It is very easy to give bad advice when writing about e-commerce software. The most common mistake that we writers make is assuming that your business is similar to others. If we write something too specific, it may not be relevant to your business, and following the advice could be detrimental. When choosing e-commerce software, there are three requirements that must be met: 1. business requirements, 2. technical specifications, and 3. functionality. There are, of course, other factors, but we will focus on these three.
1. Your Business
It would be easy to say, “You need a POS, an ERP, and a CRM running on your own server with your web portal.” You could spend thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions following that type of enterprise-grade advice. That may be exactly what you need, but it all depends on your business goals.
Just as you put together a business plan before you started your company and likely set financial, sales, marketing, and other goals, you should also have goals for e-commerce. These goals should not be dependent on software. Instead, write them as though you could have anything you want. Then, rather than trying to mold your business to fit software, you will find software that actually fits your business.
2. Tech Specs
Although I just told you to plan as though you could have whatever you want, the reality is that you cannot. Every business has financial and technical limitations. If you do not have tech staff, you can eliminate software that will require self maintenance. Furthermore, if you are limited to a shared hosting account or VPS, you can forget about software that requires a server cluster to even function. Know your limitations and focus on finding software that will fit within them but that also ideally have the potential to scale over time.
Once you know what you want and what your limitations are, you can start looking at features. Most e-commerce vendors will start with this one, and you end up paying for fancy features that you do not really need. When you have all of your goals in place, you can objectively look for the features you actually need. For example, some businesses will need a storefront but will not need expensive accounting functionality. Others may need a web portal and quote tool for services but do not need shopping carts and product pages for tangible goods.
Know Your Business
When you know your goals, limitations, and desired functionality, it should be much easier to weed out the e-commerce packages that do not fit and find one that actually does. You will save yourself time and money and ultimately have a much more successful business.