Here are some of the key evaluation criteria to consider when selecting or upgrading your selling platform:
- Transaction volume: the platform should be cost effective for the number of transactions you anticipate (allowing for growth over a multi-year time horizon); see the related, previously discussed SaaS vs. on-premises considerations.
- Design and Themes: select or customize the look and feel of your online store to best represent your brand and feature your product portfolio. Most SaaS platforms provide easy design theme installs and add to them on a continuous basis. You can choose from free and premium options.
- Hosting and Security: Some platforms will include domains, hosting packages, SSL certificates, fraud protection, cloud backup, and/or PCI compliance features. You will need to decide whether you want to use the platform package or a 3rd party vendor.
- Payments and Shopping Cart: Most platforms offer cart solutions and is the main reason you need a selling platform. This enables customers to add items to a shopping cart and allows merchants to accept credit cards.
- Order Management: This is where you will control your inventory, process orders, and handle returns directly from the application. Selling platforms don’t generally provide functionality as robust as that which is provided by shipping platforms in this area, so you may want to focus your order management requirements on your shipping platform selection process.
- Customer Management: Organize and manage your customers and their unique needs. identify your most loyal shoppers with customer management tools. Create customer groups and customize their shopping experience.
- Marketing and Promotions: If growing sales is important, look for a platform that makes it easy to reach more shoppers via social media tools, automated SEO, email marketing applications and the ability to push your products to additional channels.
- Analytics: Some platforms will provide reports and analytics on where your customers are shopping, what they are buying, conversion and cart abondonment metrics and more.
- Apps and Integrations: most eCommerce platforms provide third-party integrations for features they don’t already provide out of the box; primary here is the ability to integrate with a robust shipping platform as discussed in the next bullet and in great detail in the next section, Shipping Platforms.
- Shipping platform support:
- Integration: data fields needed, integration mechanism, supported marketplaces, carts and platforms
- User experience support: present international shipping, support presentation of multiple shipping pricing models, etc
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