By Rick Chavie
A strong ecommerce presence is an essential prerequisite for survival in today’s hyper-connected marketplace. Transitioning to a new platform can be expensive and time-consuming, and success hinges on your ability to effectively address several key points. To help guide the process, here are ten key questions to ask during the ecommerce platform request for proposal (RFP) process:
1. Does the platform provide a foundation for omni-channel commerce?
Omni-channel functionality gives buyers seamless, integrated experiences and the ability to interact with your company across all available buying channels. Look for a platform with mobile, tablet POS and desktop PC functionality.
2. What is the total cost of ownership of the platform over five years?
It is crucial to determine whether or not you will be able to recover the cost of the new platform over a reasonable period of time, usually within five years.
3. Was the platform architected from the very first version to be global-ready, or was it designed for a specific market/region and internationalized at a later point in time?
Focus on platforms that were built to handle global commerce opportunities from the start and avoid solutions that tack on functionality to support multiple geographic regions at a later time.
4. What deployment methods are available—on-premise, hosted (managed services) and on-demand (Saas)?
Multiple deployment methods enable a quick platform launch and permit a rapid change of deployment models based on evolving needs.
5. Who typically implements the ecommerce platform?
Multiple implementation options are more cost-effective and ensure the right implementation partner is selected for a business’s unique needs and requirements.
6. How does the ecommerce platform ensure integration with all customer touchpoints such as smartphones and tablets?
Since smartphones and tablets now represent 17 percent of all site visits and 13 percent of all sales, the platform should easily integrate with mobile channels and other touchpoints.
7. What features are available to empower business users to configure and update the ecommerce platform without help from IT?
IT resources are usually stretched thin, so it is important to make sure that users can interact with the system without requiring heavy support.
8. What is the frequency of versions and point releases?
A consistent release schedule addresses bugs and keeps platforms up to date with the latest innovations.
9. Which features and modules of the ecommerce platform are written on a single code base (homogenous stack), and which are not?
For seamless functionality, make sure the platform’s product line was developed in-house, rather than through acquisitions.
10. Does the ecommerce system include a centralized repository for managing both structured (product variants, pricing information), and unstructured product data (editorial content, video, pictures) in multiple languages?
Product content management has made it more important than ever for ecommerce platforms to effortlessly handle all types of content and in multiple languages.
By getting answers to these ten questions during an ecommerce platform RFP, businesses can position themselves for success and rapid return on investment in the ecommerce space. To learn more about key questions businesses must ask during an ecommerce platform RFP, download a white paper on this topic here.