How do I choose the best eCommerce platform to launch an online store? - If you’re looking for an answer to this question, you are at the right place. Choosing eCommerce platforms requires strategic thinking and planning. An ideal eCommerce development platform lays a solid foundation and gives shape to your eCommerce store. However, eCommerce platforms are a part of an eCommerce solution that gives shape, solidity, and integrity to the site’s structure. While it is the eCommerce solution that has to change and adapt to changing market demands and client expectations, it is possible only when your eCommerce platform provides adaptive foundations.
If you’re wondering if an eCommerce platform and eCommerce solution are the same, then the next section will clear all your doubts.
Are Ecommerce Platforms and Ecommerce Solutions the Same?
Not at all! Ecommerce platforms and eCommerce solutions are very different from each other.
An eCommerce platform is a software that allows you to sell goods online. However, it alone cannot support a customer’s journey from start to finish. For instance, an eCommerce platform without any integrated payment gateway cannot process the payment of goods.
In simple words, an eCommerce platform needs the help of additional tools and technologies to support a buyer’s journey.
On the other hand, an eCommerce solution is a complete suite of tools and technologies, processes, services, people, competencies, and data that work in harmony like a well-lubricated machine. Altogether, these cater to a merchant’s requirements and meet customer expectations.
Things to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
To choose the perfect eCommerce platform, you need to consider several key parameters to select the one that fulfills your business goals and visions.
Here are certain considerations to keep in mind when choosing an eCommerce platform:
1. SaaS, Paas, or On-Premise
The first thing to consider is the type of eCommerce platform you need. Do you want to go with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), On-premise platform, or any other type?
SaaS is a software developed by a service provider. Merchants get access to the software based on their licensing cost and specific credentials. They can integrate other systems to the platform using plugins or extensions via APIs. However, SaaS solutions limit the customizations to the core. Shopify, BigCommerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, etc. are some of the examples of SaaS platforms.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a fully hosted solution, wherein the service provider has the authority to edit its core and the merchants can move it to their servers and infrastructures. Unlike SaaS, Paas provides freedom to customize. Magento, currently known as Adobe Commerce is a famous example of PaaS. If you’re less tech-savvy, you can hire experts for Magento customization services.
On-Premise platforms allow merchants to install and configure them on their preferred infrastructure. Earlier, most PaaS solutions were on-premise platforms until SaaS was introduced. Examples of on-premise eCommerce platforms include SAP Hybris, WooCommerce, IBM Websphere, etc.
2. Your Internal Capabilities
As a merchant, you should evaluate your digital commerce maturity before you make any decision. You can measure your internal capabilities in three different phases:
Inside-out Assessment: Take a look at your overall business and self-assess your digital commerce maturity.
Outside-in Assessment: Obtain feedback from a third party or your customers to understand the world’s perception of your business, concerning digital maturity.
Outside-out Assessment: Evaluate your business based on industry best practices and not only your rivalries.
3. Aspects of the Ecommerce Ecosystem
There are four areas of an eCommerce ecosystem:
· Clients: They pay for the fruition and take full advantage of technology.
· Platforms: They combine best eCommerce practices that apply to at least 80% of their target groups.
· Third-party tech providers: They fulfill the gaps between what an eCommerce platform offers and the requirements of 80% of their target customers.
· Companies: They ensure safe and seamless information exchange while providing the necessary counseling and training to merchants.
4. Your SMART Goals
Before choosing an eCommerce platform, you must define your SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & timely) goals for your business. These goals will help you to understand your different digital maturity phases and ways to meet your goals.
5. Your Budget
Of course, budget plays an important role in the process of eCommerce platform selection. As an eCommerce platform is just a part of the solution and not an all-inclusive solution, you must consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) before selecting.
6. Your Internal Culture
An eCommerce platform must align with your internal culture. While some eCommerce solutions take months for complete implementation, others may take up to 3-4 weeks. So, whether it is a B2C or B2B eCommerce platform that you’re looking for, make sure you consider your internal culture, project timeline, collaboration needs, hierarchical roles, etc.
7. Your Existing Setup
When it comes to re-platforming, data migration becomes the most challenging phase. It’s mainly because data migration tools expect the other end to have a vanilla setup. So, any customizations made to the existing setup can impact the future platform’s efficiency to deliver the desired results.
While some platforms come with certain limitations, others even provide support for headless eCommerce development. In this approach, the platform fuels all the workflows, processes, and UX front-end of the website is completely decoupled from the backend and can be personalized according to your needs.
For example, Magento eCommerce website development allows you to implement a headless commerce approach to improve business efficiency and outputs.
8. Your Customers
Your customers might never know what eCommerce platform you use, however, keeping their needs in mind can help you choose the best eCommerce platform. You must check whether features are in-built or if there are other modules/extensions available that can be used to enhance the functionality.
As B2C, B2B, and D2C customers have diverse requirements, you must consider your target group before selecting an eCommerce platform. So, you may consider aspects like your global customer base, if you’re running physical stores that need to be integrated with the eCommerce solution to deliver an omnichannel experience.
If you’re looking for an eCommerce platform, make sure it proves to be one of the most efficient omnichannel retail management solutions.
9. Your Catalogue
Finally, you must also check the solution provider’s catalog management capabilities. First of all, you must consider what type of products there are - simple or configurable products. Then, how many SKUs, variants, and updates of the catalog are there?
While some eCommerce platforms are designed to manage extensive and multiple catalog in different languages and currencies, others can handle products with numerous variants, but cannot do this natively.
For example, Magento enterprise development empowers you with powerful catalog management tools that help you efficiently manage your store with many products and suppliers
Flexibility plays a critical role in the eCommerce platform selection process. So, as a merchant, you need to first focus on the hard facts and then, once you have shortlisted the platforms, select the one that is more flexible and adaptive to change and evolution.
You must also check the core features of the platform such as languages, currencies, warehouses, locations, etc. If the eCommerce development platform has limitations with respect to these core areas and modules and extensions offer a partial solution, you need to decide whether you should choose the platform or compromise.
A Recommendation for Merchants
Among the different leading eCommerce platforms out there, Magento is one of the most reliable and widely used eCommerce platforms worldwide. Merchants and retailers investing in Magento development services have grown 3x faster.
Out of all eCommerce sites on the internet, 12% of eCommerce sites are powered by Magento. Moreover, the latest Magento 2 version offers features that can help you operate your store with more than a million products and in multiple languages and currencies.
Furthermore, this robust platform offers great customization features that help you build a store that fulfills your requirements and goals.
However, if you’re less tech-savvy or if you want to focus more on your business-critical activities, you may hire Magento 2 developers for Magento website design and development, customization, integration, or ongoing Magento support services.