How to make an Informed eCommerce Platform Evaluation

I spend the majority of my time helping merchants evaluate which eCommerce platform is the right fit for their business. It’s what I’m passionate about … I love making sense of big, gnarly webs of interconnected processes and systems.

I can tell you how often I get a question similar to this: “A merchant has $10M in online sales, can eCommerce platform X handle that?”

My answer is simple: “Likely, but that’s the wrong question to be asking.”

Make an Informed eCommerce Platform Evaluation

It’s 2017 and I think it might be time to start to remove this much-loved criteria for how to choose the right eCommerce platform from all conversations going forward. Yes, I’m talking to you consultants and agencies!

Related: How To Know When You’re Ready for Shopify Plus

Diving Deeper than Sales Volume (GMV)

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The issue of one platform being more scalable than the next is going away quickly. I’d argue it’s already left the building, but take one look at any platform’s marketing material and it’s still front and centre.

Ask me about this topic 5 – 8 years ago and yes, we could have had a real conversation about which platforms were better at handling merchants doing 10M – 100M and which platforms were for 100M and up.

Today, volume of sales means almost nothing in the search for and valuation of a platform, most definitely not with the platforms we’ve partnered with (Shopify Plus, Magento and Workarea). Shopify has merchants doing 10’s of millions in sales, Magento has merchants doing 10’s of millions in sales, so does Weblinc’s Workarea.

What really matters is getting into the weeds a bit and figuring out which platform actually helps improve the many processes, systems and challenges within your business.

Each of the 3 platforms I mentioned (there are dozens more on the market) have amazing benefits to the right merchant. The right choice is found in the fine print, not the headline.

We have to take the conversation away from “What’s your sales volume and how fast are you growing?”.

High Growth isn’t a challenge that needs solving, it’s a blessing that needs embracing.

Related: Merchants, Go Around Legacy Technology!

Evaluate Things That Matter

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I absolutely love talking to a merchant that has taken the time to really think about why they need a new eCommerce platform. I even love helping figure out the “why”. That’s the fun stuff!

eCommerce businesses can also be incredibly simple and very efficient. eCommerce businesses can also be quite complicated, particularly for those that are part of mid-to-large sized retailers with lots of stores, warehouses and operating geographies. One isn’t better than the other, just different.

I have friends that run eCommerce businesses doing north of 10M in online sales while only having a handful of employees and very little overhead. I also have friends that run eCommerce businesses with 10M in online sales, 3M of which is B2B wholesale, 7M is B2C in 3 countries/currencies and the entire 10M online business is part of a 150M company operating in 7 countries globally.

If I had to pick one to build myself I’d take the 10M online business with a handful of employees, but that’s just my preference!

The point is this. Both of those 10M companies mentioned above have VERY different requirements of the technologies deployed in their organizations.

It would actually be downright foolish to assume that both have the same needs simply because they both do 10M in online sales.

So my simple request is this. Just stop. Stop using total sales as a way to evaluate if a business is the right fit for something.

Related: How to Build a Small But Highly Effective Team