If you are a growing online business you might face challenges with your existing e-Commerce platforms, which may mean you’ve outgrown your platform and an upgrade is required.

Reasons to consider upgrading to a new e-Commerce technology platform

  • Downtime and revenue loss triggered by high traffic volumes: All of the merchants we interviewed experienced growing traffic volumes, driven by organic business growth, marketing activities, and spikes from sales events. In some instances, seasonal demand or sales events caused traffic to increase by five times to 10 times. Their eCommerce platforms’ inability to manage these spikes resulted in downtime or revenue loss
  • Inability to support sophisticated online marketing activities: Several of the merchants’ eCommerce platforms lacked the functionality and flexibility to easily create customized landing pages, support targeted marketing initiatives, or integrate with external marketing agencies. This limited their ability to ramp up lead generation and other marketing activities
  • Unfavourable economics associated with adding new functionality and updates: For some merchants, the effort and resources needed to implement new features in their eCommerce platforms to support more sophisticated eCommerce activities were unsustainable. These features ranged from creating short-lived landing pages to integrating with external marketing services providers or with back-office systems. These merchants wanted to implement additional features and extensions in their eCommerce platforms without disrupting their normal business operations and introducing complex multiyear technology efforts
  • Lack of readily available third-party development resources: The interviewed merchants found it challenging to find knowledgeable integrators and developers for prior solutions. The scarcity of resources meant higher development and integration expenses as well as uncertainty about the long-term viability of their eCommerce platforms.

What to expect from a future proof, new platform

Usually there is not just a single answer to this question (1-2 platforms might be as suitable). Factors to consider include:

e-commerce

Features and functionalities to be evaluated

Responsive Design: 

  • Images, prebuilt themes, videos, product content, unique branding elements, intuitive UI/UX, cross browser compatibility

Hosted vs. Non Hosted

  • Which option delivers best service and ROI

Flexibility

  • How will this platform grow and change with your business

Integrations

  • Payment  gateways, ERP, accounting, Customer service, email marketing, social media, shipping provider, CRM

Implementation Costs

  • Data transfer, extensions and plugins, search technology, out of box features, affiliate rewards, B2B and B2C ecommerce, custom features

Maintenance costs

  • Sales Volume – Take into account the expected volume of sales, number of products/services, need for further developments
  • ROI – Take into account the ROI vs Cost of the platform
  • Open Source platforms – If choosing an open source platform with a large community (like Magento) you will have access to a lot of good resources (developers, modules, plugins) and depending on the size of the community there is a high possibility that this platform will be future proofed
  • Cost of services – You might pay less for the same services as long as you have a way of testing and comparing. For example, outsourcing to Eastern Europe is cost effective and gives the same level of communication and quality that you would expect in Western Europe
  • Traffic volumes – The ability to scale to handle large traffic volumes is vital. Irrespective of the scale of their businesses, all of the interviewed merchants wanted e-Commerce platforms that would scale to meet their growing online traffic volumes
  • Custom landing pages – Flexibility to easily and rapidly create custom landing pages and perform catalog updates and other management tasks. The merchants wanted to easily make changes and updates and perform other day-to-day management tasks using inexpensive internal resources, decreasing their reliance on external providers to perform these tasks
  • Easy integration with Back office systems . Most of the merchants used external marketing services providers and, in some instances, had existing customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that would require integration. This drove the need for sufficiently flexible e-Commerce platforms that could enable these integrations without incurring too much expense
  • Rapid deployment – All of the interviewed merchants wanted relatively quick deployments so that they could begin growing their online businesses. This drove the need for skilled implementation partners that understood their clients’ industries and that could satisfy the scope and scale of their deployments

What should your e-Commerce technical specifications include?

  • Functional requirement for best user experience
  • Search and content requirements
  • Technical requirements
  • SEO requirements
  • Landing pages optimized for conversion
  • Information architecture, including navigation tree, detailed functional design and UX focused design general concepts
  • Graphic designs: website theme, style guide and general visual concept
  • Development needs: initial mockups for backend and front end, standard e-Commerce features, customizations, third party integration needs, technical SEO, usability testing
  • Migration needs (if case): migration phase, content migration synchronization, SEO synchronization, setup of applications in live environment, performance and load testing
  • Maintenance and support needs (decide what will you keep inhouse and what will you outsource, choose a support model, etc)
  • Future roadmap

e-Commerce platform scoring tips

When comparing offers make sure you compare the same things. A paid specifications phase is a good idea before you get the final offers and it usually helps making business decisions before actually starting the project.

  • Product information management – collecting, exporting, cleaning and maintaining your data is very important
  • Reporting – a robust reporting system will make your life easier
  • Cross selling/up selling, rating and reviews
  • Multiple payment options
  • Workflow collaboration
  • Search navigation – make sure that the platform not only handles searches based on attributes and enables easy navigation, but also enables you to change this according to future needs
  • Order management tools – might be needed only for complex websites. It enables orders to be routed to the most effective shipping location
  • Personalization – based on behavior, purchase history and A/B testing
  • Merchandising tools – give your merchandising team access to easy to use back end tools to change and improve products on the website
  • Proven track record
  • References

In house or outsource

In house

In building one’s own solution, there are many factors to consider

  • Domain names to purchase
  • Hosting space to rent
  • Merchant accounts to open
  • Payment options to acquire
  • Front and back-end developers to hire
  • Analytics to measure
  • Affiliate programs to join
  • OEMs to partner with
  • Fraudsters to defend against
  • Customers to serve
  • The platform needs to integrate with many other applications – CRM, ERP, marketing automation, and content management systems
  • Build exactly to your needs
  • Take the full advantage of internal systems
  • Be unique in the market place
  • Fully leverage your previous investment in ERP and other internal systems

When to consider using an in-house solution?

When your company:

  • Has a complex product, a broad and complex distribution chain, or unique market requirements that can be addressed only by with a custom-built application
  • Believes that its own e-commerce design will provide a unique competitive advantage
  • Has made a large investment in e-commerce early on, and now finds converting to a licensed or hosted solution too costly or too disruptive to their business
  • Has depreciated much of its investment in its e-commerce environment, and the incremental investment required for innovation and ongoing support is less costly than starting over with a licensed or SaaS alternative
  • Has built up a large IT organization and has legal, financial, or organizational limitations on how quickly it can reduce the size of that staff

Outsourced

When it comes to penetrating global markets, payments options and currencies must all be localized. The benefit of partnering with an outsourced solution is that they handle all of these activities on your behalf;

  • integration with third parties might be already implemented
  • the business logic and software architecture it’s taken care of
  • Feature rich packages
  • Continuous investment by vendor into new features and enhancements
  • Time to market slower than SaaS but significantly quicker than build
  • Some pre-built integrations may be in place
  • Vendor support with operational issues
  • There are systems integrators and developers with previous experience
  • Robust, well tested, and used system

Benefits of outsourcing:

  • Go to market faster
  • Optimize your team structure
  • Have access to industry best practices
  • Research, learn and test before overinvesting
  • Lower your costs due to economy of scale

When to consider using an outsourced e-Commerce platform?

When your company:

  • Lacks the internal technical and management resources required to build, deploy, and support an e-commerce system
  • Cannot keep up with the pace of innovation in e-commerce, particularly in areas such as mobile and tablet support, integration with social software, or managing billing and payments processing in-house
  • Competes in a market that requires rapid response to market changes and has short “time to productivity” requirements that cannot be met with in-house development

Contact us to speak to one of our e-commerce experts.