TL; DR: Helping everyone from one-person startups to companies pulling in more than $50 million in annual sales, the CoreCommerce platform gives users a flexible, choose-your-own-adventure option for building an online business. By including a website builder, shopping cart, and hosted payment pages, the eCommerce suite seamlessly integrates with existing websites, third-party applications, and shipping programs. Businesses can mix-and-match which products they want and recently launched a revamped administrative portal to further personalize the online store. CEO Michael Thompson told us about his transition into the eCommerce world, as well as the new features on the horizon.
Coming from the payments industry, new CEO Michael Thompson wasn’t quite sure what he had gotten himself into when he and three other executives chose to acquire CoreCommerce, a web-based eCommerce platform featuring a website builder, shopping cart program, and hosted payment pages.
“I had no idea how complex operating a shopping cart really is,” he said with a laugh. A year and a half after the acquisition, however, and Michael has grown the CoreCommerce team, released dozens of new features, and revamped both the platform’s administrative interface and company’s own website.
A 16-year veteran of the eCommerce industry, CoreCommerce helps thousands of customers run every aspect of their online business. From inventory management and payment processing to marketing and analytics, both startups and million-dollar companies use CoreCommerce to expand their brand.
One aspect that impressed Michael from the start of his tenure is the relatively small team behind the big CoreCommerce platform.
“We’re small but we leverage technology pretty efficiently because most of the staff have programming skills,” he said. “We give our customers the tools to run and grow their business, and we’re here to help them succeed.”
The 3 Legs of the CoreCommerce Stool
Boasting 99.99% uptime, automatic updates, and extensive integration with third-party applications, CoreCommerce doesn’t “featuregate” customers, as Michael said, or limit their success based on which plan for which they sign up.
“Whether you’re in our basic pricing tier or all the way up at our enterprise level, everybody has full access to all the functionality,” he said. “You’ll get everything from marketing to inventory management to the ability to print shipping labels.”
1. Building an eCommerce Website
CoreCommerce includes many of the standard features people expect from a generic website builder, but the platform adds numerous eCommerce-specific tools to further improve and personalize the customer experience.
In addition to hundreds of themes — 16 of which are responsive — CoreCommerce includes tools for marketing, coupons, and analytics as part of its all-in-one storefronts. Merchants can quickly deploy feeds for recently viewed and related products, as well as top sellers and new arrivals.
According to Michael, CoreCommerce differentiates itself by being a global platform — one store operates in multiple languages and currencies.
“Whenever new payment schemes come along, we’ve got to adapt to comply with new regulations or services that the payment companies offer,” he said, adding that CoreCommerce connects to 45 different payment gateways.
2. Adding a Shopping Cart to an Existing Site
CoreCommerce initially started in 2001 as a downloadable shopping cart provider and introduced the SaaS platform in 2008. Adding integrations and new features is a continual process as the company grows. The cart remains an a la carte option for companies who prefer to integrate it into an existing website.
The shopping cart-only option integrates with more than 100 additional eCommerce applications and inherits the website’s design and style. CoreCommerce hosts the cart at a subdomain of the customer’s site. Entrepreneurs can enable gift registries and contact customers about abandoned carts, along with tools for inventory tracking and partnering with shipping companies.
“We deal with IT, finance, and operations folks because we tie into everything: marketing, inventory management, back-office shipping, and fulfillment,” Michael said. “With the evolution of the industry, we have to adapt to meet customers’ requests on all aspects of the business.”
3. Collect Payments Through a Hosted Page
Given his experience in the payment world, Michael has concentrated on introducing new tools to process transactions. “Part of what I’ve brought to the table is trying to give our clients a better deal on processing, which can be expensive in this card-not-present environment,” he said.
CoreCommerce boasts the highest possible level of PCI compliance and enables merchants to accept payments throughcards, mobile wallets, gift certificates and money orders. The company’s most recent service, however, is hosted payments pages that empower tech-phobic sellers to design payments processing pages, invoices, and pay now buttons without any programming.
“Just like our web stores, the hosted payments page is a template that you can customize for your needs and publish it whenever you’re ready,” Michael said.
How the Complete Platform Leaves Room for Customization
According to Michael, the well-rounded and affordable CoreCommerce platform should deter emerging businesses and prospective entrepreneurs from cobbling multiple services together in an effort to save costs.
“What happens is that you wind up spending a lot more time, effort, and money than it would take to just pick a platform like ours and have everything done for you,” he said, adding that customers can customize their own sites or enlist CoreCommerce experts for personalized development. “Even though we’re a SaaS platform, we’re not delivering the same thing to every client.”
CoreCommerce operates a separate database for each customer, so design restrictions are minimal. Internal scripts run to tie each store’s unique characteristics to the common platform.
“Everyone has their little niche, and we’re sort of the quarterback in the middle that hands off data or transactions,” Michael said. “It’s important for us to be there for merchants to deliver the customized solutions, which are internally developed.”
Merchants are Quick to Adopt New, Responsive Administrative Tools
After 16 months and more than 14,000 developer hours, CoreCommerce launched a revamped administrative panel in May 2017 featuring a responsive design that allows sellers to manage their stores from any device.
According to Michael, 35% of CoreCommerce customers switched to the new system on the first day, largely without any issues.
“Out of all our clients, only one customer impact on a whole new platform launch is pretty remarkable,” he said. “One of my large competitors is also coming out with a new version, and it has been a very tough migration for their clients.”
The new administrative system is the latest entry on a long list of innovations and new releases for CoreCommerce, which debuted a new support center, website design, and onboarding programs.
With the major administrative platform complete, Michael said the team has shifted to the 250 ideas and tasks in various phases of implementation.
Increased Integration With UPS Improves Shoppers’ Shipping Experience
One such project ready for the masses is a UPS Ready certification that closely integrates and streamlines the shipping process.
“We’re one of only a handful of eCommerce platforms in the world that has done this kind of integration with UPS,” Michael said. “Everything from access points on the checkout page, to a UPS store locator and support of UPS Mail Innovations, they’re doing a lot to improve the buying customers’ experience in shipping.”
For example, merchants and their customers can arrange for a product to be delivered to a particular UPS store or access point instead of leaving it vulnerable on a front porch.
According to Michael, the continuous development and announcements of new integrations help both CoreCommerce and the merchants using its platform.
“It’s a quickly evolving world,” he said. “I think that, in the future, our customers can expect us to do more to help them on the actual marketing of their products, but today we’re really more of experts in helping them get their store up and running by leveraging our platform and its tools.”