Staying Competitive: MSMEs and E-commerce Strategies with Nathan Focht

June 13, 2024


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The e-commerce industry has grown at breakneck speed in recent years —  the industry is expected to reach $8.1 trillion globally by 2026. People are changing how they interact with brands and their shopping experiences, and their expectations are much higher for brands to meet them where they are, not the other way around.

In tandem, as technology progresses, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have had the opportunity to use cutting-edge resources, like full-fledged e-commerce platforms, to advance their business goals and scale faster. This has enabled them to compete with giants in their respective industries, offering personalized sales services to their customers thanks to B2B e-commerce companies that power them at affordable prices.

Nathan Focht, CEO of CommerceV3, a leading full-service cloud platform for high-volume digital commerce, sat down with The Sociable to discuss the recent changes in e-commerce dynamics and how MSMEs can respond to these changes. He has over 20 years of leadership experience in SaaS and e-commerce and led CommerceV3 to process over $1 billion annually — the company remained resilient, even as larger platforms faced difficulties due to shifting consumer behavior.

As e-commerce sales continue to grow globally, what unique strategies have you found effective in supporting MSMEs to stay competitive in a market dominated by larger players?

I’ve always believed that merchants, no matter their size, must receive the same high-quality services throughout their growth journey. So many solutions strip out features from the product, offer that limited feature set as “basic or standard,” and sell a full suite only to their enterprise merchants. If a merchant hopes to grow their business, they should be using those enterprise features from day one to compete. 

Just because you are not a $100 million business today does not mean that the shoppers are different or that marketing is somehow easier. At CommerceV3, we know you must use all the tools no matter your current size, and thus, you have one price and access to all features.

Consumer behavior has changed dramatically in recent years. How has this shift influenced your approach to e-commerce solutions, and what trends do you believe will shape the future of online shopping?

I have seen many shifts and trends in the last 25 years that I have been in the e-commerce space. Some are subtle, like mobile becoming the dominant method for shopping, to relatively sudden changes like Amazon’s dominance. As the shopper at large evolves and becomes more educated, your website must adjust and offer that expected experience. 

With the rapid interest in and adoption of AI, we will see a shift in e-commerce functionality. Websites started as digital catalogs and slowly improved to help you purchase items you wanted faster. But with AI, we are going to see sites becoming interactive personal shoppers. 

E-commerce sites will learn who you are and what you like and bring those items to you. They will even instantly alter category names, product variety, checkout flow, and maybe even colors and layouts based on what it decides you prefer. If the website learns you hate green, it can simply switch to red tones so you stick around a little longer. 

Maybe you respond to free shipping more than you would with a 15% discount — no problem! The site is no longer a consistent experience for all shoppers but rather responds to individual needs and tastes.

How do full-service cloud platforms support the scalability of e-commerce businesses, and what challenges do they help overcome?

A crucial part of scaling is saving costs and increasing revenue. At CommerceV3, we believe that coordinating with several vendors to complete a task costs time and money, which gets businesses further from their goals. By offering the platform, development, design, marketing, etc., all in one place, we make you more efficient and effective so you spend your time and money more wisely in other activities.

This also benefits the merchant as they grow because the system is all in one place and ready for them to expand into new or advanced services without changing platforms — we grow alongside them.

Reflecting on your leadership at CommerceV3, what critical milestones and strategies helped the company navigate its growth, especially during periods of significant market change?

CommerceV3 had a critical decision to make back in 2007. Our senior developer had to move due to spouse relocation. We were a small staff back then, and thinking about losing a key team member was very concerning. 

So, we decided to allow her to work remotely rather than look for a replacement. It was so successful for us that by the beginning of 2008, we had moved everyone to remote and moved out of our offices forever. We had no clue then, but 13 years later, COVID came along and drove many businesses to remote work. 

Just by good fortune, we were already “social distancing,” and our business had zero interruptions and serviced our merchants as usual. Sometimes, your greatest success moments come out of seemingly insignificant choices.

Based on your extensive experience in high-volume digital commerce, what advice would you give to emerging e-commerce businesses looking to scale effectively in a competitive landscape?

There are two key things you must do when growing a small business, which apply even if you’re not in digital commerce. The first is knowing your business’s identity to a T. And, similarly, knowing what customers you want to attract.

Second, be proactive and cutting-edge, but don’t get distracted by new gadgets and smooth salesmen. While you want to innovate, you must also stay laser-focused on what you’re already working on, avoiding bandwagoning new trends that might be fleeting and a waste of time down the line.

If you do not test every decision against these two statements, you will waste time and money and end up with an offering your customers don’t want. 

This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company


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