How to choose an ecommerce product? - Part II
Posted: 05 February 2011 12:52 AM
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In the part I, I had discussed briefly about how most of the small businesses go about selecting a product, whereas a successful small businessmen would be careful and would evaluate the product based on various aspects listed below before making a choice.
I will relist all the important factors, which one should consider before buying an ecommerce product (http://www.ritecart.co.uk) or software for their company.
1.  Ease of configuration
2.  Ability to Scale
3.  Useful latest features
4.  Available marketing tools with the product
5.  Ability to analyze data (analytics, not only google analytics!!)
6.  Reports
7.  Integration (with other modules, Like epos with near realtime online/offline synchronization of data and other packaged application )
8.  Customer Service
9.  Technical Support
10.  Technical Implementation Aspects
11.  Build vs Buy
Ease of Configuration-
It is very important that the product is configurable and suited for one’s current needs and future needs, Like some of the things one may want to determine that how easy it is to
•    Add products, categories and catalogs. Can this be dynamically created using administrative tool and dynamically displayed on the user side? Can it support multiple images with different resolution to be displayed on the user side?
•    Look and manage all the orders placed by the administrator? Before placing the order, does it check for inventories? Does it notify the administrators, if the inventories go below a threshold value? Can the administrator mix and match the shipment to the customer?
•    Create new sales store and new warehouses for inventories? Can the store’s inventory be picked up from different warehouses?
•    Define several types of prices for the same product like list price, default price, component price, sale price etc? Can the price be dynamically setup using a rules engine?
•    Associate a product with host of features like size, color, height, width, UOM, density, length etc? Can the product be setup and shown on the user side on any of the feature mentioned above or any of your new custom features?
•    Return an order, look at shopping list/wish list, browse through the items last visited, go to most popular products in store, discounted product or special product in store, look at promotional products, place a review on the product, recommend a product or provide a valuable feedback and look at the products which are most sought by the people who had brought the same product as the customer in past?
•    Can I select or add a new payment processor easily? I may want to use PayPAL today but I may need GoogleCheck out tomorrow. How many Payment engines does the product support?
•    Customize my shipment company or add a new shipping company? Can I integrate directly with ups, RoyalMail, USPS, Fedex etc?
Ability to Scale
As the company grows, eCommerce infrastructure should be able to grow with you, supporting more customers, products, and traffic as needed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur, which is why scalability is such an important element in any ecommerce product (http://www.ritecart.co.uk) .
It is very important to know on what technology is the product built upon. Does the vendor have enough support or knowledge on the product?
This may sound like a mute point but all these factors do really matter. It may be easy for a vendor to use an opensource product and provide the required solution but most of the opensource solutions fail in the kind of support you get and to the kind of ownership you/vendor have on the product.
It has been my experience that even with the best of the open source products, when you look deep into the code, you realize that the pieces of code have been written by people who really don’t know what the other coders have been writing introducing lot of overheads in the code and a code which is in no way modular or object oriented, making it all the more difficult for any vendor company to provide support.
Important point is look for a company that treats your online store as an important long-term investment, and has a product with that track record. These priorities will keep you and your site up and running—whether your order volume is five a day or five thousand—without skipping a beat. Remember, an eCommerce company or product should support the total growth of your business, not limit it.

Useful latest features
Although this may not sound important or required but this does remain one of the most important criteria while selecting an online ecommerce solution or product.
The latest features provide means and ways to improve your marketability and thereby the sale of your product. To name a few,
•    Products Last visited by the user
•    Ability to provide reviews by the user
•    Ability to list down the product rated higher by user community
•    Create Composite product and offer discount for composite products
•    Dynamic pricing of composite products. To price dynamically user created composite products

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