How your Expected Online Revenue Can Impact the Ecommerce Platform you Choose
The best ecommerce platform is the one that best meets the needs of your unique business. If you’re thinking of choosing an ecommerce platform for your business but you aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help. There are a few key tenants to keep in mind when selecting an ecommerce platform — your selling approach, your expected revenue and all the factors associated with it, and the intricacies of each platform.
Our blog series will break down the contents of our Ecommerce Platform Comparison Guide so that you can find the information that best aids in your platform decision-making process.
After knowing how you intend to sell online, it is crucial to understand your expected revenue and all things that go along with it. This is the second step to understanding your business and platform needs. We’ll cover some of the key factors that encompass your expected revenue and what that means when choosing an ecommerce platform.
What is your expected online revenue?
Knowing how much revenue you expect to generate online can be helpful to prevent over-building (or worse) under-building your ecommerce platform.
Companies with simple ecommerce needs and expecting fairly small incremental revenue from their online store should avoid large integration projects and over-building. A smaller business would be incapable of taking full advantage of the customization offerings of the larger platforms, and would find themselves presented with a number of options that they have no use for.
However, as soon as you start having to process 50+ orders a day, and are manually updating 1,000 product prices to keep a catalog current — you’ll want to have more integrations, which will add more complexity. For enterprise-level businesses, a platform with customization capability is usually a requirement for a few different reasons.
- Owning your own code. Owning your own code means that in the instance you need to migrate your website to an entirely new platform, you won’t lose everything. This also means that you maintain ownership over product content, as well as user data.
- Scalability. You want to invest in a website that is capable of growing alongside your business so that you don’t find yourself migrating to a larger platform within a few years.
Platform Market Share
Popularity should be a consideration when choosing your website platform for a number of reasons. A wider adoption means a larger development community. This means it can be easier for you to find development assistance instead of depending on a single developer. It also indicates the likelihood of having ongoing support for your platform.
When you put in a platform, you're going to be adopting the company behind it, the solution providers who customize and support it, and the technology providers who provide integrations, hosting, and extensions to that platform. With your ecommerce platform comes a full ecosystem of people and tech that will be part of it. Each platform, including open source platforms, are still dependent on receiving ongoing updates from their internal development teams, so broad adoption in the market is helpful (though the market share of any one platform is still very fragmented, there is no single leader with even 10% of the market share).
You can check the platform market share of an ecommerce platform and explore other factors using a free tool, such as BuiltWith.
While your offerings, business, and workflow are unique, the structure of certain ecommerce platforms may benefit the online selling experience of certain industries more than others. For example, there are some platforms exclusively focused on wineries and their unique business needs — like wine clubs. Although we don’t recommend adopting a platform simply because it’s what your competitors are on, it can be worth looking into.
Annual Licensing Costs
Annual licensing costs can range in expense from less than $300 a year to upwards of hundreds of thousands. Some ecommerce platforms are completely free to use but provide no platform support.
From the outset, annual licensing costs can seem prohibitive. Although it may look expensive from the outside, paying for licensing covers a lot of additional costs and will save you both time and money in the long run.
Licensing costs can cover things like hosting, web operations, platform security, and support from the team that built the platform and knows it best. Managing each of those services on your own, individually, can be difficult and ultimately end up costing you the same as a license would have. Keep in mind there's more to learn about the total cost of operating an Adobe Commerce (Magento) website and a Shopify website.
If your business is large enough to be able to cover licensing costs, it’s highly likely that is a decision you won’t regret.
No ecommerce systems are ready right out of the box. They will require web design, development, integrations with any other additional third-party tools, and whatever other customization your branded storefront needs.
With some SaaS platforms, you have access to a readily available administrative interface that you can use to manage your website’s basic layout, design, and product pages. These are meant for administrators and merchants with less technical experience.
On the other hand, more complex platforms work well out of the box, but are expected to be configured to a merchant’s unique needs and themed to their brand.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison Guide
Which is best for your business? We compare the top ecommerce platforms.
Access to the Code Base
Platforms where your development team has access to the core code are significantly easier to extend, integrate, and adapt. For example, with access to the source code, experienced developers can write custom extensions for your specific order management process and in-house tools. SaaS platforms on fully hosted environments can also be extended, but through packaged plugins or purely through the API.
Ability to Connect With Other Systems
No website exists in a vacuum, and this is especially true with ecommerce systems. Enterprise-level ecommerce platforms will require third-party solutions to bring your store online. At minimum, this means a payment gateway, shipping services, and tax estimation — not to mention the CRM integrations, analytics packages, conversion optimization tools, ratings, returns processing, shipping/fulfillment vendors, accounting tools, and ERP systems that your team will likely have. It’s a long list.
You’ll want the ability to connect into these systems, and that’s often at the center of your commerce decision. Smaller merchants can get by using pre-built systems with available connectors. However, rapid growth or any unique business scenarios will throw simplicity out the window. No website exists in a vacuum, and this is especially true with ecommerce systems.
Ease of Use for Your Team
How quickly will your team be able to pick up this tool? With some platforms it’s quite easy to jump in and learn, but with other platforms the learning curve really depends on how you’ve built things out. Having a robust, powerful ecommerce platform becomes pointless if your team can’t manage it.
Developer Community Size
An active, large development community is a good sign for your platform. When your ecommerce platform needs development work, an expert developer won’t be hard to find. It also indicates a longer lifespan, improving technology, and better security for your platform.
The larger the development community, the more developers actively work on your ecommerce platform’s codebase. This means that your platform is constantly being updated to reflect the most recent technology and security requirements. Without those updates, your system starts to age rapidly, affecting UX, security, and necessitating an expensive migration rather than a periodic upgrade.
This can be a little hard to measure from the outside, often platforms will brag about the size of their developer community. One place to look would be the number of contributed extensions or apps, or perhaps the number of posts and activity on a place like Stack Overflow.
We’re happy to aid you in choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business. Remember, when selecting an ecommerce platform — conceptualize your selling approach, your expected revenue and all the factors associated with it, and understand the intricacies of each platform.
This is the second part of our blog series which covered how your expected business revenue can influence which ecommerce platform you should choose. The other blogs in this series cover your selling approach and the ins and outs of each individual platform.
And don’t forget, you can always download our full Ecommerce Platform Comparison Guide if you’d like the full guide all at once.
If you have any questions, feel free to set up a quick 30-minute intro call with us. We’d love to hear about your ecommerce project.
Want more? Here are the other related blogs in this series:
- Why Your Approach to Selling Matters When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
- Top 4 Ecommerce Platforms: How to Choose Which Is Best for Your Business