While point solutions may at first provide a quick fix to an operational issue or process problem, they can in fact hinder the growth and potential of online brands and retailers when it comes to managing the complexities of cross-border selling.
For those who are unfamiliar with the insider term “point solutions,” it’s defined as the act of solving one particular problem using a niche application. Point solutions are widely used to fix a very specific challenge or implement a new service quickly. And whether you realize it or not, they are a part of your everyday life.
Many folks might remember the old Apple slogan, “There’s an app for that.” We all love the apps that measure our productivity, or help us make to do lists reminding us to run errands, or list out train schedules, or assist in finding a professional to complete a task on our behalf, and more. In broad terms, these are all point solutions that can handle each of these tasks and solve these challenges for users.
In the world of cross-border e-commerce, this approach means that brands and retailers find themselves cobbling together a patchwork of technology tools meant to get things done, but create even more problems from a user perspective.
Here are four reasons for brands and retailers to consider ditching point solutions in favor of a more integrated approach to cross-border expansion:
- A “quick-fix” to a problem is usually temporary. Point applications usually address the needs of a specific channel. Brands that need a fast solution to solve the whole problem usually find that this quick fix is almost always short term. While a point solution focuses on solving a specific functional gap the problem is, as a brand grows and adds more functionality to its e-commerce channels and back-end operations, a whole new crop of challenges will come into play. By the time these new challenges surface, brands are left searching for yet another application to cover the new gaps that emerge.
- Point solutions don’t always play well with others. In an effort to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, many brands jump onto the point solutions bandwagon without considering the bigger picture. The end result is that organizations use multiple tools and technologies to handle different steps of the larger cross-border e-commerce journey. Over time, getting these disparate systems to play nice with each other requires expensive and time-consuming integration projects.
- The trouble with scale. Point solutions are typically aimed at smaller organizations that lack the resources to invest in “enterprise-grade” platform solutions. But, over time, this approach can result in numerous data silos, causing chaos and an inability to scale with a growing business. As your brand grows its international business, having quick, unfettered access to customer data and order information will be crucial. If that data is locked within multiple point solutions that don’t work well together, you could miss out on opportunities to connect with your international customers in a meaningful way.
- The lack of flexibility. Because point solutions are built to solve one specific problem, they tend to offer a “one-size-fits-all” approach that doesn’t work for every e-commerce business. This is particularly challenging for brands that have unique tech stacks. Due to the ever-changing nature of cross-border e-commerce, what brands really need is the ability to implement a solution that is flexible, and customizable with the ability to be configured and reconfigured as needed. As business requirements shift, particularly in times of market and process disruptions, brands will need to adjust and change the set up of their technology stack and tools, and point solutions will present too many limitations
Today’s most successful brands look to unify their operations and create a cohesive brand experience regardless of the channel. And that is best achieved with a holistic and comprehensive platform, one that can be flexible enough to solve today’s problems, while preparing your brand for tomorrow.
The Flow cross-border e-commerce platform answers all four of these challenges and more. Flow Commerce’s flexible platform is one brands of all sizes can rely on for growing globally online.
Find out more about how Flow can end your dependence on point solutions for good by centralizing management of cross-border, automating onerous processes, and integrating with individual business tech stacks. Watch this quick video today for an overview on the solution, or get in touch with one of Flow’s cross-border experts to view a demo.