One of our commerce platform partners, Bill Tarbell of Workarea Commerce, was recently interviewed by Doug Hollinger on the Cuppa Commerce Podcast. One of the topics Bill spoke about was how retailers should go about selecting an ecommerce platform vendor. Bill made some great points that I would like to highlight in addition to some insights CQL has gained through our platform experience over the years. Below I’ve outlined four key questions retailers should consider when selecting an ecommerce platform vendor.
1) Do you have a defined and detailed evaluation process?
Bill suggests that each retailer define a credible and transparent process before they begin. Having internal alignment across your team and decision makers on the selection process and evaluation criteria will create a goal your team can rally around.
2) What functionality is required at launch and what can be implemented over time?
As a Systems Integrator, we come across a lot of retailers that want their website to incorporate all their wish list items at launch, instead of taking a phased integration approach. Bill says, “It is important to discuss the problems that will be solved by launch and the problems you want to solve in the next 1, 3 and 5 years.” We work with our clients to help them launch, stabilize and optimize their sites by creating a roadmap to meet their business objectives over time. It is important to clearly define these requirements before entering the vendor selection process. Having defined requirements will create transparency across all vendors and will help them determine what is out of the box functionality and what is custom.
3) How lean is your team?
A successful vendor selection should take into account what you want your internal ecommerce team to look like after launch. At CQL, we call this the Modern Ecommerce Team which is a combination of the right tools, processes and people. Most retailers’ ecommerce teams not only have technical and development resources, they also include digital marketers, merchandisers, and designers. When you make a platform decision, consider how that is going to affect your internal team. Will you need to add additional resources, or can your current staff utilize the tool with success?
4) Does the vendor have similar values and culture?
Selecting a vendor is a long-term commitment. As a Systems Integrator of ecommerce platforms, we have the same conversation with our clients about building partnerships that last post-launch. Building a successful partnership works best when there is a relationship and culture fit. Bill said it this way, “Our business will only work if the right people pick our product and are happy with us for the long term.” I totally agree with Bill’s point. Asking questions about the vendor’s experience, delivery and references will give you great insight into the vendor’s values and culture
There are many factors to consider when selecting the right ecommerce platform for your business. These questions hit on some key areas that are often missed by retailers during the selection process. We hope these considerations, along with a thorough evaluation process, will help guide you in your platform selection process.