Do you know how to choose the right e-commerce platform for you? So, there you are, if not… Choosing an e-commerce platform can be difficult. There are many options available, each with different benefits designed to help you best.
Every developer has their preferred transition option, based on software and stability. You are, though, looking for the whole package. How do you understand all this? How do you choose the best e-commerce platform for your business?
There are two directions you can take when choosing a platform. Do you want hosted or open source software? (Let’s go ahead and assume that no one wants a monopolistic system that you can’t change on a whim. Although there are sure to be some. Technology loves to evolve in seconds.)
The hosted solution is a service e-commerce Which you subscribe to and provide you with a control panel to create an online store and several tools that help you manage your store professionally. Then you build your store within an online system. This is similar to other web-based programs, such as Salesforce or Google Docs.
The benefit of a hosted e-commerce solution is its ease of use. Setup and getting started is very easy. You still have to make an effort to learn how to use the system and customize it as you like. But the technical hurdles are much lower than software installation and design.
There are some downsides to this solution. At some point, you will hit a barrier in the system. He will not be able to handle something specific. Since the source code is inaccessible, system changes are impossible. So you are stuck with a difficult choice. Are you learning to live without the exact feature you want? Or do you switch platforms all together?
Switching platforms is very complicated. For starters, it takes a significant investment of time. It has got a good ranking. You have become aware of your customers and how to serve them better with this system.
Moving your store to a new platform becomes a very disruptive process. In extreme cases, the results can be disastrous. We often see this happen when this step is not planned as it should be, or when a good consultant/developer is not used.
Some of the most popular hosted e-commerce solutions include:
Software based methods come in E-Commerce Also in two dominant styles. There is dedicated software built from the ground up (also called proprietary software). There are also ready-made systems that you can customize.
Custom e-commerce systems used to be the norm. Off-the-shelf offerings lacked robust development and had no useful features available. Fortunately, shows have evolved over the years. It is now rare to see a dedicated system in place. Well, unless you have less than 20% overlap between your needs and the best off-the-shelf option. Another scenario would be a highly secure application. A system with publicly available source code may not be used, due to company policy or mandate.
There are hundreds of e-commerce platforms available in every language. Ruby, PHP, .NET and even Perl/CGI are there waiting for your help. How do you choose the best for your business?
The best way to start is to see if you or your developers like the technology. Making that decision first will whittle down dozens of options. Now your list of possibilities is much more manageable.
Now, look at the remaining most used platforms. The more momentum a system has, the more popular it will be. The more popular it is, the more developers will support it, and the longer it will last. Even after developing a stronger platform, popular systems maintain their position. They continue to have the most popular add-ons, extensions, support, and developers available.
Not every solution will have the same community support as Magento. But, Magento will give you a good benchmark of what’s possible. It is used by more than 200,000 organizations and that number continues to grow. There are over 500 extensions available. Thousands of developers who can build and support Magento stores do.
Look at the functionality of the platform and any extensions they may have. See how close you are to getting what you need without custom development. This will save you time and money. The more active the extension market for a product, the better.
Check out the software demo as well. One of them must be available for both the client and admin area. Customer areas tend to be similar, but management areas can vary a lot. Log in and browse the standard tasks. Work through adding/editing a product and processing an order.
Learn what it’s like to view reports and customer segmentation. You’ll be living inside this system for a while, so make sure it’s easy to use — and that you like it.
Marketing is important when selling online. First, look at how well the platform has set up organic rankings. Check things like suitability URLs for the product. How clean is the source code? See how well customer sites rank for product-specific terms.
You can always improve your site’s ability to rank well. But, the better the tools are out of the box, the further ahead you will be.
Check out the top sites that use each platform. This may take some digging. However, many platforms will proudly list their banner customers. For example, Magento will not hide the fact that it works with Vizio, Nike, and The North Face, to name a few.
Look at reviews and locate forums for a specific product. Go to the forums and find issues, complaints, and reviews.
Every product will have some technical issues and people complain about it. Try to feel the community atmosphere. Note whether the company responds to complaints, problems, and suggestions. If a company does not offer a user forum, this is usually a red flag.
With this approach, you should be able to narrow down your options from hundreds to just a few pretty quickly. Do your homework. Transferring to a new platform later is disabled. Whatever direction you decide to go, be confident in your choice. Don’t freak out about the decision.
If you choose something successful and public, you won’t break your business. In our experience, things like marketing, customer service, promotions, descriptions, photos, prompt delivery, finding a niche, and creating loyal customers deserve more of your attention.
Now, do you know how to choose the right e-commerce platform for you?
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