May 23, 2017
Having a good product or service is important. Without something worth selling, you’re not going to keep customers for long. But even if you have the best products in your industry, if your users can’t figure out how to buy what you’re offering, they’re going to go elsewhere.
Selecting and configuring the right e-commerce software is crucial to your success, but there are a lot of different levels of complexity available and not every business needs every feature. So how do you know what software is right for your online store? To find out, we asked 10 entrepreneurs from YEC what they’d recommend business owners focus on when deciding. Here’s what they said:
Start By Mapping Out Your Business
It’s important to look at your “software stack” from a high-level to determine how all of the pieces fit together. Your online store is the center of your business and needs to connect with all of the other programs used to run your business, such as accounting, inventory management and customer service. Make sure you pick a platform that “plays nice” with the other tools in your belt. – Ross Beyeler of Growth Spark
Ask Forums and Facebook Groups
One of the first things I do before testing a piece of software or a new widget is to ask a respected online community for their thoughts. You will typically hear the pros and cons, and if you engage in the conversation you will get a massive amount of feedback. I’m always surprised how many people private message with personal insights and experiences.
– Phil Laboon, WUDN
Select a Platform Based on Your IT Knowledge
The key factor that differentiates the various e-commerce platforms is the amount of technical expertise required. Decide if you want a lot of customization (high technical requirements) or fewer custom capabilities (lower technical skill) and how far your knowledge will take you. If you are willing to get technical (or hire IT staff) you will have more customization, but more sleepless nights.
– Diego Orjuela of Cables & Sensors
Think Through Your Short- and Long-Term Needs
The most popular or even best-reviewed system isn’t necessarily best for your needs. Breakdown the key aspects of your current operations, and also what’s needed as you grow. For example, Shopify is great for more straightforward ecommerce, but Magento offers more customization. It’s a pain to switch, so invest in the right platform to ensure it will enhance your growth, not hinder it.
– Travis Nagle of Stem and Viesso
Create a Deliverables List
It probably goes without saying, but you need to create a deliverables list. Not every online store needs the same functionality. Do you have a specialty shipping module? Custom tax modules? A CRM that needs integration? How about inventory management. Most online stores do an adequate job in these areas or connect to a specialty software. However, most likely you will need to dive deeper.
– Peter Boyd of PaperStreet Web Design
Ensure the Vendor Provides Strong Post-Sale Support
Take the time to have conversations with software vendors. It’s about finding the right partner. Evaluate not just the product but the people at the company. The vendor should be interested in understanding your business, preferably with experience in your industry. An important evaluation that’s often overlooked is the vendor’s ability to support you post-sale and if they’ll be readily available.
– Vincent Wong of mHelpDesk
Make Sure Customers Like It
It’s not about what you like so much as what your customer likes. If they find it simple and easy to use, you’ve found a good piece of software. In today’s mobile-centric world, the key thing is to get it down to as few clicks (or taps) as possible.
– Thomas Smale of FE International
Learn From Your Competitors and Industry Leaders
The first step is identifying what’s available and what everyone else is using. The best place to start is with your competitors and other industry leaders. Utilize a service like builtwith.com to identify your competition’s tech stack. Once you have a list of what everyone else is using, you can begin doing your research to determine what’s the best fit for your specific business needs.
– Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck
Test Them Out as Customers
Most e-commerce software notes some companies where their software is currently being used. You could use or buy from those sites to get a better idea of the user experience in order to see if it fits with what you want to create. Seeing it from the customer’s perspective is a valuable way to see if it would be good.
– Andrew O’Connor of American Addiction Centers
Get the Full Team Involved
Make sure that the period of free trial is used wisely by everyone from the team. Get everyone’s opinion about the software’s ability to be user-friendly and stable, and about the software’s fees, support and packages. The important thing to see here is what software will make a customer’s life easy and smooth-sailing from order to checkout.
– Daisy Jing of Banish
Read more about ecommerce startups here on Tech.Co
The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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