HOW TO FIND NEW ECOMMERCE SOFTWARE
That Meets Your Needs
One of the hardest parts about choosing software is finding a solution that works for your business as well as your tech stack. A system that can ‘plug and play’ no matter your set up, makes everything simple. Whether your tech stack is homegrown, headless or off-the-shelf Comestri can work around you, supporting you to focus on your business growth and customer experience. A system that meets your customers needs – not the needs/assumptions of the platform/provider.
The good news – there’s an abundance of product data solutions available to you, seemingly countless Product Information Management (PIM) and Distributed Order Management Systems (DOMS). The not-so-good news – it makes choosing the right software to handle product data for your business daunting.
There’s a niche, custom-designed solution for everything. But behind the jazz hands and exciting features, they bring multiple new failure points to triage, and potential downtime.
The search for product data software that works for your business and tech stack won’t be easy. But if you want to focus on business growth and finding the best experience for your customers (we know, who doesn’t?), you’re going to have to get stuck in.
There’s layer upon layer to work through. Especially if you’re pursuing software for data enrichment, product information management, channel and marketplace management, and order orchestration (spoiler – you don’t need a separate system for each).
So in this post, we peel back those layers, covering:
- How to define what you need from a new PIM & DOMS system
- Beginning your search for a new PIM & DOMS system
- What you’ll find in the best PIM & DOMS systems
- The benefits of plug-and-play systems
How to define what you need from your new commerce software
If you’re searching for a new PIM, Distributed OMS or Channel Manager, we’ll assume you’re already intimately familiar with what a DOMS and what a PIM is, and how PIM software benefits eCommerce. With that knowledge, you can begin thinking about precisely what to look for in these systems.
As you begin your search, bear in mind your key objectives.
- What must your solution do?
- What must it solve?
- What must it be worth?
Focusing on answering these three points will give you valuable direction in your search for answers – a search that starts with your teams.
Consult your stakeholders
Content developers, analytics teams, designers, and any other end users are critical in helping you understand what your business needs from new software. By assembling these people (alongside decision-makers with cross-functional expertise) and asking them what they would benefit from, you’ll swiftly outline what your solution must do.
Experts agree that communication needs to happen in three directions for technical projects: upward to those you directly report to or your C-level team, laterally across your departments and teams, and downward, to your direct team who will be responsible for using or implementing the new system.
Bonus Tip: Adding in people that don’t “speak IT” to boost the cross-functional expertise of your consulting group will mean you’re less likely to overlook an important factor.
Ask the tough questions
Where do you really fall short? Framing your PIM selection around areas you know you struggle in will set you up for the future. A good place to start is to highlight key issues your customers experience and work back from there.
For example, perhaps you receive a lot of complaints and returns, which are killing your brand, reputation, and bottom line. Working backwards, you may discover that you’re drowning in spreadsheets. And all of that cluttered, messy data is the real cause – so you may wish to prioritise a PIM that consolidates all of your product data across channels.
Define a budget
Upfront costs are one thing. Equally as important, however, are future costs associated with onboarding; training, licences, implementation, ongoing support, and managed services. Not only for your new system, but for your existing tech stack, too. How well does the new PIM integrate? Will you find yourself on the long, expensive path of having to constantly find fiddly and expensive fixes to make systems talk to one another?
It all adds up. Taking the time to estimate the budget thoroughly has benefits. You’ll better secure project funding, make better decisions, and promote enhanced future thinking and planning.
Like to learn more about Order Management Systems? Check out our eBook: OMS / DOM: An Introduction.
Beginning your search for new commerce software
Ecommerce technology is an over-saturated industry. To stay focused and sort through the pomp and ridiculous volume of information when searching, our advice is to create a list of requirements.
Setting the parameters for your software search
Building on the needs you have defined, try creating a list of factors that your potential new software must meet. For example, list your:
- Functional requirements
- Usability requirements
- Budgetary requirements
- Reporting requirements
- Vendor requirements
- Scalability requirements
- Technology preferences
You may wish to further split your answers to these into ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. Regardless, once you have decided on the specifics, you have yourself an in-depth checklist. Now as you begin your research, you can start to qualify solutions in or out based on how closely they match.
Best practices for conducting your software research
It’s important to do your research thoroughly and to take your time doing it. Too often, software vendors focus on the needs and assumptions of their business, instead of the needs of their customers. Remember why you’re looking for new software, and ensure that your next choice is one that can confidently support your business for any future needs or plans.
We’ll go ahead and say, even if it is a bit of a buzzword: establish a technical roadmap. Modern technology ecosystems are complicated, and finding third-party providers that work in harmony can be challenging. A roadmap will help you stay true to course.
Bonus tip: begin this process well before your existing contract ends, to avoid making a time-pressured judgement. Never do your food shop hungry, as they say.
Why plug and play is the way to go
Business moves fast, and there’s rarely an occasion where you can take your time sifting through the masses of options available to you. Herein lies the critical advantage of plug-and-play platforms. They can be adopted faster than most other systems, and the most intuitive can connect with your existing tech stack, enhancing your entire ecommerce technology ecosystem.
Plug-and-play removes obstacles to adoption
The learning curve of plug-and-play systems is much shallower. Complicated walkthroughs are an immense challenge to adoption, along with your ability to use the software unaided after implementation. The easier this process is at the onset, the more likely your staff are to adopt it and go all-in.
Support business flexibility in an ever-changing market
Time to market is crucial in ecommerce, and research shows that new market entrants enjoy clear advantages in terms of market share, revenue, and sales growth. With plug-and-play platforms, you could get to market faster and reap these rewards.
Future-proof your technology
Retailers are eager to experiment with the future tech that customers want; new touchpoints, new tools, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), social commerce, artificial intelligence (AI)…the list goes on. But rigid all-in-one ecommerce suites don’t have the robust product data capabilities necessary to power future technologies.
It’s critical that you choose future-proof technology to create a seamless, consistent experience for your customers, wherever and whenever they interact with your brand. The best plug-and-play ecommerce software will have robust product data capabilities, which are vital to ensuring you can enable future technologies like AI and voice search.
You may wish to strive for Unified Commerce, connecting your back end systems to customer-facing channels in a single platform. This centralized view offers better data insights and a simplified commerce ecosystem to guarantee a future-proof technology stack.
The nature of plug-and-play affords you the ability to add more systems, but it’s important that they can all talk to one another. In an ecommerce environment especially, the ability to consolidate data from multiple systems into a single source of product truth is a tremendous advantage.
Ensure your system of choice has the ability to automatically transform data to meet the requirements of where it needs to go to (your marketplaces and sales channels), but also where it’s coming from (like your ERP system). The best systems allow you to do this in one place – no more fiddly spreadsheets involved, ever!
Choose to do commerce your way
The all-in-one commerce suite’s glory days are over – the paradigm has shifted. Retailers now have more control over their ecommerce software, but it’s a decision that carries weight.
One inescapable fact remains; data drives everything commerce. As you start to pick out capabilities and technologies that you need now, prioritise those that allow you to, harness, connect, and transform your data across every system – these are the ones that will let you enable every new technology you pick out in future.
Comestri is the digital commerce platform enabling the unified commerce ecosystem. Whatever your current set up is headless, homegrown, or off-the-shelf, we slot right in and prioritise supporting you to focus on your business growth and customer experience.
Have any questions about choosing ecommerce software and what to expect from it? Drop us a line and we’ll get in touch.