Your eCommerce store is outdated.

Your eCommerce store is outdated.

In ecommerce, a few short years can bring breathtaking change.

I’ve been in ecommerce for over twenty years, and have witnessed many incredible changes over those two decades.

Looking back, the technology powering my first ecommerce store I built in 1995 in my college dorm room was laughable.  Despite its rudimentary nature, it was revolutionary for the time — simply having an online store provided a huge technical advantage.

My first store — looking back, it’s hard to believe this website financed my entire medical school education!

While I have a fondness for that simple first store — it helped me pay for medical school and eventually retire from practicing medicine — it paled in comparison to the ecommerce technology we built to power my last ecommerce business started in 2009.  On the strength of the tech powering our many online stores, we raised over $100 million in venture capital.

The ecommerce platform we built in 2009 was cutting-edge and allowed us to disrupt several retail industries, but even that technology is now obsolete.  Such is the nature of ecommerce — the technology powering your store must constantly evolve our you’ll go out of business.

Every few years a dramatic change in the underlying technology powering these online stores happens.  Through those 20 years, I’ve seen half a dozen paradigm shifts in ecommerce… we’re currently in the middle of perhaps the most dramatic change I’ve seen to date.

If your site is even four or five years old,  you are likely missing out on many game changing ecommerce innovations that have become commonplace in the past half decade.

Here are four critical innovations that have happened in the past few years — if your store’s ecommerce platform doesn’t leverage these features, you’ll need to upgrade your technology to remain competitive:

Custom built software

In 1995 we had no choice but to build our own ecommerce software — there was no other option.  Even in 2009, large volume stores like ours had little choice but to build our own platform from scratch.  Today, the most logical route for all but the largest online stores is to use a highly-customized version of existing platform.  Rather than having a couple dozen developers on staff like we did earlier this decade, a business similar to our could operate with a single in-house developer or even use outsourced programming talent.

Cloud hosted

Managing your own physical hardware is a dinosaur from a bygone era.  Moving your store to a cloud hosted, managed solution means no more server outages, on demand scaling for high volume days, and good riddance to countless other headaches of managing your own servers and software.

Mobile first, responsive design

The shift to mobile is real — over half of all ecommerce transactions are completed on mobile devices.  Mobile design has massively changed in the last couple of years.  Older ecommerce software is woefully lagging in the mobile-first design elements needed to be competitive today.

Was your site designed with the screen resolution of an iPhone 5 in mind? Your assets and product images might be woefully out of date.


Embedded Marketing technology

Ecommerce marketing technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past half decade.  In fact, the lack of embedded marketing technology in existing ecomemrce platforms was the reason we started building Engine, our proprietary ecommerce platform we use for our clients.

The tools we built are much improved versions modeled after the customer acquisition and customer relationship management tools that allowed us to acquire 11 million email subscribers, 8 million fans, and raise over $100 million venture capital at our last ecommerce business.

After reading this, if you’re frustrated with your ecommerce platform, you are not alone — recent research from Internet Retailer shows that nearly half of all e-retailers want a new ecommerce platform.

While it blows my mind that literally half of all ecommerce stores are frustrated with their current platform, the reason is simple: while software like Magento 1.0 and Open Cart were cutting edge when they were first built in 2008 and 2009 respectively, they are a full technology cycle behind.  While I doubt that many people are still using a Motorola RAZR or the original iPhone (2008’s most popular phones), many stores are still using technology developed in 2008 or earlier to power their stores.

If you need help moving to a modren, mobile-first, cloud-hosted, cutting-edge ecommerce platform, drop us a line. You can reach us at or in the bottom right of your screen in the chat window.

Written by
John James, M.D. is the CEO of Engine, a modern cloud-hosted ecommerce platform. I paid for medical school with an ecommerce business I founded in my dorm room over twenty years ago, and eventually raised over $100 million in venture capital running Acumen Brands. Email me -- john at enginecommerce dot com.