How to Choose the Ideal eCommerce Platform for Your Business

Written by | Oct 03, 2017

When beginning a digital commerce transformation for your B2B business, you’ll face many important decisions. If you’ve already made the call to buy a platform rather than build one, it’s time to choose a commerce platform with the features and versatility to adapt to your company’s specific needs.

There are endless commerce platforms that can get the job done, but choosing the best fit for your business will ensure long-term success and minimize road bumps down the line. To choose the solution that will maximize sales for your business, take these steps before committing:

Understand what are you trying to accomplish

There are as many motives to go digital as there are platforms. The first step in selecting a platform is to identify your specific goals. Are you looking to build a simple self-service model for customers to research and purchase products? Enable customers to complete complex orders from mobile devices? Solidify a consistent brand experience across channels?

While many platforms offer a degree of extensibility, the solution should address the majority of your needs prior to customization. If the platform you’re exploring requires significant customization to core features, you’re likely to face an extended implementation and a more complex process to take advantage of upgrades in the future.

Know your audience

Who will be using your site? A consumer brand requires a different set of capabilities than a B2B company or a business-to-distributor-to-business model. Complex pricing, catalog and entitlement rules, global expansion and more, add layers of intricacy that vary by industry. Do your research to see what platforms have helped drive your specific peers’ success. Understanding what solutions fit your business model is key to successful commerce implementation.

Create an RFP

Write a detailed RFP that documents high-level use cases and illustrates the current state of your model against the desired future state. List the requirements of a minimum viable product (MVP) that can be launched quickly, as well as features that might be added in future iterations.
Drafting a timeline for potential software providers is also essential. If your company has a hard deadline (for example, a system is being sunset and you need a replacement before a certain date), make sure that the platform has a proven track record for fast implementation and deployment that coincides with your timelines.

Drafting a timeline for potential software providers is also essential. If your company has a hard deadline (for example, a system is being sunset and you need a replacement before a certain date), make sure that the platform has a proven track record for fast implementation and deployment that coincides with your timelines.

Get familiar with potential products & establish product ownership

Once you’ve whittled down your list of potential commerce providers, product demos are a must. This gives you a better opportunity to familiarize yourself with a product and its roadmap (i.e. test the product’s core out-of-the-box features, understand customization capabilities and the release schedule for new features and upgrades). During this stage, you should request current customer references to evaluate the potential of each platform, and ascertain maintenance costs and potential issues.

If possible, establish product ownership within your organization if you haven’t already. Selecting a company representative to own the decision-making process throughout the commerce exploration and implementation phases is key to successful launch. On the platform side, discuss their customer support capabilities and policies. Establishing a product owner and clarifying these factors upfront can inform total cost of ownership and minimize surprises down the line.

Make an objective decision.

When making your final decision, look for a future-proof solution. A platform that can scale with your business and customer needs over time. Even if you have existing integrations with a brand or company, their commerce solution might not support your specific business needs or afford you the opportunity to grow your commerce offering overtime. Take the time to give each potential brand an objective consideration, paying close attention to the substance of their promises.

Only after thorough research and analysis can you make an educated choice about which platform will fulfill your companies specific needs. Today’s most innovative brands typically use cloud-based commerce solutions – like CloudCraze – to support their commerce needs. CloudCraze helps businesses deploy quickly, start generating revenue fast, and easily scale for growth as customer and market demands change. With the transformative power of digital in commerce, selection of the right platform is critical to maximizing the sales of your business.

Still debating whether to buy or build a commerce solution? Download our whitepaper, Buy or Build: The B2B Commerce Roadmap, to navigate this dilemma.

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