E-commerce platforms come in all sizes and shapes. It is not easy to determine upfront which platform is going to suit you and your business best. That is why below you will find ten questions that will help you choose the right e-commerce platform.
So to speak you you could start the same day with selling online products by using e-commerce software. However, with the relatively complex e-commerce solutions it might take longer to start selling. Be aware of the implementation time, but also of the time it takes to arrange the webshop. Making product photos, writing product descriptions, creating and filling pages, and arranging the payment process are very time consuming tasks.
A perfect webshop looks good and is functional. Especially for new visitors it is important that they feel ‘at home’ in your webshop. Therefore, take into account your target group when you start searching a new platform. Nowadays webshops ought to be responsive, in order to give your visitors optimal ordering convenience. Moreover, search engines like Google include the level of responsiveness of websites, this results in the findability of your webshop.
With product catalogs (the PIM-system) you can add product descriptions and attributes to your products. So basically, a PIM-system is the heart of your webshop. Do you work for a wholesaler and you want to be able to offer a wide variety of products? Then choose a flexible PIM-system, so you can add the most thorough descriptions to your products. Do you only offer one type of product range, like greeting cards on Greetz.nl? Then a flexible PIM-system is not as necessary.
In order to present your products in your webshop as well as possible, you will need pictures and videos. For this a central mediabank (DAM-system) is used. The system enables you to manage, organise, secure, and save your images and videos (digital content). A good DAM-system distinguishes itself by the number of functionalities it offers. I am here talking about functionalities such as sharing, management features, types of data files, speed, and the ability to deliver reports.
57% of the visitors leave a webshop when they have to wait 3 seconds or longer for a page to load. A fast loading times is thus essential for - especially new - visitors. How fast the loading time is, is partially depending on the architecture of the e-commerce platform. Naturally hosting also plays a significant role.
With just an e-commerce package you are not there yet. Especially not if you wish to generate new business. You, for example, need software for email marketing to attract new visitors to your webshop, a CRM-system for visitor information, and an ERP-system to save financial data. Linking existing systems also belongs to the possibilities. Here you can think of your current ERP- or CRM-system. Besides you want to be able to retrieve your products on large marketplaces like Amazon or Bol.com in order to display your products. Therefore, ask yourself which software you think you will need or if some systems can be integrated in the e-commerce platform of your choice.
E-commerce websites, just like ‘normal’ websites, need to be hosted. Some suppliers offer the hosting costs as part of the total package. See this as a cloud model, in which everything is taken care of for you. Other suppliers install this on the internal server at your office, in this case you will be personally responsible for maintenance. Be aware of the wide range of different price tags.
Also check the possibilities how you can market your products. Think of cross- and upselling within the webshop, social media, landings pages, possibilities for the use of content and email marketing, inspiration pages, and promotions. Some platforms offer more functionalities than others.
In terms of costs you can make it as cheap and as expensive as you want. It is possible to start with open source software or directly with a complete e-commerce package. More importantly is to determine beforehand how much you want to spent per month on a software package. Keep in mind hosting and transaction costs, and version updates.
Finally, you want good findability for your products in Google. Some platforms offer more options than others. Think, for example, of search terms, Google Analytics implementation, monitoring visitors, chat systems, and lead generators. Also simultaneously use your webshop as a generator for new business.