eCommerce sales are rapidly growing with time. This calls for an opportunity for enterprises to invest in building their eCommerce business and benefit from the booming industry.
In 2019, retail eCommerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. — Statista
One of the most important tasks during the initial stages is to zero in on an eCommerce solution. But, to make the choice from among numerous options that are available can be taxing.
The eCommerce solution you settle on should meet business expectations by providing optimal quality and service. While everyone has their opinion and preference, the final choice should always be based on intensive research.
So, before you plunge into the digital commerce journey, never hesitate from asking the following critical questions around eCommerce solutions.
Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing an eCommerce Solution
Weighing the pros and cons of eCommerce Solutions becomes a tiresome task when every provider out there promises to be the best. There are so many factors to ponder upon, and the dilemma tends to multiply.
Let’s untangle the mess for you, so that you can make a data-informed decision over a data-driven decision.
Question 1 — What is your Short and Long-term Vision for your eCommerce Business?
Having a clear understanding of your short-term and long-term business goals will help you analyze the available eCommerce solutions better.
What are the main factors to consider when developing an eCommerce presence? Should you be hiring a team of developers? Or are you looking for a ready-made solution that requires no management? Will you be expanding the business globally, or does it only pertain to a limited geographical boundary? Are you looking for a B2C or B2B eCommerce solution?
The right strategy would be to have a MoSCoW method in place for prioritizing requirements. It arranges business goals based on must-have, should have, could have, and won’t have parameters. Here’s an illustration.
Running through every question in detail and having a well-formulated answer will put some light on eCommerce success factors. Also, when you know your business requirements, you can decide as to which solution is intended for what business scale.
Here’s an overview of the popular eCommerce platforms with respect to business requirements.
- Magento – For businesses with access to website developers (in-house or third-party)
- Shopify – Suitable for boutique shops looking for a plug-and-play solution
- BigCommerce – eCommerce solution ideal for small businesses
Putting it in simple words, a business needs to understand their target customers and their target market thoroughly and then work their way backward.
This can be achieved by conducting stakeholder meetings, user reviews, surveys, and several brainstorming sessions with different departments in your organization.
Question 2 — Which eCommerce Solutions are Popularly Used?
Analyzing the established market players and the features they offer could be a safe play here. What works for those that are operating in a similar eCommerce environment as yours? In case you are an already established business and thinking of migration, analyzing other eCommerce businesses with alternative solutions would be useful.
If you look at the comprehensive review of the eCommerce solutions, you’ll have a better understanding of what platform is occupying most of the eCommerce market.
For example, here are the Gartner reviews for the following eCommerce solution providers.
But, you certainly don’t know what the business needs of the reviewers were. While the number of websites running on Shopify might be higher, the important question is — Is it the right platform for your business needs? Are you capable of the investment they demand? Running a one-on-one comparison can be a useful strategy here. For example, here is what the comparison results of Shopify vs Magento say.
This gives a vague idea about the popularity of platforms. However, it is important to go the extra mile and research intensively for a more comprehensive view of their services, features, and subscription plans.
Question 3 — What Level of Agility do the eCommerce Solutions Provide?
Technology is continuously evolving, and so is the eCommerce landscape. From advanced functionalities such as data analytics to offering omnichannel experience, you can’t afford to leave either out. Because connected customer experience is significantly driving digital commerce strategy today.
In a survey of 1,000 consumers in the United States, 80% of respondents said they’d stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer experience.– Hubspot
If your eCommerce business does not manage to embed these eCommerce trends, you’ll be losing out on business.
So, it would be imperative to seek answers for — Does the preferred provider offer a custom eCommerce solution? Are newer technologies integrated from time-to-time? Are there enough extensions and plugins that can be integrated into your website?
This will significantly help trim down your choices and drive your emphasis towards a solution that will cater to the service expectations of your consumers.
If you are already leveraging Magento as your solutions partner, migration to Magento 2 should be a part of your strategy too.
Magento is ending its support to its traditional version this year, which makes migration a measure of agility. Migrating to Magento 2 can scale up your game-plan. Like it did for Legend Footwear, one of our clients.
How Net Solutions Helped Scale-up Legend Footwear’s Magento 2 Store
Legend Footwear, a London-based eCommerce business, reached out to us for customizing their Magento 2 store. The objective was to offer better customer experience to their users. Leveraging the power of a fully-loaded Magento platform, we were able to work through the major issues that the website was facing.
Not only the customizations helped enhance the speed and performance of the website, but we also helped them optimize the images for a better overall experience. Our team of developers left no stone unturned in optimizing the mobile eCommerce experience, along with enabling a fast and secure checkout.
For a more in-depth insight, here’s the case study.
Question 4 — Does the Solution Provide Data Analytics Capabilities?
Data analytics is a tool that aids in mining customer data to offer meaningful insights that further helps in making informed decisions. Such analytics also help in customer journey mapping across touchpoints and channels, which is essential for eCommerce businesses today.
It significantly helps in identifying customer pain points, so that the broken experiences can be mended and personalized experiences can be offered. It would be ideal for an eCommerce business to look for an eCommerce solution that has inbuilt data analytics capabilities.
Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine. – Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President, Gartner Research
Inference — Invest in an eCommerce solution that has advanced data analytics capabilities. The key is to research extensively to find whether the eCommerce solution extracts all the required information into a data repository or not.
Likewise, you can run a review for other preferred eCommerce solution development partners before settling on one of them.
Question 5 — What is your Budget and What Plans do the eCommerce Solutions Offer?
What you pay to the eCommerce solution partner depends upon your business and functional requirements. Almost every available solution has different plans to cater to those needs.
You would have to analyze your shortlisted solutions on this basis – What are the different eCommerce plans available? What features and functional requirements does each of them cover? What is the level of ongoing costs?
Not only will it help analyze your budget constraints, but it will also help trim down your options further. For example, what do you think it will take to create, run, maintain, and secure a Magento platform? Here are some cost factors to consider.
Even if you go with the open-source eCommerce solution for Magento, you would have to invest in enabling other features and functionalities. In other words, you would also have to focus on other factors that decide the overall cost plan. Here’s an overview.
- Themes – $60 – $100
- Third-party Extensions – $1000 – $1500 for 10-15 extensions
- Shared Hosting – Between $10 to $25 per month
- Virtual Private Server – Between $60 to $300 per month
- Dedicated Hosting – Up to $2000 per month
- Cloud Hosting – Up to $4000 per month
- Maintenance and development – Between $150 to $5000
There is no one-time cost as the overall expenditure depends on the customizations you choose, developers you hire, hosting plan, and other ongoing expenditures.
Choosing an eCommerce solution for your business is a big decision that demands time and research. You and your team would have to navigate through every aspect of the decision process before finding a match for your business requirements.
Take your time, analyze your eCommerce goals and requirements, conduct brainstorming sessions, run through features, agility, analytics capabilities, the popularity of available solutions, and the cost of setting up and running your business.
In the end, it is all about planning, strategizing and making an informed decision in setting the right foundation for your eCommerce business.