With the rise of online selling across the globe there is also a rise in selling platforms, marketing tools and integrations within the eCommerce space. Brands dabbling in eCommerce for the first time can easily be taken aback with the vast tools out there promising a seamless “Plug n’ Play” integration which will provide features to “10X” your conversion rate and use various other marketing abbreviations which needs its own glossary to understand.. (Find glossary here)

For eCommerce managers and tech lead’s tasked with creating a roadmap to improve their online store journey, I have outlined some key points to consider when shopping for a new platforms/tools for your store.

Agree to a measurable goal

Most software vendors will offer to improve various metrics for your store which can make you lose focus on the problem you are trying to solve in your customers journey, this could be the total number of users completing checkout, the add to basket rate or the open rate of your emails. For each integration project a metric should be agreed internally which you believe will help make a succesful project, it can be easy to just stick to “conversion rate” as your only metric however conversion rate is influenced by many other user behaviors which in many cases can be rounded down to a key user behavior metric.

Once a metric is agreed, this needs to be communicated clearly to your potential software vendors. Having a clear metric will not only save you time in choosing the right vendors but will also help them to involve the correct “expert” resources internally to show exactly how they can help you.

Understanding the risks of using “all-in-one” platforms

An “all-in-one” tool can initially sound amazing, you invest in one tool but the ROI will be multiple, you could free up space in your roadmap not needing future integrations.. Not exactly. You should be extremely careful with “all-in-one” platforms as they can come with a big price tags and tie-ins.

“Jack of all trades, master of none” When a software vendor tries to do it all there are chances it will not do a good job at any of them, so this is where you would again focus back to your main success metric for your project and ensure you don’t lose sight of that while learning all the amazing things your vendor can do for you.

The fallacy of one integration. Chances are if your vendor is offering to provide multiple services in one platform then there will probably need to be a bigger integration, or an integration each time you activate a new feature, so ensure your technical team have a walkthrough of the full integration.

Finally, “all-in-one” platforms have a plethora of features which means it will usually need various skills to make use of all the features, often companies will integrate platforms offering many features then realise they did not have the inhouse skillset to use and apply the features for the business.

Treading carefully around “Easy and Seamless to install” Plugins for your store

For any technology integration all parties involved will agree the words “easy and seamless” is music to their ears. However, after many “plug n play” integrations i’ve learnt to be weary of this. Each store is unique, and thus it can mean a one size fits all plugin will not work for every store, before timelines are established I would advice the vendor teams walkthrough plugin code with your internal tech team to evaluate the impact of the extension, this would help reduce situations of unexpected extension compatibility issues adding extra hours to project timeline.

Negotiate a trial period

If a vendor is offering a trial period; take it, if not negotiate a trial period based on hitting your projects metrics, this will give some financial incentive to your software vendor to really deliver their solution to meet your needs. You’re not expecting the vendor to suddenly fix all your problems during the trial phase, its to see practically how your team and their team collaborate and if there is at least some progress to fixing your initial problem and some positive movement on your projects metric.

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