5 Things to Look Out For of When Selecting a New Ecommerce Platform

Whilst everyone might love to have for the features of an industry-leading platform like IBM Websphere, the reality isn’t like that. Not only might it be way too costly, the setup and day-to-day management might be way beyond organisational capability. Also, it makes no sense at all to spend masses of time and money on an ecommerce platform you’ll only use a fraction of, or that’s over-complicated for your processes.

The following are examples of things that will affect your platform selection process:

Your budget
Your type of product
Your CMS and CRM needs
Your in-house skills
How many product categories
Merchandising & promotional needs
Your on and offline channels & international markets
The number of site visitors & customers
Current business processes, and how set in stone these are
What kind of reports you want to output
Your scale of operation & platform touchpoints
3rd party systems to be integrated
Your preferred service model of the provider agency
The structure and type of data that passes through all your system/s
Here’s a look at 5 of these:

Available Budget
There’s no point looking at IBM Websphere or ATG if you’ve only got £15k. Make sure you focus in the correct cost ballpark first off so as to avoid major disappointment. Try not to get ‘featuritis’ though, it’s much more about broader strategy than bells and whistles feature-wise, so just ensure you cover your important basics well, build a good, solid foundation and take it from there.

Type of product
Sometimes not considered: mostly people just expect a system to work for all products equally well. For example, do you sell an expensive item that you require a deposit for? Or a product that comes in 15 different sizes and has multiple attributes for each? Some ecommerce platforms don’t like these and so you’ll need to be aware of the nuances of different systems. It’s sometimes viable to change the way the system works but often you’re better off looking at a different one – see Business Processes below.
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Business processes
If you work the way you do because of the ecommerce platform you used 8 years ago then now might be a good time to review this. Is it imperative you work this way? Moving to a brand new ecommerce platform might force you to take a good look at your processes and see what it might mean to change them. This is more likely a better option than changing the way software works! Or, if your processes are mission-critical you look around for ecommerce software that fits your processes exactly or that’s easily customisable.

In-house resource
If you’re a hands on business that likes to do a little bit in-house too, don’t go for a OS Commerce-based software if your core competency lies with java. Make sure you’ll be able to make the most of your key skills by selecting a platform you understand. Even if you choose a system from a proprietary agency you’ll be more aware of the nuances of the solution they are providing to you.

Touchpoints
A touchpoint can be anything from a social media channel to an entire order line operation. Make sure you understand where yours are, and do your utmost to spot any likely future ones on the horizon. Find out how fast your team can integrate a new one, and how easy it is.

The Ecommerce Network is a UK-based ecommerce consultancy business with a difference: I provide a free service for online retailers that want to re-platform or find a new ecommerce agency. I help online retailers and brands to understand, clarify and scope technology and service requirements and then broker relationships with suitable ecommerce agencies from a preselected roster. I also provide non re-platforming based ecommerce consultancy services on a paid for basis.

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