12 Factors to Help You Choose an eCommerce Platform

12 Factors to Help You Choose an eCommerce Platform

Choosing an eCommerce platform is an important step for any business and it’s more complicated than many people realize. There is not just a one-size-fits-all platform that works for every business.

When you think about huge corporations compared to startups, the website needs these businesses have are going to be very different.

You can't just roll the dice and hope for the best option; there are a lot of aspects of a potential site that will help you determine which is the best fit for you. 

There are plenty of options that all have different features to offer, so before you make a decision, take these 12 factors into consideration:

1) Budget

Decide on your budget from the beginning. Understand what you're able to spend according to what you'll need to narrow down the kind of site you want. While Open Source platforms are free, you may still need to hire someone to handle the installation. Think about all costs, not just the product price itself.

2) Product

What are you selling? Simple platforms may focus on things like digital downloads. If you're selling physical products, you may need features like inventory control, shipping options, and tax calculations. These demand a more feature-rich platform.

3) Variety

How many different types of products are you selling? If you're only selling a few types of merchandise, a Simple platform may be enough. If you have thousands of different types of products in your inventory, you'll want a more robust system.

4) Hosting

If you don't have a particular preference for site hosting, then a Hosted platform is just fine for you. If you have a preference or specific need, you might want to eliminate the Hosted platform right off the top.

5) CMS Integration

Hosted platforms often include CMS functionality. However, if your site already has its own CMS, you'll want to be sure it integrates smoothly with your eCommerce platform.

6) Customization

Hosted platforms are difficult to customize. While that's fine for many people, if your brand is known for a certain look or style, you'll want a platform that can meet your specifications. The more customizable, the higher the overall cost usually is, but custom is still the best option for those who want specific features or appearances.

7) Updates

Who will handle upgrades and updates? Hosted platforms usually handle this so you don't have to worry about it. With Open Source and other platforms, you usually have to deal with upgrades and updates yourself. Also think about which way your business is going to go in the future. Will you be able to upgrade a platform to expand with your business?

8) Support

What kind of support do you need? Open Source will have you relying, more of than not, on forums and user communities for support (unless you pay for a company that provides support). Hosted platforms charge a monthly fee that, while adding to the bottom line, allows them to provide a high level of support. 

9) Reporting

To maximize profitability, you need to see what kind of reporting your platform does. The capabilities vary from one option to the next, so be sure to take a good look at this.

10) Checkout

Lengthy, complicated checkout processes can frustrate customers, especially those using a mobile device. Look for an option that has a simple transaction process. This is where custom platforms really shine, as you can tailor the checkout procedure to your needs.

11) Dashboards

It's important that this feature is robust but also simple. You want your dashboards to show important data, but also be easy to use. The harder this tool is to use, the less likely you are to use it, which leaves you with less information about your business. 

12) Mobile

Sales from mobile commerce will reach $38 billion this year. With more and more people shopping online, it's increasingly more important that your platform adapts to mobile devices. Whether that's built in to the platform, or a custom mobile experience, it's an important factors to think about when choosing a platform. 

Once you’ve considered these questions about your product and business, made decisions about dashboards and mobile optimization, you’ll be in a much better position to make a choice on your eCommerce platform. 


Photo Credit: SCFiasco via Compfight cc

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