For retailers today, ecommerce is an essential part of doing business, and finding the right ecommerce solution could be the difference between success and failure. That risk factor is even more important early on when that online element is just getting moving.
Rather than dissecting each available ecommerce option and listing its pros and cons, I want to help you determine which options your ecommerce store is going to need over the long run. Once you’ve figured out what the right ecommerce solution needs to have to work for you, choosing one is easy.
There Are A Ton Of eCommerce Solutions
Fortunately, and occasionally overwhelmingly, the eCommerce space has developed a ton over the past 20 years. There are nearly as many different eCommerce solutions as there are eCommerce industries, which offers you the guarantee that something out there will be a right fit.
The toughest part is figuring out which options are right for your business and, more importantly, your brand. After all, every customer experience with your company is a branding opportunity, so making sure the right features, functions, and user experiences are in place is a big deal.
No eCommerce Solution Is One-Size-Fits-All
Don’t expect an ecommerce solution to work for you just because someone advertises it as “the best” or because it worked well for someone in a totally different industry. Deciding what works for you should be based on what best suits your needs.
The only way any ecommerce solution is a guaranteed fit is if it’s 100% customizable. Most aren’t, or if they are, they are cost-prohibitive for a company that’s in the early investment phases. Don’t get suckered by the “perfect for anyone” pitches.
What Features Does Your eCommerce Solution Need?
Based on that, here are six questions you need to answer to help determine what the right ecommerce solution must do to be a fit for your company.
Is It Easy To Use?
If you plan on having a successful online retail element to your business, your ecommerce solution must be easy to use. If it’s not, you can guarantee a limit on your success. Easy to use means less time spent learning it, and even less time spent training new employees to use it.
Look for an ecommerce solution whose interface is intuitive and user-friendly. Every step to managing your online store should make logical sense to just about any user, and locations for the most critical day-to-day functions should be obvious.
Is It Expandable?
Early on, your ecommerce solution’s basic components should be enough to get your online store going. Later, however, you may find a need for additional functions and features that you didn’t need before. Will your ecommerce solution support that kind of custom need?
Find an ecommerce solution that has an answer for just about any possible need. The more limited the expandability, the more limited your growth. Even if it requires custom software development, there should be a way to make your solution do what you need it to.
Having to find a new solution later because the one you use won’t support your needs is a bigger pain than searching for a more flexible ecommerce solution early on.
Can It Be Customized To Your Brand?
There’s nothing worse for a company than an ecommerce solution that looks “out of the box”. Every part of your brand needs to flow, and the look and feel of your online store is no exception.
Look for an ecommerce solution that can be fully customized. The colors and logo are interchangeable on most ecommerce platforms. What about the layout, fonts, and the tiny nuances that make the rest of your online presence unified? The right ecommerce solution should be totally brandable.
What Kind Of Support Exists?
Unavoidably, you will run into trouble with your ecommerce solution at some point. Something will confuse you, something could break, or something may get hacked. What are your options?
A good ecommerce solution won’t require you to pay extra to fix something that goes wrong. Maybe it will have customer support, maybe there is a whole “do-it-yourself” community, or maybe it will be simple enough to fix by experimenting a little.
Regardless of the method, don’t sign up for an ecommerce solution that makes you pay additionally for support. It should be part of your plan.
Is It Scalable?
This one should be obvious. At some point, you’re going to want your company to grow. Will your ecommerce solution be as effective at 20,000 visitors per month as it is at 20 visitors?
Scaling up is the worst reason to have to switch platforms. Make sure your ecommerce platform can painlessly grow with you, even if it requires a little work or a slight bump in cost. Most Software-as-a-Service options have growth plans, and self-hosted options should be capable of hosting on a cloud-based platform that scales just as effortlessly.
Is It Affordable?
Between hosting, software, and payment processing, there are a lot of costs involved with your standard ecommerce solutions. For most small businesses, budgets are limited. These two factors can be a huge clash that prevents long-term success.
So why would I save it for last? Most ecommerce solutions are, at the base level, affordable. But after you weigh everything above into the long-term cost, the affordability changes. Will you be able to keep your business online a year from now based on how much it costs you every month?
Answering this question is a little more about what you are capable of once your site is ready than it is the solution itself. Can you grow fast enough online, based on everything your ecommerce solution offers, to cover the costs?
The Right eCommerce Solution Is A Personal Fit
No matter which solution you choose, it’s the personal fit that will determine if you like it in the future. And, really, you can’t succeed with it if you don’t like it. Make sure that your ecommerce solution suits you and your method of working.
eCommerce is here to stay, and choosing to expand to the web is one of the best ways for a business to grow. Find the right ecommerce solution, and you’ll succeed on the web.