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Some mid-tier retailers are locked in by their own technology decisions. For example, when starting out in 2000, ShoppersChoice.com decided to organize product attributes in its database using "brother" relationships, such as "medium and large" or "red and blue," says Corey Tisdale, CEO of the home appliances and furniture e-retailer. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry generally built databases using "parent-child" relationships, in which attributes nest beneath each other in a hierarchy. "Just the cost of mapping out 2.5 to 3 million SKUs and redoing the relationships that took 13 years to input would be a vast undertaking—is anything worth that?" he asks.
That's a good question, and the kind that midmarket online retailers increasingly are asking themselves. The answer no doubt varies by the e-retailer's business and existing technology. But finding the right answer is crucial for mid-tier e-retailers looking to grow, says FitForCommerce's Martin. The right software decision, she says, can accelerate growth, while the wrong choice can stifle it.
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