If you’re new to the world of online retail, one of the first (and most overwhelming) questions you may be asking yourself is: how do I choose an ecommerce platform?
With so many options out there, how can you tell them apart? And what factors will determine which is the best solution for your business? Keep reading for an overview of where to start and the four questions you should ask yourself when selecting an ecommerce platform.
What is an ecommerce platform?
Let’s start by defining what we mean by an “ecommerce platform.” Also sometimes referred to as an ecommerce cart, your ecommerce platform is essentially the software that powers your online store. From storing product data and rendering it on the front end of your site to accepting payments and processing orders, your ecommerce platform is responsible for a significant amount of your store functionality and, ultimately, the smooth running of your business.
What are the most popular ecommerce platforms for online retailers?
A wide range of ecommerce platforms are available – big and small, basic and advanced. Within each leading media, you will also usually find several subscription tiers offering various functionality levels.
Some best-known platforms include BigCommerce, Shopify and Shopify Plus, Adobe Commerce, and Miva. You may have also encountered platforms like 3dcart, Hybris, WooCommerce, Volusion, etc. And, of course, some online retailers operate their custom-built platforms.
No one platform is objectively better than the others. Essentially, it’s about finding the best fit for you and your business.
4 Questions to ask when choosing an ecommerce platform
The best ecommerce platform for your store is the one that meets your current needs and objectives while also being equipped to scale with your business trajectory. These are the questions to ask when choosing the right platform for you.
What are your specifications?
Before you begin shopping around for an ecommerce platform, make a list of the precise specifications you need for your store. While almost all solutions come with certain functionality out of the box, it’s essential to consider any unique or advanced requirements you may have. For example, if you have products with multiple variations, how should that be handled on your site? Do you have particular pricing bundles or discounts that will need to be supported? What design customization will you require, and what merchandising controls do you expect? Identifying essential integrations to ensure the platform operates seamlessly with your other systems is also a good idea. By creating a checklist of must-have features, you’ll go into demo and sales calls well-prepared to assess the viability of each platform.
What technical capabilities do you have in-house?
Some ecommerce platforms are more user-friendly than others, especially regarding customization. This won’t be an issue if you have a dedicated team with the relevant technical skills in-house. But, if you’re running a tight operation with limited resources, you should emphasize your platform’s usability. Take full advantage of personalized demos and free trials from various providers, and make sure the person or people who will be managing your site feel comfortable with the interface you choose. Regardless of the in-house technical expertise, make sure to clarify the level of support you will have from the solution provider if you encounter difficulties.
What is your budget?
Make sure to read the small print when assessing the prices of different platforms. Not all packages are created equal. While one may seem vastly cheaper than another, it’s important to compare like with like to ensure you won’t incur additional costs to achieve your desired level of functionality and support. For example, are there any transaction fees? Are multiple payment methods included? While the ongoing subscription costs associated with a SaaS ecommerce platform may be off-putting, you should think carefully before pursuing a custom-built alternative. Custom platforms take time to get up and running and can be costly to maintain as your business grows. Do your research, delve into the details, and remember that the cheapest option isn’t always the most financially astute decision in the long run.
As someone looking to start an Ecommerce platform, you need to be careful about the pricing strategy. Ensure you are not opting for technology that puts much strain on your company’s financial resources. Checking volusion pricing, a leading name in the world of Ecommerce software technologies, can help give you a proper understanding of affordability and the value-for-money proposition. Since this will become a significant part of your overall financial expenditure and start-up costs, ensure that you get this right.
What are your plans to scale?
When you successfully scale your business, will your platform be ready to grow with you? Just because a particular provider seems perfect right now doesn’t mean it will still be a good fit if you drastically expand your product line or increase your traffic and sales volume. As well as checking the capacity to add more products, find out whether a more extensive catalog will lead to slower site speeds, for example. How much will it cost if you expand your team and require additional platform admins? When you’re ready to take your store to the next level, you don’t want to be held back by limitations within your platform.
Take your time to find the right ecommerce platform.
While choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business may seem daunting, it’s worth researching and getting well acquainted with the various features. Getting it right the first time will save you many headaches in the long run and help you avoid the stress of a platform migration later. Take your time, and remember, no platform is intrinsically “better” than another; it’s all about finding the right fit for you.