Software packages or ecommerce platforms include a broad range of e-commerce features to choose from. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars (e.g. basic template software) to several thousand dollars and more (e.g. customized solutions).
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your business needs. Check other ecommerce platforms to build your understanding of what you like and do not like. You may not need all the bells and whistles included in some of the more deluxe e-commerce packages.
Your e-commerce solution should fit with your current needs, but there should also be room for your online business to grow.
Your Ecommerce Platform should have the following:
Consider whether you are ready to design your own store (using a template) or whether you will need professional assistance to design the store. Many of the design templates are relatively easy to use, but may not be a good option for you if your time is limited. Licensed software packages may include online technical support and step-by-step guidance to help you with design.
Shopping carts vary considerably. Features may include progress indicators to help customers understand where they are in the transaction process, automatic calculation of tax and shipping, customizable design and layout.
Check to see how many products the Online catalog is able to manage. Consider how easy it is to add products, and to upload an existing product database.
Payment processing options
Third party payment processing, merchant account, cheques, money orders.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL), password protection, access privileges for site administration, data center security, risk tools that can help flag fraudulent orders, etc.
Features can include discounts or coupons, gift certificates, discount pricing, volume pricing, autoresponders (automatically sends out offers by e-mail). Some packages offer cross-selling functions (e.g. similar or complementary products are recommended when the user selects a product).
The service provider or software package may provide a number of ordering features such as viewing new orders by email, online, or fax, automatic notification to customers alerting them to any changes in the status of orders, etc.
Integration with Back-Office Business Processes
If e-business is a critical part of your business you may want more advanced integration features that link your e-business to your regular business operations (inventory, ordering, shipping, accounting).
Website analytics and reporting features
Can help you keep track of your sales, pages viewed by customers, referring sites and keywords customers use to find your product.
Level of Support
Consider what level of support you will require. Will you need support 24-7?