Choosing the Best Ecommerce Platform
for Your Business
With so many ecommerce platforms available, it can be difficult to choose which one is the right fit for your company. What works well for one business may not work the same for yours — there’s no “one size fits all” solution, after all.
To decide upon the best ecommerce platform for your company’s needs, ask these seven questions:
1. What kind of ecommerce platform does your business need?
Cloud-based ecommerce platforms free you from the costs of building, maintaining, and updating the hardware and infrastructure of in-house systems. Plus, when you move your company initiatives to the cloud, all authorized users will be able to freely access the same customer, inventory, and business data from any location or device, in real time. This kind of seamless and unified operation is why embracing an ecommerce platform is a no-brainer for most businesses.
But which ecommerce platform is the right one for your company?
When selecting the right solution, be sure to choose a secure one. While cloud solutions are more secure than on-premise options — as data isn’t tied to any single device — it’s not necessarily guaranteed that your information is totally secure. The best ecommerce solutions offer event monitoring, which notifies admins when any action takes place. Other security features offered by the best ecommerce platforms include regular digital health checks to identify security flaws and advanced encryption options to help protect your company’s data.
The platform you choose should also be able to grow and change with your business. For this kind of flexibility, you should consider an ecommerce solution that uses multi-tenant architecture. In a multi-tenant architecture system, every user shares the same software infrastructure. This way, all users have access to the same core set of services, and they all benefit from the same maintenance and updates.
BEST PRACTICE GUIDE
Your guide to commerce in the cloud.
2. What kind of support does your business need?
For B2C and B2B companies alike, buying an ecommerce platform instead of building your own means choosing a vendor. Buying a custom-built platform generally means more dedicated support and maintenance — but different vendors offer different levels of service.
Your vendor should be your key resource for getting the most value from your ecommerce platform. When choosing your vendor, ask these questions:
- How much support will you need — and what kind?
- Do you know what your company needs from its ecommerce platform?
- Will you need help optimizing the platform to meet your specific needs?
- Will you need instruction on how to pursue your goals within the platform?
- Would you like advice about new platform features?
- Will you need support as you expand the platform to explore new markets or channels?
Depending on how much support you’ll need, consider selecting an ecommerce platform vendor that offers options for in-depth, ongoing support and consultation.
3. What kind of relationship does your business want with customers?
Choosing the best ecommerce platform is vital to cultivating loyal and long-lasting customers. The average repeat customer, in fact, spends 67% more in their second to third year shopping with a business than in their first six months. Simply put, customer relationships don’t end after a purchase, especially for B2B businesses that rely on establishing long-term relationships with business buyers.
With the right platform, your company can deliver innovative and personalized shopping experiences to customers, and empower them with streamlined self-service that makes the buying process easy. This includes tools that allow you to engage with customers on social media, offer personalized content, and create easily accessible feedback channels. In addition, you’ll have the ability to carry on relationships with influencers, manage loyalty programs, and launch special events.
Be sure to choose an ecommerce solution that helps you see a 360-degree view of each customer journey.
4. Does your business plan to expand internationally?
If your plans include eventually taking your company global, you’ll need an agile ecommerce platform that’s set to grow with you.
An internationally-enabled ecommerce system can make it easier to extend your company’s digital footprint across various locations, cultures, and languages. As your company grows, you’ll be able to easily manage your new markets from a centralized hub and introduce new products all around the world.
Growth should never slow you down. Make certain to select the best ecommerce platform for your company’s international growth potential.
5. How personalized are your customer experiences?
Whether you are a B2C or B2B brand, today’s customers demand a personalized buying experience. To understand your customers on an individual level, you’ll need an intelligent, automated system that can generate valuable insights from consumer behavior in real time.
In other words, you’ll need artificial intelligence.
An estimated 28% of companies already use AI to streamline customer interactions, and an additional 41% have plans to adopt AI systems within the next two years.
AI easily collects huge amounts of customer data, which it analyzes and uses to produce actionable insights. Personalized content, recommendations, and search results all come from AI, creating unique one-to-one shopping experiences that adapt to B2C and B2B customers alike, in real time.
If the concept of AI sounds intimidating, don’t worry — it’s all under your control. To keep pace with industry trends and have powerful AI insights at your fingertips, choose an ecommerce solution with built-in, easy-to-implement AI features.
Discover the true impact of AI personalization.
6. Are you equipped to embrace mobile shoppers?
Mobile is quickly becoming the preferred shopping channel of most customers, B2C and B2B buyers alike. It’s already outpaced shopping on personal computers, and by 2020, mobile ecommerce will make up 45% of the total U.S. ecommerce market, accounting for an estimated $284 billion in revenue.
The best ecommerce platform is one that prioritizes mobile customer experiences. Choose a solution that helps you create mobile shopping interfaces that scale naturally to various screen sizes, gives you options to include push notifications and location-specific offers, and simplifies customer checkouts with auto-fill forms and single-touch payments.
7. What’s your potential ROI on an ecommerce platform?
To evaluate the return on investment (ROI) potential of any ecommerce platform, ask these questions:
- What’s the time-to-market and time-to-value?
- Is the platform agile and mobile-friendly?
- Does the vendor provide consistent updates?
- What’s the revenue performance like?
- Are there known security issues?
- Are there any hidden IT costs?
If your business serves B2B buyers, you can visit our ROI Calculator to estimate your return on investment when using Commerce Cloud.
The Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) of Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Each business will have different answers to these seven questions — but your answers should give your a clearer picture of what your business needs from its ecommerce platform to compete and succeed in the modern digital marketplace.
Learn more about Commerce Cloud by taking the Salesforce Trailhead, or read our B2B-specific guide for implementing an ecommerce platform.