The Right Way to Sell: How to Pick an eCommerce Platform for Your Site
If we had a magical machine that could tell us the best way to approach to every project, we would probably just sell that machine to every other agency for billions of dollars and then retire to Florida.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that machine. Instead, we have to rely on our knowledge and experience to answer one of the most difficult questions for every project: What platform and frameworks should we use?
This question can be especially difficult when it comes to eCommerce platforms. There are so many options, features, integrations, logistical factors, and other considerations that go into picking the right system. It’s a balancing act between cost — trying to complete the project at the most affordable price for the customer — and functionality (both current and future). No one wants to have a platform built that meets their immediate needs, but is outgrown 6 months later.
All of this means that there is a lot that goes into making the right decision. This blog post isn’t about picking the perfect solution for every web store (because that would be impossible). But, hopefully I can offer some insight about the considerations we take into account for eCommerce projects and how we attempt to analyze and scope online stores.
Many times, people will come to us with a simple request. Maybe they’re looking to sell a single product or just a few products. It’s usually not a main feature of their website, and they don’t anticipate a large number of orders.
In these cases, we can meet their needs using a simple setup that lets people check out through PayPal and purchase by clicking a button and then completing the purchase off site.
Of course, this isn’t for everyone.
This solution won’t provide order tracking or fulfillment processes that tie into inventory or other sophisticated tracking mechanisms.
But, if a simple ordering process is sufficient, like, say you want to offer t-shirts that support your organization as a tiny piece of your overall site and you don’t expect many orders to come pouring in, then this may be the best solution. It’s cheaper than a full-blown eCommerce platform, allows you to accept PayPal (which also works with all major credit cards and most bank accounts), and can be easily integrated into existing designs.
So, what happens when an online store become a bit more important to your overall site?
Then we look to other solutions that are better suited for handling dozens of products, inventory, and order fulfillment.
Our choices are usually WooCommerce or Shopp.
Both of these platforms are specifically designed to work with WordPress sites, which means that they are simple to integrate with sites that we’ve developed, without sacrificing any of the flexibility or content management capabilities that make WP our preferred CMS.
This solution is again for sites that use eCommerce as an extension of their site. But, we wouldn’t recommend it for a site that is entirely product focused.
Okay, now things are getting a bit more serious.
You’re probably a product-focused business that needs to put products front and center. You have enough functionality needs to consider jumping out of WordPress and taking an eCommerce-first approach.
If you’re selling a few hundred products and need some more advanced features, but you’re not quite at an enterprise level, then we generally suggest using ASPDotNetStorefront.
This is one of the most comprehensive and flexible solutions for stores that don’t have full-blown corporate scale.
First of all, this option will be focused entirely on eCommerce — rather than being an extension of a larger site. Of course, there will still be functionality to add more content, but if you’re mostly focused on selling products, then this is the solution for you.
ASPDotNetStorefront also provides functionality to integrate with third-party sites like Amazon and eBay, which make product management and order fulfillment seamless through a common system and interface.
There are many other options out there. Volusion, Shopify, BigCommerce, OSCommerce, Magento, InfusionSoft — just to name a few. Each of them offers their own unique strengths and weaknesses. So, while we often work with ASPDotNetStorefront, the system we choose will ultimately depend on your specific set of features and requirements.
Okay, so you’ve got the next Amazon just waiting to be built? We can help with that, too.
In most cases, when we’re working on enterprise-level projects, we opt to create a custom solution rather than customizing something off the shelf.
This is because, at this level, the dollars and cents price becomes less relevant than the perfect functionality and integration.
In most cases with enterprise-level storefronts, we can roll an entirely custom solution that integrates perfectly with all of the desired systems for a comparable or cheaper price than we could modify an existing platform to perform the same operations.
So, in these scenarios, it’s usually just logical to build a custom solution that works perfectly.
Of course, as with any custom development project, this can take any number of forms. The features, specs, and specific functionality will depend on the brand, product, service, logistics, and every other factor that goes into managing an enterprise-level supply chain.
But, don’t worry. We’re not just small-time shopping cart guys; we have plenty of heavy-lifting development chops to create a custom solution from scratch and deliver it to perfect spec.
Whether you need second-by-second product motion tracking or just a really simple interface for managing 100,000 unique SKUs, we can make it work for your business.