For those organisations considering moving to a new platform, apart from the obvious arguments such as budget or the “three second or less” rule for page loads, there are other important elements to bear in mind when choosing an e-commerce solution.
The business model
Your e-commerce website must meet the needs of your business model. This could involve for example a complex system of tariffs or a very simple model, in which case almost any platform will work. Complex business models require a more elaborate approach that can handle for example different tariffs, multiple invoicing methods and industry specific rules and regulations.
The solution publisher and service provider
Choosing the right e-commerce solution also involves assessing your solution publisher by looking at the company size, their vision, strategy, customer base, roadmap, ecosystem and community of partners mastering the solution. In addition, it is also important that you choose a service provider that can advise you when it comes to investing in the right software and its implementation.
The level of your organisation’s digital maturity refers to how well your business environment has adapted to the digital ecosystem. Some businesses are brick and mortar stores with an e-commerce platform. Other organizations do not have any physical stores at all; or they may have started out as a web shop and moved to brick and mortar later. Choosing the right e-commerce solution involves ensuring your platform is aligned with how digitally mature your business is.
One question you should ask yourself before choosing your e-commerce platform is the following: “Does the out of the box functionality provide me with more than 80% of the functionality that I require initially?” As Jason Bramsden, Chief Operation & Technology Officer at SQLI UK, IRE & ZA, points out: ‘We always recommend that customers start by implementing a minimum viable product for their e-commerce site. In other words, they should minimise the customisations that they require in the early stages, to allow them to launch quickly and understand the new platform before more complex changes are implemented.”
Consistency across channels
Customers do not see or think in channels. They expect to be able to find the same type of information everywhere and have the same customer experience everywhere too. At first, they may check out product information on a mobile app. Then they may go to a website and find totally different information about the very same product. This lack of consistency leads to confusion or disengagement. It is therefore important to be able to share the same data across all channels, including your e-commerce platform.
According to Jonas Carlström, Digital Marketing Specialist at Star Republic, SQLI Group: “One way of gaining a competitive edge is to set up your digital experience platform for online marketing.” This will enable you to:
- Add plugins for tracking
- Use tracking codes to tell you which social adverts your orders are coming from
- Drive the right traffic to the right offers
- Automatically update product feeds on social media.
Your platform should be designed in a way that enables it to evolve as your business grows. If for example you are currently handling €100,000 worth of online business and you plan to raise this to €500,000 over the next five years, your platform should allow you to be able to achieve this. Any factors that may prevent you from achieving this goal should be discussed early on as the scalability of your software will impact your future growth.
Any type of e-commerce platform will constantly evolve to include new features, new functionalities, new payment gateways and new ways of doing business. The platform you choose must be able to support these changes.
When setting up an e-commerce platform for several markets, it can be tempting to set up the e-commerce site in one country and then “copy and paste” it for other markets. However, such a method is particularly time consuming and costly because updates need to be duplicated for each market.
This challenge can be solved by creating a core system which centralizes all development activity, enabling you to share it with any market as and when it is required.
In practice, when a new feature is developed, an update of the core system takes place and the deployment can be applied to all local sites. Consequently, markets are free to activate it or not for their own local geography.