"The Paradox of Choice" - As the saying goes, "More is Less".
With the extensive selection of e-commerce platform options available to us, it is so easy to start an online shopping experience for your business and customers. According to a study, 90% of respondents from maturing organizations revealed that digitally transforming their company is on the top list of their organizational vision. Unfortunately, most businesses fail to choose the best platform that realizes their long-term goals. Here are 7 basic tips to help you choose the ideal e-commerce platform for your business.
Know your Digital Vision and Objectives
Similar to the start of all projects, there need to be a clear vision and strategy, objectives and targets. Having a clear knowledge of these pointers allow you to cement and communicate what you envision the business to be, set the objectives and targets, providing your team with a road map of how to progress with the digital transformation journey.
Ask Yourself Questions About the Business
We can't reiterate enough how important it is to fully understand your business. Before proceeding with the search for a provider, prepare the responses to these questions:
- Why am I interested in an e-commerce platform?
- What are my digital vision and objectives?
- How many products, brands and catalogs do I need to support online?
- How many customers do I have? How do I want to grow my customer base?
- What is my current business process around orders and fulfillment?
- What do I need from the platform that will resolve my current pain points?
At Intershop, these are just some of the questions that we ask interested parties in order to be able to provide them the most relevant e-commerce solution. By sharing vital information about your business, we are able to help you get one step closer to achieving your digital vision and objectives.
Understanding your Audience
Personalization, design and customer journey - understanding these basics is the building block to the success of an e-commerce business. Getting those factors right will define the user's willingness to engage on the platform. There may be specific platform requirements that you need to be aware of before choosing your e-commerce provider. For instance, a B2C website would require different capabilities than a B2B platform. Order management, complex pricing, quotes, catalogs, will vary across businesses.
For a start, ask yourself these questions:
- How does your customer want to make payments? Do they prefer third-party vendors such as PayPal?
- Do most of your customers use their desktop or mobile to view your website?
- Do your customers want personalized content when logging in?
Essentially, who will be using your site? Keep them in mind whilst choosing and building your e-commerce platform.
Professional and Reliable Help
Does your business have an in-house IT team, or do you need professional help? If you have ample knowledge or resources to host the site by yourself on your own servers, focus your search on solutions with thriving communities. However, hosting the platform on your own boils down to cost, time, involvement and security. If you decide to go solo, you will have to figure out many aspects on your own - setting up, launching, maintenance, crashes, solutions, etc.
Having a platform provider 24/7 will manage your servers, hosting, security concerns and maintenance. Moreover, since they are running the code, they also accommodate traffic spikes and scaling up of capacity when needed. Make sure to find a provider that starts you on the journey, follows through and grows with you on every step of the customer journey.
Budget and quality
You pay for what you get. Nowadays, many platforms are free while others charge monthly or annual fees depending on the number of products or how much traffic your business generates. Think about what matters most to your business - price, hosting or a combination? However, compromising technology in lieu of reducing the overall costs is a huge NO-NO.
A misdirected platform that supports minimal features and is not flexible to be scaled up in the future is a waste, both of your development time and resources.
However, bear in mind that price does not always equal quality. Every e-commerce platform provider sells different features with different price packages. Be willing to invest in what your IT needs.
Your business will continuously develop and change. Maybe in a few months or years, you will need a platform that can store hundreds of customer names and support thousands of SKUs. Rather than searching for a new platform, it is undoubtedly so much easier to start with a flexible, scalable and upgradable platform right from the beginning.
Ideally, choose a platform that allows you to scale up and down as needed, whilst giving you the flexibility to add extensions, integrations and features. This way, it saves you the trouble of migrating to a new platform and saves time, money and resources every time a new feature is to be added.
Once you have decided on the most ideal platform, you should request a product demo. This provides you with the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the platform. Moreover, by having a walk-through, you will get a better understanding of its customization capabilities and how you can maximize its potential. If possible, request for customer references and past project examples to evaluate if the platform is the right fit.
Intershop, in 30 minutes, can show you how our e-commerce platform will accelerate your business through our live Demo.