Top ten questions to ask to eCommerce service providers
Better prices, convenience and variety are some of the factors to stimulate online shopping revolution. Owning an online store is not only a brand requirement but also an essential element to reach to customers directly. Security, frauds, return policy and personal feel were some of the reasons that were hindering customer behavior to shop online. Technological advancements have curtailed these risks and other benefits are outweighing the drawbacks making it lucrative to shop online.
It is imperative that an online store should be user friendly, safe, secure and mobile responsive to offer unforgettable user experience. Right choice of eCommerce platform is the stepping stone and foundation for great eCommerce portal. Consider below questions to discuss with eCommerce service providers to help you choose the right eCommerce platform for your online store.
1. What would be the cost comparison of various eCommerce platforms?
There are three types of eCommerce platforms available namely Licensed Shopping Cart, Hosted Shopping Cart and Custom Shopping Cart. Each offers varying cost structure. Licensed shopping cart requires one time license fees. Hosted shopping cart offers monthly or yearly recurring charges and some have transaction charges as well. It is good to study the cost comparison of each platform in question.
2. What is the development timeline?
Development time is directly proportional to development cost and opportunity loss. Custom eCommerce solution sounds appealing compared to licensed shopping website and hosted shopping websites however it requires longer development time and thus requires higher investment. This indirectly mean opportunity loss for the period when website is under development. One needs to carefully analyze to strike a balance between investment, opportunity loss and other business parameters.
3. Is my website secure?
Security and online fraud were biggest setback for online shopping. Technological advancements has subdued these risks however it has not been completely eliminated. It is apparent that your online store should be safe and secure for online transactions. One should discuss security measures of specific platform in question to build the website to ensure zero tolerance to security breaches.
4. Who would host my eCommerce website and what would it cost?
Server response time, uptime, security measures, service level agreement and support are some of the factors to determine best website hosting server. Cost is also an important factor to consider. Website performance is heavily depending on right choice of server. Server choice depends on eCommerce model choice and underpinning technology.
5. What would be the recurring cost to maintain the eCommerce platform?
Timely support and maintenance are very important to maintain smoothly running eCommerce platform to manage technical glitches, bugs and other usability issues. This requires continuous and timely support from eCommerce service provider. Other back office operations like inventory management, order management, customer data management and restore would also require technical assistance. It is imperative to discuss support and maintenance arrangement and its cost.
6. Which payment gateway is suitable for the said eCommerce platform?
Every eCommerce platform has compatibility issues with certain payment gateways. It is good to discuss payment gateway of your choice with service provider to ensure safe and secure online payment processing.
7. Is my website user friendly and mobile responsive?
Usage of mobile is advancing at very high pace. It is predicted that mobile usage for online shopping would outweigh the normal website usage from computers very soon. This requires that your website is mobile responsive and users can have uninterrupted shopping experience through mobile.
8. What would be the speed of my website?
User experience highly depends on website speed and performance. Many studies and articles have been published emphasizing the importance of website speed for better user experience and its impact on sales. The average online shopper is highly impatient and does not like to wait for information to load. It is believed that every millisecond can have an impact on purchasing behavior and decision making process of an online shopper.
9. Is back office administration of website user friendly?
If you are an end-user, it is very important to understand how back office administration works for your online store. One needs to learn this so that inventory and orders can be managed smoothly without requiring any assistance from vendor every now and then. User friendly back office administration would subdue your headache to manage back office operations.
10. Does website / platform offers inline support for marketing/SEO?
Merely online store does not help you to boost product sales. One requires dedicated efforts to market the same to persuade online shoppers to buy your products or services. Online marketing is becoming prominent these days as people search products and services through google and other search engines online. It is evident that it would be a good strategy to discuss your marketing plans with eCommerce service provider to make sure the website has prerequisites required for your online marketing campaigns.
eCommerce website is your lifeline to remain in business. Questions discussed will you help you to choose the right eCommerce service provider and platform though this list is an indicative and unordered list and not an exhaustive one.
Very best luck with your online shop!