E-commerce Platforms: Key Questions for an Informed Choice
How to choose an e-commerce tool? Let’s face it, making a choice when it comes to your e-commerce platform is a real headache. Each supplier seems to offer THE personalized solution, but rarely meets 100% of your business needs. Do you have to make a decision about your technological platform or wonder about its evolution? Discover the path to take and the series of questions to ask yourself to identify THE optimal and profitable solution for your business.
Overcome the Famous Marketing Wall, But How?
If you’ve already started researching which e-commerce platform to choose, you will have noticed that we quickly find ourselves faced with a marketing wall, a difficulty in finding precise information without getting lost in the meanders of the promises from different websites.
Everyone preaches their platform, emphasizes their advantages and key elements, but do you really need all these features that seem unique? Our team of experts often notices that clients only use about 20% of the functionality of their established e-commerce platform. Why then allocate so much budget to a tool that is not being used to its full potential?
Let’s clarify this complex technological universe to translate it into business solutions and facilitate your thinking in order to distinguish between trends and real e-commerce options that are relevant, profitable and scalable for your business!
What Do Online Sales Look Like in Canada?
Before the onset of the pandemic, eMarketer estimated the increase in online sales between 2013 and 2019 at 67%, from $64.5 million per year to $108.1 million. Then came the COVID-19 crisis, causing online sales to double in less than a year, according to Statistics Canada, for a total increase of nearly 111%. Based on Nasdaq predictions, by 2040, 95% of purchases will be completed online.
In Quebec, the percentage of retailers selling online has increased from 36% to 44% and online sales should reach 64% by 2023 according to Détail Québec.
Decisional Tree: What Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Your Online Sales Platform?
Whether it is for a redesign or for the implementation of a new e-commerce platform, it is essential to carefully determine the business needs of your company before anything else. Much like a funnel effect, these crucial questions will lead you to a personalized informed decision, completely adapted to your reality.
Why Do You Want to Set Up an E-Commerce Site?
What is your business model? Who are your clients (B2B/B2C)? Do you expect a return on investment, is it a central element of your business (primary source of revenue) or will the online sales tool be used to complement your existing offer and your income? Have you evaluated your distribution model as well as the distribution channels that you will use and that should be reflected in the platform?
Take a few moments to assess the change management that the implementation of this platform will require in your company.
How Is Your Business Model Built?
When we evaluate e-commerce projects, we ask a multitude of questions in order to fully understand your needs. So here is a series of questions that will help you navigate this decision path on your own:
What Is the Size of Your Company?
- What is your business in terms of size and revenue?
- What does your transaction volume look like and who is it for (B2B or B2C)?
- What are your client personas (young people, families, distribution networks, suppliers, etc.)?
- Do you have branches and stores/boutiques or do you have only one address?
- How big is your product catalogue?
How Complex Is Your Ecosystem and Your Ecommerce Project?
- Do you already have an existing ecommerce system? Which?
- How complex are your company’s business rules?
- How many languages do you have to support?
- What level of customization is required in your e-commerce tool?
- Do your products have many variants and components (e.g. custom product configurator)?
- What is the online experience you want to offer? Does it differ greatly from the classic framework?
What Connectivity Is Needed With Other Platforms?
- What is the ecosystem of your current e-commerce platform or what type are you looking for?
- Is it a standalone that does it all or do you need to integrate with other existing systems in your business (ERP/CRM)?
- What is the flow of your deliveries and what does the interaction with your warehouse look like (e.g. volume calculation tool, post, packaging, etc.)?
- What payment system do you need?
- What is the desired mobile experience?
- Do you have partners and suppliers who need to integrate with your platform?
What About the Internal Infrastructure That Will Support Your Online Sales Needs?
- What types of data pass through your e-commerce tool? What level of security is required?
- What are your infrastructural requirements?
- Are there particular security aspects to consider?
- What is the desired speed of execution?
- What about the evolution of your platform? What do you foresee as growth and needs in the near future and in the medium term?
- What are your current implementation means when the time comes to choose an e-commerce tool?
- Do you have a dedicated team of developers to support your technological needs? Is this team internal or external?
- Do you have the internal skills to implement, maintain, improve the platform?
- What is the timeframe required for its implementation as well as the budget you have?
- How do you measure the success of your tool? Should the platform include certain types of reports?
- What are the success factors for your e-commerce system?
- Will your business, in addition to the economic context, have to change its structure quickly and frequently?
- Are the vendors and resources related to the platform you are analyzing available and easy to identify?
Now that you have established a clear picture of your e-commerce needs, you will be able to analyze the different tool options objectively, without losing direction in the flow of compelling marketing information.
Your analysis will thus lead you to discover the different types of platforms on the market and to compare them according to the essential elements for you, not to adjust your needs to their offer.
Types of E-Commerce Platforms
To simplify the choice available on the market, our experts have classified the platforms into four main categories of online commerce platforms. First, what we call marketplaces, which are easy-to-use sites that don’t require any special technology for you to sell your products and services on them, like Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, etc., which allow you to be productive from day one, but do not offer the same type of personalization as real e-commerce solutions.
You will then find the traditional online sales platforms that allow rapid go-to-market times and proven robustness, but which also allow relatively little customization of your environment (Magento, WooCommerce, Orckestra, Salesforce, etc.).
Then, hybrid e-commerce platforms like Shopify Plus give a little more flexibility to their users with more specific needs and are located halfway between traditional and more modern platforms.
These platforms, which we call headless, include Commerce Tools and Big Commerce, which are highly customizable, scalable and more easily connected and integrated with other systems according to your business needs.
Business Needs Dictate Technical Needs, Not the Other Way Around!
Of course, choosing an e-commerce solution is not easy, since we often find ourselves in a gray area, but remember that it is your business needs that dictate the technical needs and not the other way around. You shouldn’t have to adapt to a platform, but rather find a solution that suits you, your realities, and your company’s business needs and challenges!
Still having trouble figuring out which way to go for your business? Please note that we offer support services from agnostic technical experts, that is to say that Logient is not attached to a particular platform. We choose the appropriate tool according to your needs and guide you through each step of your process of setting up or changing your e-commerce system!