Choosing the right tools for your e-commerce business

Choosing the right tools to augment the customer experience and drive operational efficiency can be daunting, overwhelming and downright painful.

When I use the word “tools”, I’m referring to the email marketing, live chat, shipping and postage, reviews, personalisation, loyalty programs, data and insights and site search solutions that you might use on top of your commerce platform. And under each of them, there are dozens of great platforms offering diverse features, services, pricing and support.

It’s an overwhelming list, and it can seem impossible or even risky to decide which tool to use. But let’s say you have no other option but to select your business’s e-commerce tools yourself. How should you approach the decision-making process?

When assessing a tool it is important first to understand the motivation for a tool change or introduction, as this will impact your ability to achieve your objectives.

A new tool may be introduced and implemented for some of these reasons:

  • Operational efficiency: to automate or streamline a manual task
  • Improve experience: to simplify a difficult interaction for your customers
  • Drive revenue: to create activities and events that increase average order value, win back old customers, and upsell existing customers
  • Reconfigure systems architecture: to enable the change or migration of other components within the business tech stack
  • Cost-saving: to deliver savings for the total cost of ownership of the online operation

Once you know why you want for a new tool, it’s critical to work out how to understand, rate and in turn decide on the best one.

Criteria and tips for choosing the best tools

1. Budget

How much budget do you have available to invest in this tool, and what is the cost structure? Be sure to ask and understand:

  • Setup costs: what are they, and what do they include?
  • Monthly license fees: is the level of the license is impacted by database numbers, sales figures, etc.?

2. Location and support

Be cautious of local sales teams with support teams based overseas. If the team is based in Europe, there may be a lag time of 24 hours if you need to log a ticket or have a question. A great question to ask is whether they provide any commitments on response times. Even better, ask about the average ticket resolution timeframe for customers on the same plan or license agreement you are considering. (They may not give this to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!)

3. Scalability

Can the tool scale and grow with your business? You might be doing $200,000 in online orders per month now, but what happens if that doubles, or triples? What will happen if you open five new locations across two new countries?

4. Features

Performing a simple analysis of the cost versus features can help you make the right decision and ensure you are unlocking the best features of the tool for the right price.

5. Ease of use and training

Can your team understand how to use the tool and get the best out of it? Is there training, online resources or demonstrations available? Alternatively, do you work with an agency that has a partnership with the tool?

6. Integrations

The word “integration” can send chills down the spine of most people in e-commerce. Does X talk with Y? Do we have a central source of truth? If tool X is implemented, does it affect the running of tool Y?

The above is a great start, but if in doubt, asks for the basics: how much, what does it do, can you show me, and how long will it take to implement?

Laura Qureshi, Managing Director, Overdose Digital

This story first appeared on our sister publication Internet Retailing

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