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January 6, 2020

Choosing an ecommerce platform in 2020

Lee Smorthit

We work with the world’s most powerful platforms. These are just some of the projects we’ve worked on.

The best ecommerce platform for your business is one that provides the technical efficiency and robustness to ensure you reach your ecommerce objectives. 

Your ecommerce platform is the lifeline of your online store. It has the potential to be your businesses greatest source of revenue. The need to get it right the first time is paramount. But you know that already. 

That’s where this snappy article comes in. Take these 8 things into consideration, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the best ecommerce platform for your brand.

The wider ecommerce ecosystem

 

When choosing a platform, or re-platforming altogether, you have an opportunity to reassess your daily activities and internal processes to determine if there are other systems that will better facilitate your project requirements. The more you can offload tasks to technology, the more your ecommerce team can recover their most valuable asset: time. 

However, be wary of replacing multiple business-critical systems simultaneously, as this will substantially increase project risks. Plus, some things deserve a human touch. 

Your team of champions

 

When it comes to ecommerce, your team are the experts. Take advantage of their experience to unlock growth in the business. Breakdown your staff skills and identify the potential for further investment in staff training or team development. Take a “no shame” approach to these discussions. It’s ok not to have all the skills under the sun. Encourage them to reflect on past experiences to better inform who is best suited to your new platforming project. 

Invest in your team and watch your platform soar.

Your payment plan

 

Don’t budge when it comes to budget. Remember, your platform is the heartbeat of your ecommerce, so it is not unusual to find that the budget is anywhere up to 20% of annual online revenue.

There are many factors that will affect the amount that is desired to be invested. From previous success, the business values and culture, the brand image and vertical. However, when thinking about budget remember to consider cover all the costs: the costs of maintenance, further development, and software licensing costs (core platform and products). 

Design & experience

 

As a CX-led agency, this is our most important consideration: your customers’ (and colleagues’) experience with your online platform. This is a good discussion point when talking to agencies, as the best ones will create their own suite of modifications that improve on the core design of the platform based on their experience. 

Consider:

  • Is your preferred platform mobile friendly? 
  • Can you test your site of different devices?
  • How responsive is your design? Is it easy to understand or navigate?
  • What additional features can be incorporated? E.g. offline support or push notifications.

Which leads us nicely onto our next consideration…

What features are available from add-ons?

 

Add-ons are often created in response to the limitations of a platform.  They are designed to complement the platform you use and to provide new, useful ways of enhancing the experience your customers have on your site. 

Take the time to look at reviews and at the age of the extension required. Once found, do not be afraid to spend more money on a higher quality extension. The worst-case scenario is one that leaves you sinking money into a bug-filled extension rather one that costs more but delivers a higher return. 

Support & training

 

Support and training from the platform helps to maximise the value realised from it. Most platforms have thorough support or training services to help your staff get up to speed quickly. You want to avoid the platform being underutilised due to a lack of familiarity or knowledge. 

Get the most of their resources: online tutorials, how-to-guides, best practice blogs. You should encourage your staff to ask for help, and ideally source a platform that includes this training for free. 

Performance & scalability

 

Performance and scalability can be difficult factors to evaluate and compare across platforms. In terms of simple definitions, we consider performance to be how fast the site is and scalability being how many customers the platform can handle simultaneously. 

The general rule of thumb: for self-hosted software, the quality and size of the hosting setup is going to dramatically affect performance and scalability. Whereas hosted “cloud” platforms that support automated scaling can have an advantage here of providing high scalability out of the box.

Some questions to ask:

– How does the platform approach performance scalability? 

– What sort of delay will there be before changes are reflected? 

– Is it safe to make changes around peak periods?

Choosing an agency

 

Choose Space 48. Job done.

In all seriousness, finding an agency to fit the business and the team is almost as important as the platform decision. It goes without saying that an agency must have demonstrable experience with the platform you chose to use.

Meet a range of people within the agency – from the solution specialists to the technical architects –  to truly understand the capabilities of the in-house team and to get a better feel for their approach and culture. You’ll be working with them often, you need to be on the same page.

And… that’s it. Choose your platform. Or get in touch with us and we’ll expand on the points a bit more thoroughly!