manage with a unified eCommerce platform. “One of the major benefits to cloud solutions is their ability to enable operational efficiencies,” says writer and editor Kristy Blackmon, “and a cloud-based unified commerce platform is no different.”
eCommerce operations are huge, but with a unified platform everything from marketing to fulfillment can be accessed in a single place by everyone in the organization.
There’s no risk of siloed information, either. When you use several third-party pieces of software, there’s absolutely no guarantee that they will be able to communicate or that all of your staff will be able to access the information they need from each service quickly. This can make answering customer queries or carrying out simple admin duties a real headache.
With a unified eCommerce platform, however, all of the information your staff needs is within easy reach, writes Paldesk’s Nikolina Maškarić. This level of communication could even let brands automate tasks such as sending out a marketing email after a product has been successfully delivered.
It’s for these reasons that brands trust Scalefast’s enterprise eCommerce platform. Rather than trying to juggle dozens of third-party applications and their inherent risks, they run everything through Scalefast’s all-in-one platform and trust our team of experts to help scale their brand fast.