Selecting the most appropriate e-commerce platform is one of the most important and difficult tasks for online retailers, especially for those who are just entering the market and have limited funds. The options are plentiful and prices can range from $50 to $10,000 per month. Purchasing the most appropriate e-commerce platform can save you a significant amount of money, boost your online sales, and allow you to run your business with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
To avoid some major business headaches down the road, we recommend that e-commerce businesses consider the following questions and advice:
- What website features are the most important to your business?
If you are an established retailer who wants to offer a unique and feature rich website to your users, you should not purchase the most basic and fairly inexpensive platform, such as BigCommerce.
- Do you have a development team capable of implementing the platform switch/upgrade?
Some of the e-commerce platform integrations are complicated, time consuming, and require a skilled team of developers. If you do not have such capabilities, you will be better off to outsource the project to a company that specializes in e-commerce platform integration. This can be costly and you should do your homework when selecting a vendor to take on your project.
- Do you have capability to host the e-commerce software?
If you have a small operation and limited resources, we recommend that you find a third party hosting service for your e-commerce platform.
- How much are you willing to spend on the entire project?
It is very important to ask about all the fees associated with the e-commerce platform integration, including setup fees, flat monthly service fees, and percentage of monthly sales fees.
- What e-commerce platforms do your competitors use?
If shoppers in your industry are accustomed to certain e-commerce features, they may avoid shopping at your website if you do not have the same or better features.
- How much technical support does the vendor offer?
The more cost-effective vendors usually offer very limited customer support, especially in terms of promptness. For example, BigCommerce customer support is frequently escalated among numerous departments and it can take weeks to resolve issues. If you want to have minimal downtime and expect prompt customer support, we encourage you select a vendor that shares the same goals.
- How stable is the company that owns the e-commerce platform?
Strategic mergers and acquisitions are common in the e-commerce arena. It is important to find out if the platform you are considering is not going to cease to exist or get acquired by a company with sub par customer support.
- Is the new platform compatible with your existing software and systems?
This is especially important in terms of your accounting, customer relationship management, and shipping software. For example, if you use QuickBooks Online, you have to make sure that the new e-commerce software will be able to communicate with it or you may have to incur additional expenses for plug-ins.
- Does your website need to be mobile friendly?
If a significant number of your online customers access your website from mobile devices, it is extremely important that the e-commerce platform you select is at least somewhat mobile friendly.
- Does the vendor require a contract and offer any guarantees?
If a vendfor requires a contractual agreement, it is very important to make sure it clearly outlines financial penalties if the vendor does not meet the specified goals. Do not accept verbal promises in lieu of a written agreement.
Just like with any other important decision, we encourage businesses to do their homework and get a few different quotes/proposals before selecting an e-commerce platform.