If I was to put my neck on the block, I would say the pace of development on eCommerce has slowed a little over the past couple of years. The thirst for continuous and never ending improvement has abated; instead, online retailers are rightly focusing on optimising page design and updating content rather than the next big, whizz-bang website innovation. For those who are re-platforming, the choice of eCommerce platform is an interesting one. Alongside a host of plugin app developers, providers like Shopify have created a brutally simple and effective CMS for users who are happy with a standard feature set. At the other end of the scale, a growing legion of Magento developers are able to pretty much able to achieve anything at the long-term cost of support and, as one user commented to me recently, ‘imprisonment in my own domain’. I think it was a play on words, but you get the idea.
Our own 3EX.NET eCommerce platform was developed as a fully integrated offering for clients who rather liked having their eggs in one basket. Over the years we have granted users more and more ‘sovereignty’ over site content and presentation without ceding the level of control needed to provide effective support and development going forwards. However, site structure and bespoke functionality was always in our court and this could be a frustration for clients wanting to make quick changes without the rigours of change control. 3EX.NET Version 4 introduces a revamped eCommerce suite and development environment using an open template language known as Liquid. The product retains all the strengths of an integrated database and functionality, but allows users to call functions and build new web pages without developing custom code. To the uninitiated, a Liquid site would look exactly like a V3 site, but substantively differentiated by the flexibility of the former. Market positioning of 3EX.NET has always been driven by its back office functionality and ability to manage complex workflow, but Version 4 may just give us an edge in the middle ground, catering for those who want a simple yet sophisticated eCommerce platform.