How to: Assess eCommerce Platform Vendors

How to: Assess eCommerce Platform Vendors

Regarding e-commerce platform vendors

E-Commerce Platform Vendors: Agility has become a key criterion for assessing potential eCommerce platform vendors. The prospect of new mobile devices and formats along with ever-growing consumer expectations for a unified online/offline shopping experience, are among the reasons merchants seek to deliver infinitely-expanding capabilities.

Merchants who’ve done their homework by thoroughly mapping core strategies and existing technology needs are ahead of the game, but the challenge is still acute.

Furthermore, it’s crucial that merchants enlarge the scope of their inquiry to ensure that vendors have a solid foundation on which to innovate. As merchants contemplate a re-platforming move into vendor selection mode, they should be sure to assess to following:

1: Flexibility of platform vendors

Some e-commerce platform vendors may promise the ability to adapt their own platform to meet every future demand, and the ability to build custom or new features within their core technology is table stakes for online merchants. Vendors’ practices surrounding upgrades and new features are therefore essential to assess, via both detailed information from the vendor and conversations with existing clients.

But expecting an eCommerce platform vendor to handle every item on the laundry list of feature requests from across the organization is unrealistic. Rather, merchant sites are often at the nexus of a network of technology partners and must be able to interface seamlessly with both online service providers and internal systems. The number of vendors is huge, with over  1,000 companies in the marketing space alone. Merchants must ascertain whether a platform provider’s technology interfaces easily with others and whether key integrations are already part of the offering.

2: Performance

While the ability to innovate is crucial, all the fresh features in the world are meaningless if the site is unavailable to shoppers due to performance failures.  A 1-second delay in load time is said to equate to an 11% loss of page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% conversion deficit.

Nowhere is the need for speed more apparent than in the fast-growing realm of mobile shopping. Close to 40% of shoppers report dissatisfaction with the mobile shopping experience, with the top reason being: slow load times and inaccessibility. Since half of users say they’ll abandon a website they can’t access for another and 22% say they won’t return to problematic websites, it’s crucial to serve the growing audience of mobile shoppers with speed.

To address performance concerns, merchants considering hosted eCommerce solutions must assess how vendors will help their brands scale.

3: Security

Even as the sophistication of shoppers increases, wariness about data security remains a chief hurdle to purchasing online. For the growing number of shoppers who are browsing and researching on mobile devices, the perceived lack of security is among the leading reasons they don’t purchase.

For merchants, the security shoppers seek is no longer just a matter of keeping credit card data safe. With the increasing number of interactions and data transfers occurring between component parts of an eCommerce site and its related systems, merchants must track an increasing number of potential vulnerabilities. Merchants should quiz potential vendors on their threat monitoring capabilities.

By rigorously assessing capabilities when it comes to supporting new feature development, scaling performance to accommodate growth, and protecting data from malicious attacks, merchants can accurately discern which e-Commerce platform vendors are ready for the challenge.

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