Choosing a new ecommerce platform can be one of the biggest technical decisions that a retailer can make. Price, support, hosting and popularity can all play a part in driving us towards or away from certain platforms, but all this information can often be overwhelming.
With so much at stake, it’s critical that you remain highly organized and systematic in your process. To help you make a decision, here are our top tips for you to consider when selecting an alternative ecommerce platform.
Will it scale?
An ecommerce website is only as good as its ability to handle peak traffic. As your website grows, it needs to be able to scale with minimal effort without compromising performance and user experience. When evaluating platform choices, look for businesses that are similar in size and profile to yours.
Is it hosted?
There are two major categories with ecommerce platforms: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted simply means that the company will host your store, while self-hosted means they will provide you with the software and then you source the web hosting. This isn’t too much of a hardship, but if you don’t want to do the extra leg work and want the added security, it may be best to select a hosted solution. Most of the technical details are done for you and you won’t need to worry about choosing a payment processor or worry about downtime. However, while you get a lot out of the box you are limited by the constraints of the platform and won’t be able to customize everything.
How much will it cost?
Budget is a huge consideration in every business decision, and selecting an ecommerce platform is no exception. Some platforms are free, while others (namely hosted) charge monthly or yearly fees dependent on factors like how many products you sell or how much traffic you generate. In addition to licensing and setup costs, you should also consider costs for maintenance and the expenses that come with integrations, workarounds and development contingency to get a clearer picture of how much it will cost you.
Will you be supported?
Selecting a new platform is a sticky, long term investment. As such, how well the system is supported and maintained should be a critical component in the selection process, however it can so often get overlooked.
Whether you’re an ecommerce expert or a novice, you might find you need help answering certain questions at some point. If you aren’t comfortable googling the answer, you may want extra support, i.e. an email or phone call, from your platform. The vendor should also be able to provide you with complete documentation from both a technical and operational perspective as well as knowledge resources such as how-tos, guides and video walk-throughs.
Will it integrate with third party software?
One area where the likes of Magento and Shopify excel over other open source systems is their integrations with external software. Customers want a smooth, frictionless online shopping experience, so it is essential to ensure that you are providing just that. By making sure that all of your tools are easily integrated into one platform, visitors will glide effortlessly through your site and you will have a more organized, stress-free experience.
Do your research
After you’ve considered all your options, take a look at other sites that are built using that platform. By searching products and adding them to your basket, you’ll get a good feel for how it works and the type of experience your customers will have. It will also allow you to look at things such as the number of images per product, how it looks on different devices and how the checkout flows.
There is a wide variety of options available when it comes to ecommerce platforms, but choosing the right one for you and your business can be tough and quite often requires a fair bit of research if you want to get it right. Cost, contract-length and support are all factors that should be considered, but there are others that could help you make that pivotal decision.
Connect with the community
Get involved in community forums and ask for support and tips from other users. You might want to find out things such as ‘How easy was the setup process?’, ‘Is the ecommerce platform easy to use?’, or ‘How much support do you receive?’. By taking into account all of the different advice and comments, you should be able to come to a conclusion about whether or not the platform is suited to your needs.
Loqate integrates with a wide range of ecommerce platforms, including Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. Discover more about our ever-increasing range of integrations.