Practical Ecommerce

How to select a new ecommerce platform

In “Why change ecommerce platforms?,” my post last month, I discussed my decision to switch ecommerce platforms — from Volusion to Bigcommerce — in the fall of 2013. I made that decision based on several things that I felt were holding us back. Since the migration, I’ve talked to dozens of folks who have felt the similar pain points with their current provider. They’ve asked what they should look for in a new ecommerce platform.

First, it’s important to figure out why you’re dissatisfied with your current solution. For me, there was a discrepancy between the reports that Volusion could generate and the monthly statement from my payment gateway. After months of paying my bookkeeper to figure out the reports, it reached the point where we could no longer proceed. More order volume meant more time spent on the reports. It was major flaw in our operation.

Once I made my mind up about the change, the little things I had learned to live with suddenly became more pronounced: the delay in core feature upgrades, the theme limitations, and all of the other things I wished for.

As I noted in my last post, my trial run with Bigcommerce convinced me to switch. We still use Bigcommerce today. I especially liked Bigcommerce’s modern user interface, extensive customization, and, even back then, elegant themes. Before finalizing the decision, however, I looked at Shopify and WooCommerce, among others. I quickly learned that there were so many solutions I could have gone with that I needed to come up with a quick way narrow down the list.

I took a 360-degree view of the various platforms before committing. This is so important today, as the barrier to entry for startups is so low and half of them fail in the first year. The last thing I wanted is to commit to a new ecommerce platform and have it go under, taking the Stupid Cancer store with it.

There are many telltale signs of a solid provider. I considered the clients that the platforms cite in their case studies. While some of the names may not ring a bell, you may find that, with a little research, they are very similar to your business.

Another part of the selection process is the existence of an app store. I evaluate which apps are most popular and how recent the new apps are. I also determine which shopping carts the apps integrate with. In my experience, developers usually build apps for Bigcommerce and Shopify before others.

To round out the selection process, I consider technical guides, blog posts, and ebooks. Bigcommerce has a vast knowledge base and an industry-leading blog that conveys both industry news and inspirational ideas to expand our business.

The last thing you want after replatforming is to do it again soon. By conducting your homework, taking advantage of free trials, and hearing what others have to say, you should be in good shape to decide which platform is best for your company. The switch can seem daunting. But it may just be the catalyst to reach the next level of success in your business.

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Comments ( 5 )

  1. Patrick Kuehn March 15, 2016 Reply

    Good tips. How much did price play in your decision? Did you consider Magento?

  2. georgette March 16, 2016 Reply

    Did you consider Shopify?

  3. Justin Hospie March 16, 2016 Reply
  4. Monica March 31, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am also interested in moving to Bigcommerce but the problem is that we have a huge catalog of products. Bigcommerce is ready to migrate everything including SEO data. But I am scared that ranking in google will fall down with the migration. With current cart, it is very difficult to keep up with the technology updates. Everything need to be customized but their search engine plugin is giving us good rankings. My current cart requires a version upgrade to make it responsive and it is very pricey to get the new templates and apps. All the custom work has to be repeated on this newer version of current cart. Very frustrating, It has been a month and sleepless nights. But still don’t know what to do. In the long run it will be more cost effective to switch to Bigcommerce to avoid any custom development work in the future. But should I take a chance with SEO rankings?

  5. Mark Franz October 5, 2016 Reply

    Good article.

    For those, how have no time to do research, I would suggest 2 options.

    If you like to pay some money every month, go with Shopify. You’re stuck with features, but less to worry about.

    If you need to build something custom, try free Abantecart. Do not step into Magento.

    Above is based on my experience and reviews