Three Steps to Choose an eCommerce Platform

Whether launching a brand new site or replatforming your current one, it can be daunting to try to figure out how to choose an eCommerce platform.

Choosing an eCommerce platform can seem like a complicated process, but at the end of the day, the toughest part – setting up the process – has already been taken care of. Here’s our approach to choosing an eCommerce platform.

List out detailed business requirements

The first step in choosing an eCommerce platform lies on your end: the partner that you’re going to be working with will need to know about the various requirements of your eCommerce business. This comes down to a variety of things, including necessary functionality, site features, and integrations (think ERP, CRM, etc.). The simplest and most efficient method of completing this step lies in filling out a BRD (business requirements document). Check out an example BRD here.

Map requirements versus eCommerce platform capabilities

Once your BRD is completed, you’re going to need to map your business requirements against the capabilities of different eCommerce platforms. Each eCommerce platform is unique, so each one is going to have its own strengths and weaknesses that might work better/worse with your specific needs. While you can do some research on your own, you’re probably going to need the help of some experts at this point. These experts will typically either take the form of a systems integrator (such as Echidna) or of a platform sales team. Just be aware that with either route, there’s a risk of some slight (to moderate) bias. For whatever reason, you might find that platform sales teams generally advocate for the use of their own platform, and systems integrators usually prefer one or two platforms over the rest. Nevertheless, both parties are experts and have deep knowledge regarding what different platforms can and can’t do, so it’s definitely smart to take advantage of their advice.

Measure costs and gaps, and make the call

At the end of the day, no platform is going to be perfect, and you’re going to have to make tradeoffs to choose the platform that you feel will best fulfill your long term business needs. While some platforms might be less expensive, they’ll likely also leave significant gaps when it comes to meeting your requirements. On the other end of the spectrum are the platforms that seem to fit every need perfectly but cost you an arm and a leg. The truth is this: unless you can do everything in-house, you’re going to have to trust either a systems integrator or a platform developer at some point. And although it might sound negative, this is by no means a bad thing – after all, both parties would want your business to succeed just as much as you do, as a means of securing future business for themselves as well as to have some work to brag about.

Adam Witbeck
Adam Witbeck
Adam's background includes ten years of technical sales experience. For some reason, he also happens to be obsessed with customer satisfaction and rapid response time. Feel free to email him with any questions.
  • Ann Mitchel

    Brilliant article! Thank you! I have question about Magento and will be very thankful if you clarify it for me. I want to make my online store and even found service that agreed to do it(http://echidnainc.com/three-steps-choosing-ecommerce-platform/) but in the sale time I read an article that Magento platform is not very profitable for small stores or for beginners. I heard that there are a lot of another platform that are available! I really like magento, I will ve very tahnkful for your quick reply!