With so many SAP eCommerce providers out there all fighting for attention, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to choose the right platform for you, and you’ll find the decision much easier.
We know that choosing an eCommerce platform can seem like a daunting and intimidating task – so many names, so many solutions and so many promises that may or may not be kept by the vendors all vying for your custom. That’s why we came up with this guide to choosing the right platform for you, and all you need to do is ask yourself the following questions…
Step One: Will my customers be getting the functionality they expect?
You need to be safe in the knowledge that the solution you go for is capable of delivering the user experience that you want to provide. In terms of features and functionality, it has never been harder to impress a consumer, as they have such heightened expectations and demanding needs from their eCommerce encounters.
As well as all this, the platform must also represent your brand through and through, and in the right way. Consistency is absolutely key, which is why we make it one of our top priorities. The reason you undertake this kind of project is to drive forward your business and its growth, so choosing a developer which keeps all of these factors in mind is crucial to your decision-making process.
Step Two: How secure do I want my data to be?
This is the top priority for most eCommerce companies, because not only are we talking about the security of your platform and your details, but the details of your customers which can easily be hacked and abused. How do you ensure that the data stored in your eCommerce solution is as secure as that which resides within your core business platform?
For us, this is an easy question to answer – you need a solution which is built in the SAP ERP platform itself so that it’s covered by the same enterprise level security. This is what we refer to as a native solution; all other solutions which are built with integration work involved not only cost you a lot financially, but in labour too, as the added complication can cause all kinds of security issues.
Step Three: Do I need to future-proof this?
The next problem people tend to come across when looking into eCommerce platforms is scalability and general future-proofing practices. The eCommerce landscape changes so rapidly that you never know where it is heading next, so the best option for most is to bite the bullet and go with a solution which may seem a little more complex than they would have liked. This will evolve to your needs and aid growth, rather than slow it down by needing new versions and upgrades, like so many other solutions.
You never want to find yourself in the position where you have outgrown your eCommerce solution, so go for a platform which is completely scalable. A great example of this is market expansion, and the implementation of multi-currency and multi-lingual functionality. Even if it’s not crucial to your business now, plans can change quickly, and you may want to seize a territorial opportunity. When this happens, you need to know that your platform can handle it as readily as you can. How painful would it be to start from scratch with your eCommerce just because you want to move into a new market?
Step Four: Will I get any support with my solution?
Running a successful business does not necessarily make you an eCommerce expert, so you need to make sure that you’re employing a vendor who has all the experts you could need. During the project delivery process, there are elements from every area of expertise that you need to anticipate, so you should look to a provider who can cover all of them with efficiency and professionalism – which is a common problem with most providers out there.
We have SAP experts, creative teams and eCommerce professionals all working as one entity, which removes grey areas of responsibility and reduces the concerns caused by having individual teams working on the various elements – you don’t need to worry about how all these elements will pull together and interact when the time for implementation comes. Make sure that you opt for a provider who employs experts who intrinsically understand both SAP and eCommerce.
Step Five: I have more than one portal, so where does that leave me?
Finding the right solution can seem even scarier to handle if you have several sites and portals which need to work seamlessly – the whole thing can seem like one huge mess if you go for the wrong solution, so don’t rush into it. What you need in this instance is a truly omni-channel strategy, where B2C websites, trade counters, B2B portals and so on, are all delivered via a joined-up, fluid user experience from one central, single platform.
One problem you will come across when searching for an answer to this question is that most eCommerce solutions deal with this problem by managing each of these areas individually, while utilising multiple Content Management Systems. This of course means extra work and no synergy between touchpoints, which is why you must opt for a native solution which can manage all of these elements from one central location. It will save you time, money and several headaches.
Step Six: How do I know the front-end and back-end will work together?
The solution you choose needs to deliver on the back-end of your business as well as on the front-end; they’re both equally important and the project will undoubtedly fall down unless the eCommerce solution can deliver on both these fronts. That’s why you need a solution that is tightly aligned to your core business systems, yet which features a functionally-rich front-end to deliver the user experience expected by today’s customer base – whether B2C or B2B.
If you choose an external solution, how much data residing within your core business platform will you need to duplicate? How much will this cost? And how do you integrate these systems so that the information which needs to be in both areas actually appears in both? With these external solutions, real-time data can never be achieved in both locations, as there is simply too much back-and-forth between them, which is again why our native solution is the better option. It is already built into SAP, always supplying you from a single data repository when you and your customers need it.
Choosing the right solution is a difficult decision, but if you choose wisely it will stand you and your business in good stead for years to come, no matter what the changing marketplace brings.
To re-cap, here are those all-important five questions to ask yourself when you come to making your decision:
1) Will my customers be getting the functionality they expect?
2) How secure do I want my data to be?
3) Do I need to future-proof this?
4) Will I get any support with my solution?
5) I have more than one portal, so where does that leave me?
6) How do I know the front-end and back-end will work together?
If you can confidently answer these questions, it will point you to the most comprehensive solution on the market which is right for your business.
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