4 minutes to read

"The US mid-market ecommerce platform sector is a wasteland," says ecommerce legend Rick Watson

"The US mid-market ecommerce platform sector is a wasteland," says ecommerce legend Rick Watson

Navigating the mid-market ecommerce maze: a guide to platform decision-making

In the ever-evolving landscape of mid-market ecommerce, the decision to replatform is akin to navigating a maze. The report, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Journey of the Mid-Market Merchant," authored by ecommerce legend Rick Watson, sheds light on the challenges faced by mid-market merchants and offers insights into evaluating and choosing the right ecommerce platform.

Let's delve into the key findings and explore the critical aspects that mid-market merchants need to consider.

The mid-market conundrum

The mid-market, often defined by a GMV range of $10 million to $250 million, faces a unique set of challenges that include complex business structures, diverse brand portfolios, extensive catalogs, omnichannel scenarios, and the need for customized customer experiences. Despite lacking the financial margins of enterprises, mid-market merchants deal with nearly the same level of business complexity, creating a perpetual struggle between requirements and available resources.

The ecommerce platform market landscape

The dominance of Adobe Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud in the mid-market is waning, with new players like Shopify (the company just changed its pricing model) and Shopware gaining attention. However, merchants remain hesitant to make the leap, citing concerns about the risks associated with replatforming.

The report highlights the decline of major players like Salesforce and Adobe, contributing to the perception that options for change are limited.

Lessons from case studies - Demandware and Magento

Case studies on Demandware (now Salesforce) and Magento (now Adobe) illustrate the challenges and decisions faced by top merchants over the past decade. Despite ownership changes and development struggles, a significant percentage of merchants have stayed with their existing platforms. The report emphasizes the difficulty in convincing merchants to abandon their current solutions.

Evaluating replatforming decisions

The report underscores the reluctance of mid-market merchants to replatform, citing common fears such as loss of organic traffic, lack of flexibility, integration issues, and hidden costs. The decision-making process is complicated by the limited budget, with merchants often prioritizing existing roadmaps over exploring new platforms.

Emerging players in the replatforming landscape

As mid-market merchants cautiously consider replatforming, four emerging names - BigCommerce, commercetools, Shopware, and VTEX - have entered the spotlight. Despite the potential, merchants are still searching for a clear third choice, with many unaware of these alternative platforms.

Pains of the mid-market merchant

The unique challenges faced by mid-market merchants include rising costs, poor customer experiences, a lack of talent, technical complexity, declining traffic, missing data opportunities, and channel complexity. These pain points further complicate the decision-making process.

Decision-making criteria for merchants

The report recommends crucial criteria for mid-market merchants when evaluating potential eCommerce platforms. These include vendor stability, implementation, total cost of ownership, site performance, payments flexibility, customizability, and hosting.


In conclusion, the journey of the mid-market merchant in replatforming decisions is undeniably complex. The report sheds light on the nuanced challenges and considerations, providing valuable insights for businesses looking to navigate this intricate landscape. As the mid-market continues to evolve, choosing the right ecommerce platform becomes not just a decision but a strategic imperative for sustained growth.

Here is some more context from Rick:


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