Evaluating ecommerce platforms and software vendors isn’t easy. The good news is that you’re not alone in the quest to transform and grow your business. According to Ovum’s ICT Enterprise study, over 90% of businesses have digital transformation as a top item on board agendas.
The key to choosing an effective ecommerce platform for your business is to start by asking the right questions internally to define pain points and goals. 40% of CIOs state that unclear objectives are a primary reason IT projects fail – so it’s critical to get the internal steps right. Once the objectives are defined, a business is in a better position to ask the right questions of software vendors to evaluate which platform will best fit the business’s needs and help you reach your goals.
Here are 4 tips for effectively evaluating ecommerce platforms.
1. Know where your business is headed
When evaluating commerce platforms, it’s important to first understand where your business is headed and where you want to be, at least over the next 3 – 5 years. It’s important to take into consideration the following questions, which will help determine if a particular ecommerce platform will help guide you on your path to growth:
Is the platform modern enough to evolve with your business?
What will it cost to grow?
What will it cost to upgrade and adopt new features?
What will be the time, effort, and resource requirements to handle these criteria?
2. Define your customer experience vision
This critical element should be at the heart of ecommerce platform evaluation. It’s a common mistake to choose an ecommerce vendor and platform that meets business needs today, but fails to deliver in the future. The key factors here are the inherent flexibility of the platform and the full ecosystem of interconnected applications – not just ecommerce. This allows business and technical teams to create new customer experiences quickly per the ever-changing business and consumer dynamics.
3. Outline your top priorities for your new ecommerce platform
Every business has its own reasons for going down the path of ecommerce platform evaluation. Relentlessly focus on the main priority and hone in on the must-haves. These could include:
Total cost of ownership (TCO)
Support of multiple business models, i.e.: B2B, B2C, B2E
- IT stability
Improved mobile experience
Business user empowerment
A better vendor/business partnership
Developer innovation initiatives
4. Find the right fit
Most serious commerce platforms are feature and function rich, and continually release new features and functions with the big variable being the pace of new releases. But another key consideration is to understand the vendor’s core competencies, target audiences, and industry knowledge, such as:
Do they build for my business size, i.e.: SMB, the mid-market and/or the enterprise?
Do they build for my industry, i.e.: retail, manufacturing, CPG, communications, telecom, hi-tech?
The difference comes not just from the depth of functionality, but also the platform provider’s future roadmap. It’s a matter of vendor prioritization based on their target audience and industry focus.
For more in-depth information on choosing the right ecommerce software vendor, read Avoid Commerce Paralysis By 1,000 RFP Questions.