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Helpful Tips for How to Buy eCommerce Software (and for Picking Your Provider, Too)

In the market for eCommerce software? Here are some helpful tips for how to buy.

Tips for how to choose the right eCommerce software and provider for your business

For many retailers, eCommerce is becoming a must-have. Customers now expect to be able to view your products online, they expect you to know which stores have inventory of the products they want, and they want your online presence to be an extension of your brick-and-mortar stores.

There is a lot that goes into the decision of purchasing an eCommerce solution for your business. You need the right provider and you need the right software to fit the unique needs of your business. If you don’t get the right fit on both sides, you risk having a difficult, expensive, and/or slow implementation, software and service aggravations, or worse, you could lose business.

While there are many choices, there are also some basic tips any retailer should remember, regardless of what type of business you’re in, as you begin to consider not only the software itself, but who will be implementing and supporting that software.

Tips for buying eCommerce software

  1. The most important first step when buying any software is to understand your requirements: What do you need the software to do? Getting this right means understanding your needs today and in the future. The software should be able to grow with your company and handle the volumes you expect from your eCommerce site.
  2. The software needs to be able to handle your “must-haves,” such as legal and regulatory requirements.
  3. Realize that you may not need everything right up front; consider rolling out the eCommerce site in phases to ensure a seamless ramp-up to a fully functioning site
  4. Full integration is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity – your eCommerce software will need to integrate with your back office, touching accounting, IT, inventory/fulfillment, warehousing, and marketing.
  5. Know how much you can budget for the software. Budget constitutes 70-80% of the decision, so it is vital that you know that number…and that means you need to know what your requirements actually are and how the software will help your company achieve its goals. Determine your budget according to your requirements and not the other way around. Everybody wants a shop like Amazon, but not everyone is willing or able to invest billions.

Tips for choosing an eCommerce software provider

Selecting who will design, implement and support your eCommerce solution is just as important as choosing the right software.

  1. Take an honest look at how much you want to be involved in the project. You can outsource everything from the design and programming of the solution to the hosting and the day-to-day maintenance of the site, or you can be involved nearly every step of the way. Understand how much time and resources you and your staff are willing to commit to the project, including implementation but also on an ongoing basis, to determine what you will need in a provider.
  2. Once you know how involved you can be in the project, look for a provider that meshes well with your company and your company’s culture. For example, if you have a small- to medium-sized retail company, you probably would not hire IBM. Not only would you likely be out of your budget range, but it is likely that your cultures would not match up.
  3. Pick a dedicated employee who can take ownership of the implementations. This can save you some overhead costs because you don’t have to hire an external consultant. However, make sure this person has experience with eCommerce implementations.
  4. You have a choice of the type of providers you want to work with. Keep in mind that you need to approach the implementation and the choice of partner as a long-term relationship:

    • You can choose the software vendor—the company that developed the software. They will send someone to come in and set up the software, train your people, and leave.
    • Or you can choose a company like ArcherPoint, which is often referred to as a Value Added Reseller (VAR), a consultant, or in the Microsoft world, a Partner. These companies represent the software development company and will spend the time collaborating with you to optimize the software along with your business requirements and company processes. Most importantly, they will strive to understand your current needs versus your future state—or future needs—so they can help ensure your software grows smoothly with your company.
    • Many marketing agencies offer eCommerce as part of their website design offerings. These companies will often handle everything for your company, relieving you of the responsibility of having dedicated resources to handle the eCommerce site on a daily basis.
  5. Consider working with a company that is local – if not in the same city, then at least close by. And 24/7 support is extremely important: eCommerce will be your primary, or at least important, revenue source for your company. That means your site must be up and running at all times.
  6. While it is good if the provider has worked with companies in your industry, it is not a deal breaker if they have not. It is more important that the provider has worked with companies that are similar in size as yours and have similar traffic and technical needs.
  7. Lastly, check the provider’s references. Ultimately, it is up to you to perform due diligence on the provider you select. Do your homework, check references, and get those answers before you sign up.

Selecting eCommerce software is an important decision, so don’t take it lightly. Do your homework, not only on the software, but on who will be helping you implement and support it. We want you to see what ArcherPoint has to offer, of course. However, we also welcome you to if you have any questions about what’s right for you. We’ll be happy to help. Also, be sure to read more of ArcherPoint's retail blogs.