By: Tore Gustafson

Date: September 14, 2016

Selecting the right ecommerce platform is a challenging decision. With so many options it can be hard to discern which solution is the best fit for your business; from budget, design and development support to unique functionality, expected revenue, and ongoing maintenance and fees the list of criteria seems endless. While considering many options the different ecommerce platforms provide is very important, perhaps the most important consideration is how different solutions handle some of the basic nuts and bolts of handling an online transaction.

When selecting the right ecommerce platform for your business many people get off track. There is no really great ecommerce platform. Ecommerce is hard and you shouldn’t expect everything to go smoothly. However, paying attention to the roadblocks, understanding the basic nuts and bolts, and testing functionality up front can save you a lot of heartache.

“Selecting the best ecommerce solution for your business starts with understanding the basic nuts and bolts.”

Here are a list of the top considerations when vetting out your platform:

  1. Catalog Management: How you structure data in your product catalog might seem like a straightforward task. Sometimes it is, but it can also get incredibly complicated. Plan out how you need to handle product variations first and how you’ll manage inventory.
  2. Payment: Payment is more complicated than it appears. Having a full understanding of when and where payment is accepted is critical in your vetting process. Many brands new to ecommerce don’t realize that payment often doesn’t occur at the time of purchase, but at the time of shipping.
  3. Shipping: Shipping charged to your customer and shipping charged to your business by your shipping carrier are often not the same thing. Ensuring your shipping charges to your customer cover your shipping costs and are also competitive can increase or kill your conversions.
  4. Sales Tax: Many brands operating in states without sales tax make the mistake of thinking they are exempt from having to pay. This is not always the case. Make sure the solutions you are vetting are able to manage tax payments for you.
  5. Fulfillment: How you actually ship product to customers is probably your most time intensive part of the vetting process, unless you’re outsourcing this to a fulfillment warehouse. Regardless, test to ensure order data is passed correctly to whomever is handling fulfillment, that shipping details are getting passed back to the customer, and that you understand the return process.
  6. ERP Integration: Enterprise level organizations need to ensure order data and catalog details match their ERP system. This can prove particularly challenging for organizations that are already set up to serve their retail and wholesale channels.

Every business has its own needs. What seems like a ubiquitous problem that any platform should have resolved often isn’t. The reality is there is no really great ecommerce platform (although there are really bad ones). The good solutions have their strengths and limitations.

When you find a good match, test the purchase process out early before getting too far down the design and development path. Your life will be easier if you find an ecommerce solution that aligns closely with your primary requirements and then you work with the system, compromising along the way.

Forcing ecommerce platforms to behave differently than they were designed should be carefully considered. You may wind up spending a lot of resources customizing your platform and maintaining those customizations through intensive upgrades and security updates.

Selecting the right ecommerce platform for your business can pay massive dividends towards the overall success of your brand. Whether you are a new ecommerce store or an enterprise online retailer, by understanding basic ecommerce platform nuts and bolts, testing and having patience, you’ll find a solution that meets your needs and helps your business.


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