14 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Ecommerce Platform

Ecommerce Platform

Launching an ecommerce site used to be complicated and expensive. Today, there are plenty of ecommerce platforms that make it super easy to make a great website.

What ecommerce platform is the best? There is no magic answer. It depends on your company’s business model and needs.

Here are some things to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform for your business:

1. How is your business model set up and how does the ecommerce platform complement it?

Knowing how an ecommerce site will impact your current business model will make choosing a platform much easier. Are you B2C or B2B? If you sell a service, can it translate over the internet? How many variables impact your product pricing? Do you have the capacity to fill all orders coming from the ecommerce site?

2. Do you sell your own products or other brands’ products?

This is important to enable customers to search by brand.

3. What kind of image viewer do you need to be able to sell your products?

As mentioned in past blogs, how you get your images to your customer is one of the most important parts of the site. Images sell your product. What are the viewer functions? Consider alternate images, deep zoom, 360 – spin photography, thumbnail image generation, intuitive controls, branding, full HTML5 code for mobile support, custom look, color switching, video, and automatic image syndication.

4. How many people need access to the site?

The number of people who need to access to the platform dashboard will impact the cost. Also, you may want to check what restrictions you can put on users so they can’t see everything.

5. What third party programs must be compatible with the platform?

All ecommerce platforms have their own version of an “app store” to get additional third party plugins for your site. These plugins are very helpful. Just make sure they have the ones you need to successfully launching your site. Many plugins are free, but some are paid.

6. If you already have an ecommerce site, how easy it to transfer products?

Most platforms make it easy to import your products to their system because they want your business, but make sure you speak with someone about the steps you need to take on your end to make it an easy transition. If your product images and information are already loaded in Shotfarm, it is very easy to transfer or start on a new platform.

7. Is it full HTML5 code for mobile devices?

Smartphone sales are outpacing computer sales so it is very important that your platform is compatible with and user-friendly for mobile browsers.

8. What deals or promotions do you usually offer?

All platforms offer coupon codes or discount rules, but not all of them are the same. Some platforms have limited discount rules built into the system.

9. How is the price structure set up? Do they charge per transaction?

Most ecommerce platforms’ price structures similar. They’re usually on a monthly bases and typically include 4-6 package levels. Some factors that determine the package include the setup fee, number of products, staff logins, bandwidth, and data storage.

10. Do you sell your products through other online services?(e.g. Amazon, Ebay, Facebook)

If you sell through different online avenues, make sure they can sync with your ecommerce platform. These are usually listed in the “app store.”

11. Do they charge for different themes?

Ecommerce platforms usually have hundreds of themes to choose from and most are included with your package. However, some platforms will charge a one-time fee for a particular template.

12. How customizable is the site? Do you have full access or limited access?

Some sites give you limited access to the code to customize the site. This is fine in most cases, but if you want full access, check with the provider.

13. How are upgrades handled?

When the platform is updated, make sure your site can be easily upgraded at no additional cost.

What support and training do they offer? Is it included in the package?

Most ecommerce platforms offer free training classes or support. Confirm that these services are included or find out what packages are offered.

14. Some other suggestions:
Speak with owners of ecommerce sites that use the platform you’re considering. See what they like and don’t like about the platform. Go through the sales cycle of different ecommerce platforms to see what you like and don’t like. See what barriers come up and test the ease of the checkout process.

For more information on Ecommerce Platforms, check out these helpful resources:

Practical Ecommerce

Ecommerce Times