Decoding the Report

I read an interesting report today that was written by Mark Friedman and Rick Watson of RMW Commerce Consulting.  It’s worth noting that this report was commissioned by Shopware and ITG is a Shopware Platinum Partner, but Mark & Rick are well known in our industry for their knowledge and opinions so don’t let that get in the way of a good read.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can grab a copy here.  It’s titled “Breaking Up is Hard To Do. The Journey of the Mid-Market Merchant”.

Here at ITG Commerce, we focus on delivering commerce solutions primarily for mid market and lower enterprise businesses that have a decent amount of complexity in their business model.  We’ve got a long history of doing that with Magento / Adobe Commerce, Shopware and much more recently Commerce Layer (read our rationale for that partnership here if you missed it).  This report really resonated with me, as it’s almost exclusively talking about the market segment that we focus on here at ITG (“almost” as it’s quite US centric, and we also do lots of work in Europe).  

Anyway, reading this report helped me surface three thoughts that I’ve been feeling in the market for the past year or so.

  • There is not a lot of happiness amongst mid market merchants with their current commerce platforms.
  • We’ve probably never seen a time where there was such a low appetite to re-platform to something new.  
  • Shopify presents a terrific solution for many mid market merchants when their requirements fit, but when complexity enters the room and Shopify isn’t a fit, where else can you go?

Mark and Rick say this more tactfully than I’m saying it, but the subtext is there…   Anyone that works in our industry at the moment has been feeling this for a while, regardless of whether they are saying it out loud (or in a corporate blog post).

A lot of what is discussed in this report raised more questions than answers for me. The key questions I’ve been thinking about are:

  • With so much unhappiness with existing platforms, yet so much reluctance to take on the cost and challenge of re-platforming, what does it actually take for a business leader to take the plunge on a new platform in 2024?  
  • For the mid market merchants that are “stuck” on their existing platforms, where can they make incremental investments to remain competitive and agile?
  • What kind of evidence are we seeing of mid market merchants really sinking their teeth into composable commerce?  And what are the specific business challenges they are facing that sends them down this path?
  • To what extent is the economic climate influencing businesses decisions to avoid or delay re-platforming?  
  • BigCommerce, commercetools, Shopware and VTEX all get a mention as viable “Shopify alternatives” but are we really in a world where the pickings are so slim?  Who else is doing exciting things for mid market merchants, particularly when complexity is high?

I actually reached out to Mark & Rick to see if either of them would be up for a chat on these questions.  Mark was keen to have a discussion with me, which we’re going to record and share with all of you.  So stay tuned here and we’ll post a link with that video here in the coming days.

In the mean time, let me leave you with some thoughts on the mid market from Stefan Hamann, Shopware Founder & CEO.

“In the realm of ecommerce, the mid-market is often overlooked, akin to the ‘fly-over states’ in a landscape dominated by giants. Major software firms typically cater to either small-scale ventures or colossal enterprises. At Shopware, we challenge this norm. Our dedication lies in pioneering innovative solutions tailored specifically for the mid-market merchant, ensuring they are not just included, but prioritized.”