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5 Important Considerations Before Selecting or Revamping Your eCommerce Platform

December 20, 2016
Markets have never been more dynamic. The penalties for businesses that fail to adjust can be stiff. But opportunities abound for companies that can respond rapidly to change.
 
In this unsettled landscape, selecting your company’s eCommerce site or re-platforming are big decisions. Doing things right can be very rewarding, but no one should underestimate the challenges. Put simply, migration can be extremely disruptive.
 
But where there is danger there is also opportunity, as the saying goes. Selecting the right platform can benefit your company enormously. Here are 5 of the most important things to consider if you want to avoid the most common mistakes companies make when selecting or revamping their eCommerce platforms.
 
1. Don’t just look at the initial price tag. For example, the upfront sticker price on one particular platform may be lower than another. However, It’s critical that you consider the complete roadmap of the product you are considering, Indeed, the most important question you need to be asking is, “how long will this platform need to be in place?”
 
For example, if you are just looking at a one to three-year time frame, then perhaps the upfront cost may be decisive. However, if your time frame is five to ten years, then the true value/price can even out. It is essential to consider the entire "ongoing" investment that is essential for accelerating growth. If a Request for Proposal (RFP) only includes the initial cost, then it won’t account for the true value that will be found in the Total Costs of Ownership (TCO).
 
2. Failing to recognize the risks and benefits of being tied to a single ecosystem. Being tethered to one ecosystem may make sense for some organizations, but not others. For example, being integrated with and dependent on one platform will probably seem chancy and confining to businesses that seek a high degree of autonomy.
 
On the other hand, a single ecosystem is quick to implement, more cost-effective, and requires less process planning, all of which can help your business get to market faster and less expensively.
 
Ultimately, there are trade-offs that need to be considered. For instance, full ownership costs more, but you’ll have greater independence to control the end user experience. However, a single platform can get you up and running quickly with less development costs.
 
3. Failing to properly consider a platform’s features and how they will be integrated into your business. Examining a platform’s features carefully is critical, but it is only a first-step. You need to think carefully about how you’ll integrate particular features, as well as how they’ll impact your business. For example, how will a given app or extension affect your customers, your back-end administration, and also your employees? Ultimately, asking questions like these will help you get a better handle on how to customize a platform for your needs.
 
4. Neglecting to get the business (especially marketing) and IT aligned. Marketing and IT have been converging for some time. So, it is especially important for IT--the people responsible for rolling out and maintaining platforms--to keep all the other aspects of a business aware of the tech capabilities, cost requirements, and follow-up work necessary to configure a platform’s features.
 
5. Overlooking the need to properly document requirements. What are a company’s broad organizational goals in selecting a platform or upgrading it?  It is important to get these down on paper. It may take a little extra time and effort, but it will help ensure that you get the job done right the first time. Typically, Companies that properly document requirements can expect to re-platform every 7-10 years instead of having to change in 2-3 years.
 
Takeaway
 
Launching or re-platforming can be a disruptive process. Done properly, it can pay significant dividends for your organization. However, it is critical for your business to think things through, clarify your objectives, and make sure all aspects of your business are on the same page when it comes to implementing the change. Considering the most common mistakes many companies make can help your business determine if it is ready to meet these challenges.
 
The team at Guidance can help you find the right platform for your business, so contact us today.