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Business Management

Top Tips: Be the boss of your ecommerce software

18-03-2015-be-the-boss-of-your-ecommerce-softwareRichard Noble joined Tangent Snowball as development team lead, progressing to technical/solutions architect, and then assuming the position of technical director, a year and a half ago. In his current role, Richard has responsibility for technical strategy; he oversees the technical architecture of projects, manages technical teams, and designs solutions to problems.

In particular, Richard focuses on tech builds including: solid, modular technical and system architecture, non-blocking data pipelines, and big data. He is an opinionated polyglot software engineer and technical odd-jobs man.

Richard shares his top tips for not letting your ecommerce software dictate how your business works.

An inflexible and restrictive ecommerce platform will impact a business drastically over time.  This manifests itself by changes getting slower and more expensive and new features becoming less feasible. Ultimately, this stops your business being able to adapt to an ever-changing market.  This doesn’t have to be the case. Carefully selecting your e-commerce platform can ensure your online store can adapt to future changes. Here are some top tips to help select the best platform for your business and limit the possibility that your software will dictate how your business works.

Beware of ecommerce platforms with many ‘out of the box’ features - One can easily be tempted into purchasing an all-singing-all-dancing ecommerce platform, with many ‘out-of-the-box’ features. At the time such a platform seems wonderful. However, you should be wary of a platform that promises the world. Whilst this may be great in the short term, such platforms are not built with flexibility in mind and will therefore be limited in their ability to adapt to your future business needs. Out-of-the-box features have made decisions and assumptions about how your selling experience will work. These are rarely the correct decisions in the long term.

Think ahead - When choosing your ecommerce platform it is imperative that you think beyond the first few months. E-commerce is constantly changing and you need a platform that can adapt to the way customers want to shop. Favour long-term flexibility over short-term features.

Trial new features - Treat your online store as a start-up where you are constantly trialling new features to see what increases sales. Don’t be afraid to discard features if they don’t make a difference. Let your customers dictate how your store should work.

Don’t let less than perfect become the norm - When a platform can no longer flex with your business, you’ll start to see friction around how staff and customers interact with the site. This generally leads to convoluted workarounds where your business will be doing everything it can to accommodate your ecommerce platform, rather than the correct way around. This is the danger sign – it’s time to act and switch to a more flexible framework.

Be informed: consider all the options - When the time comes to look for a new ecommerce platform, don’t simply pour money into your existing one, as the platform will eventually break if you just bolt things on. It is therefore wise to consider alternative platforms.

To summarise, act like a start-up; be flexible and agile in your approach and seek these qualities in your software. Adopt a long term view and stay away from an ecommerce platform optimised for short term appeal. Beware of platforms that offer a plethora of features and make sure you keep your business objectives in mind when choosing your software. Following these tips will help hugely to ensure that you don’t fall into the situation where your software dictates how your business works.

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