Regardless of whether the e-commerce journey starts from scratch or if it is already underway, the choice of e-commerce platform is a large and important decision. A choice that will affect the company for a long time. In this series of articles, we will try to clarify the concepts and facilitate something in the choice for your, probably, most important sales channel. E-commerce!
There are many e-commerce systems on the market, most of them are actually good, even really good, but often specialized in different things. What you as an entrepreneur need to take into account is how well the platform fit your company's requirements and strategies, now and in the future. Who is my customer? B2B or B2C? Advanced pricing model? Internationalization? And so on.
Other important points to take into account are of course how easy the system is to integrate into your existing infrastructure and how easy the system is to adapt to your unique needs and requirements.
Initially, do not get caught up in the technology, see it as an enabler. It is more important to keep track of the business model and how the flow is in the company. Therefore, it can be good to start from scratch, to lay the foundations.
Set clear goals and have a strategy
Let's start with the level of ambition, it is rarely a good business decision to open e-commerce as a sales channel without a good strategy. Few companies employ a salesperson without clearly specific sales goals and a collection of tools that the salesperson can use, the same should apply to e-commerce. Clear goals can give a clear picture of the level of ambition and are a good basis for choosing a platform. The goals of course differ, but increased conversion, higher share of total sales or increased number of order lines can be goals. Put numbers on the goals, this is important to know if you managed to reach your goals or not. Strengthening your brand can also be a goal, but that can be more difficult to quantify.
Anchor throughout the organization
An e-commerce investment must be on the agenda as a strategic channel and be rooted in the entire company. For most people, this sounds like a matter of course, but it is not possible to point out enough! If you are going to change platform, this is just as important, let everyone in the organization feel involved, but let the project group make a decision. Also appoint who is responsible and administers the platform and think about which parts of the organization will be most affected by it.
Anchor throughout the organization
Be aware that a serious e-commerce venture never takes care of itself. You have to invest in man-hours, today it is more important than ever to have accurate and interesting content, unique images and this takes time.
An e-commerce investment must be on the agenda as a strategic channel and be rooted in the entire company. For most people, this sounds obvious of course, but it is not possible to point out enough! If you are going to change platform, this is just as important, let everyone in the organization feel involved, but let the project group make a decision. Also appoint who is responsible and administers the platform and think about which parts of the organization will be most affected by it.
Choosing the right tools
It is seldom as simple as buying an e-commerce platform in a box. If you roughly simplify, the sales platform itself consists of four basic parts, and depending on the needs and choice of platform, you can include different parts in your system.
CMS - Content Management System
CMS is the tool where the landing pages themselves are built up. Often the web administrator builds a page with so called blocks, a block can for example be a list of products or an image. A CMS becomes extra important if you want to work actively with the design of landing pages or the start page.
PIM - Product Information Management
Refining product data such as texts, images, films, product relationships and translations between all languages is today a very large part of the work in e-commerce, and perhaps the most important. It is a job without a real end and if you want to be sharp, that is what e-commerce is. This type of product data is seldom or never suitable for administration in an ERP, it is left to a PIM system.
The webshop itself is of course the heart of your digital platform. It is what will drive traffic, attract shopping, be simple and intuitive.
Do not forget analysis of all data, it is difficult to be relevant to customers if you drive blindly. There are several analysis tools, but Google Analytics goes a long way and is free in the basic version, also more or less standard.
In many e-commerce platforms, all or parts of these systems are already delivered as integrated parts (Litium, Bizzkit, etc.). Depending on your needs, these, all-in-one solutions, can go a long way and there may be a need for more specialized solutions. This itself is not a problem, you can almost always choose your own solutions and plug them in via integrations.
Knowledge internally or externally, or both?
Even if you internally have knowledge of e-commerce and have a clear picture of where you want to go and what to do, there is a point in allying yourself with a knowledgeable e-commerce consultant early in the process.
The choice of consultant will of course be as important as the choice of the platform itself, and hopefully also a long-term relationship that will lead to new ideas and new ways of looking at e-commerce. Such a relationship is as much about trust as understanding of the processes for when choices turn into technology and it is time to write code, the consultant is already well aware of your needs and requirements.
In the second part, we will talk about how your business model should influence the choice of e-commerce platform.