The Secret to Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform for Your Business.
The process of selecting an eCommerce solution can be overwhelming — especially if you’re launching your first online store and aren’t sure exactly which features you will need.The good news is that the secret to choosing the right platform lies in the questions you ask prospective vendors.
Not sure where to start? We’ve crafted a list of key questions that will make the selection process easier for you and ensure that you make the right decision.
- How much technical expertise is required?
How comfortable are you working with code? Can you afford to hire a programmer? If you have little to no technical skills, you’ll want to stick with a platform that’s easy to set up and maintain, that comes with reliable technical support and offers features that will help you grow your business.
From design features and payment integrations to data security, hosting service types and the software maintenance procedures included in your arrangement, you should make sure the platform you choose matches your level of online expertise.
- How long will it take before my site goes live?
Depending on the extent of your product offering, building a custom online store can involve a large amount of design and code development — both of which take time. The right eCommerce platform should allow you to get your products to market within days, if not hours. So, the question is, how necessary is all that behind-the-scenes work?
If you’d like to get up and running quickly, you need a platform that lets you easily import and export products, offers product variations (sizes, colors, material) and product bundling. You should also have the ability to create a variety of product groupings so that customers can use a number of different search filters.
- What built-in marketing and sales tools are available?
Your goal may be to launch an outstanding, user-friendly website, stocked with the finest products; however, none of these elements guarantee that shoppers will flock to your online store. Your eCommerce platform should provide you with basic tools to drive traffic and conversions, such as SEO tools to boost search ability, A/B testing functionality to help improve UX as well as promotion and product suggestion features. Other useful components include CRM tools to help collect manage customer data and manage relationships, a blogging platform and Live Chat to better engage site visitors.
- What design and customization features are available?
Of course, you want to launch an online store that not only looks great on any device, but that also effectively communicates your brand identity. To do so, you should have access to a variety of responsive templates and themes. For an even more customized experience, make sure the platform you choose easily integrates with third party applications.
- How scalable is the eCommerce platform?
Nothing beats watching your business grow. However, even in the early stages, you need to plan ahead and choose a platform that can grow with your business.
To avoid running into any unpleasant surprises down the road, ask prospective vendors whether they set restrictions on storage, bandwidth, number of products or skus. You should also check how easy it is to set up shipping methods, whether you can automatically generate packing slips and invoices, and link multiple stores to a common inventory.
- How easy is it to sell internationally?
The beauty of online retail is that it breaks down the borders that lie between you and your customers. If going global is part of your strategy, you should be looking for a platform that simplifies the international sales process.
You should find out whether the eCommerce platform you’re interested in can localize the customer experience for you, ask if it’s possible to set up multiple taxes and currencies and whether the front and back-end are available in different languages.
- What kind of integrations and third-party applications are supported?
Integrations and apps provide a variety of services that can add incredible value to your online store, so it’s worth it to find out what solutions your prospective providers integrate with. From accounting and loyalty to CRM, ERP software, reporting and shipping integrations, having access to a variety of add-ons can dramatically improve your workflows and improve the experience you offer your visitors.
- How much training and ongoing support can I get?
Starting a new business can be scary, especially if it involves using software you might be unfamiliar with. Make sure to select a service provider that you can rely on for training and ongoing support. Useful services include initial setup or onboarding sessions, training documents, webinars and whitepapers. As for post-setup support, check whether your provider offers it around the clock, via email, live chat or phone, and if they charge any additional fees.
- What are the reporting features like?
How can you improve business performance without knowing where you stand? Reliable and detailed reporting features are essential to the health of your business, so you should choose an eCommerce solution that can generate a variety of reports. From upcoming shipments and pending or completed orders to product performance, site traffic and conversion rates, the more data you have the smarter the decisions you’ll make.
Your choice of platform has a direct impact on the success of your eCommerce business, so be sure to do your share of due diligence before making any decisions. Keep these important questions in mind and you’ll be more likely to select a system that fully supports and enhances your business.
Ready to begin the selection process? Check out Lightspeed eCom — an eCommerce platform built that’s flexible, scalable and ready to use in as little as 30 minutes.
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