eCommerce Vendors & How to Choose the Best for your Online Store
The eCommerce vendor may set the course for your online business performance.
You want to get your business online. After all, statistics foresee that, as of 2021, roughly 2.14 billion people will be active digital buyers. This is exactly why the rapidly growing eCommerce industry draws in more and more businesses each year.
Assuming you’d like to ensure a steady online presence for your store and have a well-defined strategy in place, the time has come to make a crucial choice.
Regardless of whether you’re targeting the B2B or the B2C market, you now need to pick a vendor for your future website. But how do you go about finding one that suits your expectations and needs? Or, better yet, what’s the criteria you should consider early on?
But what exactly does an eCommerce Vendor provide?
Oftentimes, you’ll find the terms eCommerce vendor and eCommerce platform used interchangeably.
E-commerce platforms supply the necessary software for most of your digital services. Think of it as the functional groundwork needed to run your online store. Such a platform can be either open-source or proprietary.
If you’re curious to know more, we’ve already drawn a quick comparison between some of the industry giants: Shopify, Magento 2, and WooCommerce.
However, manipulating this type of software can be a truly daunting task. For example, platforms like WooCommerce and Magento require you to deal with everything from product management to CRM and data security.
Therefore, unless you’ve got your own qualified tech team ready to jump in and build your website from scratch, it’s highly advisable that you consult an industry professional.
That’s exactly when the eCommerce Vendor steps in. In brief, this is a company specialized in delivering eCommerce services. These are the people setting up your page and getting it live (software development).
But, in some cases, their services might also stretch to long-term site maintenance, customer support, and online marketing strategies.
Considering the fairly large vendor market, it’s crucial to understand the types of services being put on the table.
Define the expectations for your online store
If you invest in an eCommerce platform, you undoubtedly do so in anticipation of the long-term profit and benefits that only digitalized businesses enjoy. As a first step, you should be able to evaluate your needs and adjust your budget accordingly.
When you contact a potential vendor, knowing how much time and effort you’re willing to devote to this process will really get the conversation going.
From the very beginning, you must be truly clear about your needs. Do you already have a preferred eCommerce software in mind? What do you want your website to feel like? Are there any extra features you’d like to see on your website? And what of maintenance and online data security? The list may go on.
Once you know what you want, we suggest putting it all together into a request for proposal (RFP). If you’ve also done the technical research, then include the desired architecture, technology, and platform. A detailed RFP makes it easy for potential vendors to come back with a suitable offer.
Research the eCommerce vendor market: local vs. global
Let us assume you’ve got a fair idea of what you need and how much you’re willing to invest in your web store. At this stage, you should start researching the market for any company whose services align with your business requirements.
As a first step, you can explore locally for eCommerce solutions. If you’re not satisfied, don’t be afraid to venture into the global eCommerce market, as many vendors operate on an international level.
List out your options (you can even use a spreadsheet). As soon as you’ve gathered up a fair number, the real fun begins.
Core criteria for choosing an eCommerce vendor
Next, we’ll suggest 5 of the most important things to compare between the different eCommerce vendors you’ve managed to identify.
1. Market Experience – a proven portfolio
It’s generally available on their website. Any industry professional will make an effort to list out any previous projects they’ve worked on. You can also check the web for additional reviews and testimonies.
2. Business Alignment
Have they worked with similar companies? For example, if you’re planning to build a web store for jewelry retail, check the vendor’s portfolio for similar projects. Then move on to examining the websites in question and perform a brief quality assessment.
3. Quality control systems
Does the company have a solid QMS in place? Additionally, are they able to measure up their work against the relevant metrics?
After all, we recognize a successful store not only by design and UX. Even with a beautiful and functional site, it’s all pointless if your target customers aren’t reaching it. In order to ensure page landings and future profit, the vendor’s team must have the right SEO knowledge. Additionally, make sure they have the necessary resources to scale up your business in time.
4. Compatibility, adaptability, scalability
For an eCommerce vendor, industry skill is a must. However, beyond skill level, assess the way they interact with your team and check for compatibility. A professional but flexible mindset, as well as openness to feedback on both parts, can ensure that the entire online transition process runs smoothly and matches your initial expectations. You can already get a good idea of how your future interactions will carry out during the trial or demo stage.
5. Competitive Packages
Finally, a look at prices. Once the vendors respond with offers to your RFPs, it’s time to compare their proposals. Assess carefully, keeping in mind the features, the quality delivered, and the costs involved. If you can’t quite decide by yourself, you can consult an eCommerce advisor.
Book discussions and demos with your favorites. Afterward, make a final evaluation and set for the vendor that best matches the criteria described here, as well as any other metrics you’ll find relevant to the success of your online store.