What to Look for When Choosing an E-Commerce Platform
Whether you’re a small e-commerce merchant or a large retail or product brand, choosing the right platform can make you a fortune as well as save you a fortune. The features and benefits you need in a solution are complex. Together with the complexity of the online marketplace and the speed at which technology is changing, picking the right platform to build your business on can be daunting.
Here is a checklist of items you want to consider as you evaluate the right platform for your business.
Marketplaces and Channels
The vast majority of e-commerce transactions are happening on marketplaces. Marketplaces are generally open platforms that allow multiples sellers to compete for consumer orders.
The biggest marketplace is Amazon. Not everything on Amazon is sold by Amazon. In fact, billions of dollars in revenue are made daily by third-party sellers, millions of them who are small businesses.
With the powerful 5G network coming online, drone delivery technology, self-driving cars and trucks and more people around the world entering the middle class, e-commerce is only set to grow exponentially over the next decade. Marketplaces like Amazon will see a lion’s share of that growth and e-commerce merchants that aren’t listed in those marketplaces will be missing out on a huge opportunity.
So when looking for an e-commerce platform, it’s vital that it integrates well with Amazon. Look for platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce that are official partners with Amazon in particular.
Working on a platform that has an official partnership with Amazon will ensure that whenever Amazon is making any changes to its marketplace, there will be advanced notices on your site, with time and resources already prepared for any major changes. The last thing you want is the integration to go down in the middle of a sales day.
Of course, there are many other marketplaces other than Amazon. The other channels you want to make sure it integrates with is Google Products, Facebook, Instagram, and eBay. There are other channels, but they’re not as big as the ones listed above.
How Are Other Merchants Performing?
It’s also important to take a look at how other e-commerce merchants are performing on different platforms. Even though many of these solutions have similar features and benefits on paper, it can be a different story in reality.
All of them will claim to be scalable, but what does that really mean? Does that mean you can easily scale from $100K in sales to $1M with minimal work? Does it mean you have to hire a team of developers to build out the solution in order to meet your needs?
Look at competitors using the platform, too. What is their sales growth rate like? How easy was it for them to scale up?
For example, if the average user of a particular platform is doubling their revenue year over year, that’s a good sign for the platform itself. Whether or not you get there is really up to you and many other factors, but at least you’ll know your platform won’t be slowing you down.
Building Your Own Brand
As you list items on various marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, you should also be building your brand for the long-term. That means you ultimately need your own website, logo and brand design.
These aren’t essential for making money as an e-commerce merchant. There are many anonymous sellers out there just looking for the next transaction. But if you want to build a long-term business with your own client list that you’re not sharing with Amazon, then building your own website is essential.
That also means your e-commerce platform needs to be able to integrate with your own website. Many of these solutions include an out of the box website with your own branding and domain.
One consideration should be on how easy it is to set up a website with these platforms. In addition to the ease of use, given you’re building a brand that will attract long-term clients, how the website looks and feels is important as well.
Most of these platforms offer templates that you can preview. In addition, it’s fairly easy to look up other real online stores that are built on these various platforms.
It’s very easy to start an e-commerce business these days. There are tools galore that make it easy to manage inventory and connect with various distribution outlets. But once you’re on a platform, it can be a pain to migrate to another solution. It’s best that you evaluate each platform closely and make the best decision possible at the outset.