eCorner

eCorner
Secure eBusiness Solutions

Monday, 19 April 2010

How To Select An eCommerce Solution?

You see posts everyday on forums and blogs asking the same question, "how do I select an ecommerce solution for my business". If you are looking for an eCommerce solution then check out a few forums and ask a few online store owners what they use. A few forums you can try are:

www.whirlpool.net.au
www.flyingsolo.com.au
www.webhostingtalk.com.au


My recommendation is to try out a few solutions and see what you can handle. There are many levels of non-technical and often you find that some people will find even the simplest solutions difficult to manage and managing what is delivered is critical. Most of the providers will allow free trials for their ecommerce solutions so start a few and make a list of what you like and don't like.

Most of the hosted solutions will come with some pre-built templates where you can easily change banners, colours, navigation areas and items. So you might want to consider starting with a basic design and see how you go first. Your view on site look and feel will change in the first few months. I am not suggesting not getting professional design just leave it for a few months. Design should always follow function.

Functionality is really important and payment and shipping are the 2 key areas that need to fit your business processes. We often hear customers tell us they want to sell worldwide but end up getting 99% of the orders locally so planning is really important. Decisions on payment and shipping should be business decisions and not a technical ones as cost depends on the average value of the order and expected number of orders and your established margin.

The other big issue is what are you selling because that will have an influence on what style of online store you need and functionality (like digital product downloads) and wine as two examples.

When looking at functionality also think about:

  • Support for multiple languages (including Asian - UTF8)
  • Support for multiple countries and currencies
  • Newsletters and coupons
  • Cross sell and upsell (manual and auto)
  • Product comparison
  • Portals – eBay, Getprice, Shopping.com
  • How variations are handled (e.g. size, colour etc)
  • Define resources and sell services
  • Image processing – auto resizing and multiple images
  • Handling analytics like Google Analytics
  • User account capability (ie login for customers)
  • Price lists and discounts (and by customer groups)
  • Ability to add attributes to customers, products etc
  • Ability to bundle products
  • Search
  • Import / export for orders, customers, content etc
  • SEO capabilities – Titles, Meta tag, Image alt tags etc
  • SEM integration – like Google conversion tracking code
  • Social networking integration and gadgets
  • Shopping cart and functions like gift wrapping
  • Security – SSL and PCI
  • SLA and support costs – should be 99.5%+ availability
  • ability to easily add html, CSS, Flash and JS
  • Upgrade path to grow with your business and roadmap features (i.e. new releases etc)
  • Cross browser capability IE, Safari, FF, Chrome etc


A plan and budget are essential. Always ask for a complete quote or statement of work, and try to get a fixed price and timeframe for delivery.

You have a choice between Hosted Solutions like eCorner's and Open Source. Many web developers and companies push Open Source as free but according to an article at eCommerce-guide it is not and may end up being more expensive than proprietary hosted solutions. If you are technically capable Open Source can work for you but remember the focus should be on your business not becoming a web developer.

eCommerce Solutions Comparison


Capability

Hosted Solutions (e.g. eCorner)

Open Source

Custom Built

Australian Owned and Hosted


Yes

UnknownCheck

Secure PCI Compliant Data Centre

Yes

Depends on hosting provider


Check

Support in local time

Yes

Depends on hosting

Check










eCommerce Software

ePages


Open Source

Check

Shopping Cart

Integrated

UnknownCheck


WYSIWYG HTML Editor

YesRequires web developer

Check
Full eCommerce Content Manager

YesUnknown


Check

Customer and Order Manager

YesUnknown

Check

Import/Export - Customers, Orders, Products, Category content


YesUnknown

Check

Web Design - professional templates

120

Buy templates


Check

Custom Development capability

Yes

Requires web developer

Check


Payment Gateways (Australian, New Zealand and International)

Yes

UnknownCheck

Localised for Australia and New Zealand

YesUnknownCheck


Multiple Languages including Chinese and Japanese

YesUnknown

Check

Shipping & Logistics includes Australia Post

Yes


UnknownCheck

Stock Management

Yes

UnknownCheck










Newletters

Yes (free)


UnknownCheck

Coupons

Yes

UnknownCheck


Cross Sell

Yes

UnknownCheck

Channels (eBay, Getprice, Shopping.com)

Integrated


Requires web developer

Check

Search Engine Optimised (Titles, Keywords, Meta Tags, Alt on images)

Built in

Requires web developer

Check


Search Engine Marketing (Analytics and tracking code)

Integrated

Requires web developer

Check










Business Reporting

Yes

UnknownCheck


Web Analytics on all pages

Yes

Requires web developer

Check










Internet Data Capacity (depends on package)

1GB - 25GB

CheckCheck
Implementation


DIY or custom

Requires web developer

Check

Monthly Package (starts)

$77.00


Depends on hosting

Check

Post a Comment