How to Choose the Right E-commerce Solution for me?
To implement an ecommerce solution, you can consider buying a model, building a model, hosted building model or SaaS model (Software as a Service). For small, medium and non-profit organizations, often the open source hosted model or a fits-all SaaS solution is suggested. Here are your choices:
- Model Number 1: You buy the model with ecommerce software and the licensed software
that goes with it. Features are rich, robust, well-tested and have prebuilt integration
tools available. On the downside, it is difficult to choose the right products,
and you can end up with software that you don’t need or ever use, but you have to
pay for the entire application. There is also a continuous investment by the vendor
for new features.
- Model Number 2: You are building your own ecommerce application and integrating
it with existing ERM, CRM and other applications. IT competence is needed, but you
can build what you need and take advantage of internal systems. The down side is
that it takes a long time to build, is highly risky, very expensive and a highly
skilled staff is imperative to success.
- Model Number 3: You have a mix between buying a software license and building your
own platform, which can be designed and enhanced by an internal IT team. You do
need to have IT skill sets, but you will have the flexibility of prepared volumes
that can easily be adapted to your own needs. The problem is it takes a lot of time
- Model Number 4: The SaaS model sells the application as a service. There is no hardware
investment. The software is provided as a one size-fits-all, and there is no customization
needed with a standard browser Internet connection. It only takes a few days to
get the application going as opposed to weeks or months. There are no upfront costs;
updates and upgrades are part of the contract and included in the monthly or annual
fee. The IT staff is there to run your ecommerce application, and you do not have
to worry about technical issues. Unfortunately, innovative features are not available
or don’t fit. Security could be a problem because you are sharing a platform.
What Do Customers Expect?
A good ecommerce website has more than just a home page, product page and shopping
cart. It should also provide information sheets, product descriptions, service addresses
and contact information for the products in a PDF format. If a customer has questions
about a product, there should be a pre-sales email support system, and customers
who do not receive answers within 24 hours do not normally purchase from that particular
website. Live-chat software is another successful method to communicate with customers,
and is highly effective in the development of good customer service. Clients want
easy access to ordering; links need to be easy to locate. Here are some additional
standard functions ecommerce customers expect:
- Product catalog which tells what you are offering. Now 3D models to examine products
are popular. Amazon, for example, allows you to browse excerpts of books.
- Shopping carts should remember items while the customer is browsing.
- Checkout should be easy and convenient; delivery should be confirmed.
- Payment options need to be available.
- Back orders, dispatch notifications, and new products offered on sale should be
- An advanced inventory with price changes and the ability to suggest related products
are a plus. For instance, if an item needs batteries, the appropriate type can be