Ecommerce platforms | Tips to choose and switch your provider
The beating heart of any ecommerce business is the platform it’s built on. This sits at the centre of any online company, providing the lifeblood that powers its other elements. That could be the nuts and bolts needed to sell goods and services, such as a storefront or checkout page. But it can also be the visions and ideas yet realised, those air-punch ambitions that can help make a successful business truly great. The heart helps bring it all to life.
Because of this, making sure you’re using the right ecommerce platform is vital. After all, if the heart doesn’t work your business won’t live, let alone thrive.
One person who knows this all too well is Daan Koomen, Mollie’s head of sales engineering. Before joining Mollie, Daan spent six years working for ecommerce platform Lightspeed, helping to build hundreds of online businesses – from small startups to enterprise-sized firms.
Business is in Daan’s heart. He started in retail when he was 15 and has spent years helping companies find solutions that perfectly suit their needs. He’s also an expert in assisting firms to switch to a new platform to drive growth.
Here Daan shares expert tips and insights about optimising your ecommerce platform and switching to a new provider.
Tips to optimise your ecommerce platform
Define your business goals
The first thing to consider when looking for a new ecommerce platform is your goals. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to choose a platform without planning what you need it to do. Think about the who, why, and what. Consider these things:
– Who is your target group?
– What do they need?
– What features does your business need?
– How fast do you want to scale?
– What does your business’s future look like?
“You need to validate the platform that aligns as closely as possible to your business’s goals,” Daan explains. “The biggest mistake I see firms make is not having a project plan or a list of goals when choosing an ecommerce platform.
“Switching providers can be a great way to meet your business’s changing needs, or satisfy your developing customer base. Maybe you need to work with a dropshipper to satisfy your customers’ needs, or have to use a headless solution or PWA to work perfectly on mobile. You need to assess all your requirements first and use that to choose your platform.
“When switching, assess the gaps in your business. Think about the challenges you face so you can find a platform that solves them. That’s the starting point of any switch.”
Assess the ecosystem
Another thing to consider when choosing a new platform is the integrations and features it offers your business. Switching to a new platform can help you overcome your current challenges, but you need to make sure it also offers the functionalities that you already depend on.
“Make sure to determine what integrations you need and fully explore the features a platform offers,” says Daan. “Think about whether the platform integrates with tech partners like Mollie who can help you get the best return on investment possible. The ecosystem is important to meeting your goals and ensuring your customers are happy. It needs to provide everything your business needs and help you work as efficiently as possible – whether that’s a PSP helping you to accept international payment methods or accounting software that can keep your books in order.”
Ask for support
Another consideration is the support a platform offers. They should fully support you from the start of the sales process. Think about your business’s future and ask questions about it, such as how the platform will help as you scale or move into new markets.
“Customers need to be informed properly about what they’re signing up for and be able to talk to human support staff in their language,” says Daan. “The best platforms have IT, partner designers, and others on hand to offer guidance. Their job is to help you find the perfect solution for your business and to scale or switch easily. Anything less is not good enough.”
Switching to a new provider can have many benefits for your business (more on that below), but it’s essential to have the right support when moving to a new provider. Make it seem simple by developing a project plan and working with the platform’s team to help solve any problems that might arise during the process.
“There’s a lot of elements that you need to move over when you’re moving to a new provider – including your SEO functions, design elements, and tech integrations. A good partner will help you along the way, solving issues and using a sandbox environment to keep your site online for as long as possible while you switch.”
Don’t underestimate your design
Think about walking into a store and not being able to find anything or roaming around in search of a cash register when you decide to make a purchase. You’d likely end up walking out without buying anything. This is exactly the same as visiting a poorly designed online store.
“Design isn’t always top of mind for ecommerce businesses, but it should be,” explains Daan. “A good user experience can be vital to optimising conversion. Think about investing in a web designer who can help create a great UX, optimise your SEO through design, and run A/B tests to improve what you do. That can help you experiment and learn at speed. You will automatically earn your investment back by increasing your sales.
“When you’re switching, you should be able to take your branding and storefront to another platform. When you’re speaking to a new platform, ask about tools to help you do this, and if you’re developing custom solutions speak to the developer to ensure you can transfer them to a new provider.”
Use data to excel
Data is highly undervalued in ecommerce. After all, it can help you measure the impact of activities, increase conversion, assess what’s working, and optimise what you do. If you’re not an analyst, think about whether you can integrate with other software that can provide the data you need and use it to recommend improvements. Also remember that some platforms don’t let you export your data, so explore what’s possible before choosing a provider.
“There are solutions on the market that work with platforms and businesses to develop new features and functionalities,” Daan explains. “They build the features based on market need. That means you can access the data you need and even create custom reports and dashboards to help.
“When switching, it’s highly likely that your business is growing. Switching to a new platform should allow you to upgrade what you do. So, assess what data tools the platform offers or the integrations – if you do this early you can start improving your business from the moment you start using your new provider.”
Determine the best time to switch
Switching your ecommerce platform isn’t a decision you should take lightly, but it can have enormous advantages for your business. But knowing the right time to change your provider isn’t an exact science. Try to choose a time when demand lessens and avoid high sales seasons like Black Friday. That will give you breathing space to fix any problems that might occur during the switch.
“I always urge companies to think about switching in good time to take advantage of their new infrastructure,” explains Daan, “and to fully assess the project’s complexity. That way, you can see whether it’s best to work with a partner such as an agency to speed up the process.”
It might sound like simple advice, but it’s always a good idea to negotiate when you’re switching to a new provider. Often a platform will offer discounts or other incentives if you sign with them, so make sure to speak to a sales representative about this.
“Discounts and other incentives being offered is a common thing in the industry,” explains Daan. “So, if you’re thinking of switching and considering several different ecommerce platforms, negotiate to see whether you can secure an offer that’s better for your business. Especially if there’s more than one platform that meets your needs.”
The joy of finding the right solution
Choosing the right ecommerce platform or switching to a new provider might feel daunting, but it’s a vital step to ensure your business’s success. Investing in the right one is a bit like buying property, as you need to be able to grow into it while also remembering that a time might come when you need to move again. So, choosing a platform that doesn’t lock you in and supports your growth – even beyond their product – is essential.
Using the correct platform is also crucial to your own happiness in business. This is something that Daan knows only too well.
> “I have helped many businesses build their first store or switch on to a new platform and seen the results,” he says, “things work more efficiently, processes are improved, and time is freed up.
“Entrepreneurs start their business because they have a passion. Often, I’ve seen them lose that drive because of the focus on keeping the business running. But with good systems, processes, and structures, they can focus on their passion again.
“Running a business can be challenging, but having the right partner gives you breathing space, improves your love for what you do, and delivers more of those wow moments that make it all worth it in the end. And that’s priceless.”
Grow your way with Mollie
Here at Mollie, we aim to help all businesses to grow with an effortless payments solution. That allows you to accept more than 25 leading payment methods, offer a conversion-optimised checkout, and access integrations and other benefits to maximise sales and scale at speed.
Find out more about payments with Mollie, or sign up to start exploring our product and see if it’s right for you.