How to Choose the Best Ecommerce Platform for Your Business
1. What kind of cloud do you need?
Cloud-based ecommerce platforms free you of the hardware, update, and maintenance costs generally associated with in-house solutions. What's more, by moving your business to the cloud, authorised users are able to freely access the same real-time customer, inventory, and business data from any location or device, enabling a seamless, unified operation. Simply put, embracing the cloud is a no brainer.
But what kind of cloud? There are many options available, and they may not all offer the same advantages. When choosing a cloud solution, be sure to find something secure. Cloud solutions in general offer improved security over on-premise options by making sure that data isn’t tied to a single desktop, laptop, or mobile device. However, maintaining your information remotely does not guarantee that it is totally secure. You need a cloud solution that relies on event monitoring to notify users whenever any action takes place. The cloud should also provide regular health checks to identify any flaws in the security, and use the most advanced encryption options to protect the data itself.
The best ecommerce platform should also be able to grow and change with your business. Consider choosing a cloud solution that uses multi-tenant architecture. Multi-tenant architecture describes systems where all users share the same software infrastructure. In a multi-tenant environment, maintenance and upgrades affect all users, and all users have access to the same core set of services.
Still unsure? Download our guide to choosing the best cloud solution.
2. What kind of support do you need?
Choosing an ecommerce cloud solution means choosing a vendor. But just as different platforms offer different capabilities, different vendors likewise offer different levels of service and support. When you need help getting the most out of your ecommerce platform, the vendor is — or should be — your best resource.
How much support do you require, and what kind? Tech support, including installation and integration, is probably the most common type of support. But what about once everything is up and running? Do you need help optimising your system to meet your specific needs? Do you have a clear grasp on what those needs are, and how best to pursue your goals? Would you like advice about new features, or support exploring new markets or channels? Depending on how much assistance you think you’ll need, consider choosing a cloud provider that offers in-depth, ongoing support and consultation options.
3. What kind of relationship do you want with your customers?
4. Do you plan to expand internationally?
Every business wants to grow, but how much growth are you anticipating? If your plans take your business beyond the borders of your home country, then you’ll need an ecommerce platform that can keep up.
International-capable platforms make it possible to manage multiple sites tailored to multiple locations, cultures, and languages. These ecommerce platforms focus on easy implementation and centralised management so that as your company grows, you’ll be able to quickly and easily introduce new buying options to new audiences around the globe. Growth should not slow you down, and your ecommerce platform must be able to scale and adapt easily without skipping a beat.
5. How personalised do you want the customer experience to be?
As we’ve already touched upon, shoppers like to be treated like people, not numbers. To understand every customer personally, you need an intelligent system that can consume real-time customer data and respond to shopper behaviour on an individual level. In other words, you need artificial intelligence (AI). Personalised shopping powered by AI is the future of commerce, and you need to get on board or risk being left behind. In fact, 28% of companies already use AI, and 41% have plans to integrate it within the next two years.
AI make it possible to collect and analyse massive amounts of customer information without all the heavy lifting associated with big data. AI is then able to product actionable insights based on this data, such as personalised recommendations, content, and search results tailored to every customer. The result? Highly individual one-to-one shopping experiences that adjust with every click, in real time.
While artificial intelligence may sound intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Look for an ecommerce platform that offers easy-to-implement features with AI baked right into the platform.
6. Are you equipped to embrace mobile shoppers?
This one is less of a “consideration” and more of a foregone conclusion: if you want your ecommerce business to succeed, you must become a mobile-first brand.
Mobile commerce has already outpaced traditional desktop shopping, and is quickly becoming the prefered method for customers to interact with businesses. In fact, mobile ecommerce is expected to account for $284 billion by 2020, making up 45% of the total U.S. ecommerce market.
7. What kind of an ROI should you expect?
To truly understand an ecommerce platform’s potential return on investment (ROI) potential, consider the following questions: What’s the average time to market and time to value? How agile is the platform, and how well does the vendor keep up with patches and updates? How is the revenue performance? Are there any known security issues? Are there any additional IT costs that can be expected?
Bottom line, if an ecommerce solution looks like it could end up costing you more than it will bring in, you need to find something else.
Every business is different. As such, no single ecommerce platform is guaranteed to be the best option for every organisation. However, by considering these core requirements, you’ll be able to find the right solution for your brand. After all, ecommerce is a highly competitive market, and settling for anything less than the right platform isn’t even worth considering.