Why You Shouldn’t Choose an eCommerce Platform Based on Features

Does the car come with a steering wheel?
It does.

Does it have a transmission?
The best one out there.

Does it come with any wheels?
Absolutely, we include four of them out of the box!

That’s what a car-evaluation process might sound like if cars were evaluated like software.

Not to brush everyone with the same broadstroke but I’ve met numerous retailers, brands, merchandisers, and peers that resort to evaluating their next choice of eCommerce platform on features.

It’s understandable, what else should be used to find the right fit at a distance?

If there’s anything to glean from the various retail-centric conferences I’ve been to it’s that the options – and noise – are endless, retailers need filters to narrow it all down, and features seem to be the logical starting point.

Every Feature You Could Want is On All Platforms

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The problem with looking at only eCommerce platform features is that every platform offers the same features now. Brakes? Check. Radiator? Check. Spark Plug? Check. Alternator? Of course, we’ll make sure your battery’s always charged!

Do you remember the last eCommerce platform you evaluated that wasn’t “easily customizable”, didn’t have some form of content/product management, discount engine, search engine, order management, transactional emails, responsive designs and integration points for the plethora of 3rd party systems that need to be integrated? B2B and B2C capabilities are built right in! To exacerbate the problem, almost anything that isn’t available out of the box is possible via 3rd party apps or customizations.

Stop Looking at Only eCommerce Platform Features

Knowing all that doesn’t get you any closer to finding the right fit for your business just as knowing a car has four wheels, a chassis and everything else it would need to move from point A to point B get you any closer to finding the right car for you, even if it is available in neon green.

The devil’s in the details

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The point isn’t to state the obvious but to serve as an introduction to key factors that should be carefully considered with each evaluation. There is no one-size-fits-all. Each retailer needs a unique solution based on their specific needs and the goal in this series of posts is to shed some light on key factors – not necessarily features – that should be considered when evaluating a platform partner that you’ll be investing in and working with for 3-5+ years.

This is a growing list, starting with some of the following:

  • To SaaS or not to SaaS – the general pros and cons of each and why you should care
  • Walking the upgrade path – factors to consider when customizing
  • It’s not just a fling – the platform/implementation partner you choose has long term implications; experience, references and culture fit should all be seriously considered
  • Price vs Cost – What’s the Total Cost of Ownership? (TCO)
  • Product history, roadmap & vision

So where do you start when it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform if you’re not looking for features. Well, at Demac we take a consultative approach, with merchants. What you need to do first is understand your unique needs and get a tailored, not out-of-the-box, eCommerce solution for your business. Look forward to my next post where I go a little deeper on choosing an implementation partner.