When choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business, you could just go on a recommendation alone. But how can you be sure it’s the right decision for YOUR business?
The same goes for running a full market assessment; you could educate yourself on what’s on offer and then independently make your own decision. But what small or medium-sized business really has the time and resources for that?
If you take these simple steps, you can get to an answer more quickly and have confidence in the decision you are making, whether you are choosing yourself or evaluating a recommendation from a partner.
What Are You Selling?
Documenting what you are selling and how you sell it will be useful later when assessing the best technology option for your business. Ask yourself questions such as:
What is the type of product?
- Physical goods (e.g. books, clothes, food and drink, etc.)
- Digitalgoods (e.g. software, e-books, downloads, etc.)
- Services (e.g. online bookings, tickets, subscriptions, etc.)
What category best describes your business?
B2C (Business-to-Consumer) - selling products and/or services directly to consumers (end users).
B2B (Business-to-Business) - selling products and services to businesses that are either the consumers, or are reselling the products and/or services to consumers.
Other - There are some other commerce categories, such as C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) and C2B (Consumer-to-Business) that could apply if neither B2C nor B2B accurately describe your business model.
How do your customers pay for your products/services?
Payment on order (e.g. credit/debit card)
Payment on invoice (with or without any deposit/prepayment)
Subscription (regular recurring payment/Direct Debit)
Narrow Down Your Research
While this level of pragmatism will erk some, there is a simple exercise you can start with to narrow down the eCommerce technologies you are looking at. For example, BuiltWith allows you to see the usage of eCommerce technologies in the UK right now. Here are two reasons why this is a great place to start:
You now have the benefit of other people’s decisions, which may well have been the outcome of a vendor assessment, such as the one you are embarking on.
By picking popular technologies, you are more likely to avoid issues in finding people with the right skills and experience to help you build and maintain your eCommerce platform.
Comparing Technology Options - a Light Vendor Assessment
It’s easy to get lost in web research, so before starting, you should always think about what you are comparing. Often people limit their comparison to the amount of functionality offered – whether or not they actually need it or will use it – and the price, of course. However, this doesn’t tell the full story and can skew the picture.
We typically use 8 categories when we are assessing eCommerce technology for a client but sometimes add others to reflect specific or priority requirements a business may have:
Branding and UI
How much scope is there to define and apply your business’ branding and create custom UI design and interactions?
Features & Functionality
How comprehensive are the features and functionality offered, and how flexible are they?
Integrity & Ecosystem
How well does the platform support/connect to other popular products/vendors through OOTB or custom integrations?
Content Management & SEO
How easy is it to create and manage content? How well SEO-optimised is the website/eCommerce platform?
Ease of Use
How easy is it to set up and maintain?
Fees and Pricing
How competitive are the pricing and fees to set up and run?
Scalability & Portability
How scalable is the platform? How portable is the solution?
How well rated is the provider for customer service?
These assessments have been done and written about thousands of times before, so don’t just rely on the vendor’s websites to assess the products. Instead, canvass opinions on the web in general, but like any opinion, look to a few different sources to ensure balance.
Final points before starting your research
Consider mapping some of your key requirements to help you focus your research and assessment.
Be careful not to be too specific and prescriptive with your individual requirements.
Score each option across each category 1-5 to give you an overall score for each technology option.
Remember, this is meant to be a light vendor assessment. Timebox your research and trust your best judgment when deciding scores.
Comparing Technology Options
Sometimes, even a vendor assessment lite can feel too onerous and costly. Perhaps another angle is needed to help make the final decision. It can also be useful to take a more top-down view of people’s opinions of the different technology options.
You can organise them as:
Not so good for
Find a Good Partner
It’s rare for small and medium-sized businesses to maintain the digital skills needed to build and maintain digital technology in-house, so good partnerships are crucial.
The steps and information outlined are intended to help you better understand and assess your eCommerce technology options. Whether you are running the process yourself or evaluating a recommendation from a partner, knowledge is power!
However, in the way that you would play to your own strengths, do the same with your partner. Many eCommerce platforms fundamentally do the same things – albeit slightly differently and with different strengths and weaknesses.
In the end, how you work together and apply the technology will likely have a more significant impact on your success than the technology itself.
Looking for a Digital Partner?
If you’re looking to explore your eCommerce options in more detail, develop an overall digital strategy and roadmap, or want a quote for the design and implementation of an eCommerce platform, then get in touch with us.
You can check out our software pages for the technology we love to implement, as well as our solutions pages to see how we fit them into businesses to make them really work.