Often times, we begin an online business with the intent to launch quickly and select one of a number of ecommerce platforms. Budget-conscious entrepreneurs may choose an open-source solution, like Zen Cart or Magento Community, or a subscription model, like Volusion or Big Commerce. Any of these will serve you well... until you reach a tipping point, when re-platforming becomes necessary to enable additional functionality and scale for growth. How should you go about it? We have some suggestions for you.
Selecting the Right Ecommerce Platform
If you've been running your store on its current platform for some time now, then you should have a good idea of what you like about it, as well as any missing functionalities you need to implement for continued growth. You'll want to organize this information into an easy-to-read table or spreadsheet to compare all factors when deciding on a new platform. You can even create a checklist to help you easily mark things down when speaking to platform providers.
Make a List of Wants and Needs
Start with the user interface (front end) of your website. What functionality would make the shopping experience more engaging for customers? Do you sell clothing or other merchandise where customers will want to zoom-in to see details? Or do you sell products like computers, whose various attributes customers will want to sort, filter, and compare before making a purchasing decision?
Next, think about the back end of your website. What do you need most? Do you need to sync inventory with your bricks-and-mortar POS (Point of Sale) system in real time? Or do you do all of your business online using a drop-ship model where inventory control is not required? Review these points and ask yourself other pertinent questions to determine your final list of wants and needs.
Create a Comparison Table
Choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business can be overwhelming, as there are so many options, each with pros and cons. This is why it's helpful to organize your top candidates into a table or spreadsheet. Put your list of wants and needs into the first column, and list your favorite ecommerce platforms across the top row. Then, review each platform to see how well it meets your requirements. Be sure to annotate its standard features, as well as what needs might require custom coding or additional costs to implement. When you've entered all the information, it should be apparent which packages most closely resemble your vision and budget. After you've narrowed your choices, take some time to research the finalists online. Look for common pitfalls and ask yourself if they're critical to the success of your online business and see what current users have to say about their experience.
Related: Find a web design company to help you optimize your e-Commerce site.
Hire an Expert
If you've reached a tipping point with your company and need to re-platform your website, then it's probably time to turn in your DIY card and hire an expert. Doing it yourself has taken you this far, but re-platforming is about taking your company to the next level. Your focus now should be on scaling your business rather than developing code. Following the above steps, you will be armed with enough knowledge to begin your search for an ecommerce development company with expertise in the platform you're looking migrate to and a working knowledge of the platform you're retiring, in order to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Author Bio: Asi Erenberg is the co-founder of ECommerce Partners, a full-service ecommerce solution provider and digital marketing agency in New York City. His portfolio includes several Fortune 500 companies and many other successful online businesses. Connect with Asi on LinkedIn or follow his company on Twitter.
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