Four tests for e-commerce providers (before they get the gig)

Four tests for e-commerce providers (before they get the gig)

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If you’re set to start an online business, your website will become your brand’s bread and butter. Therefore, having the right e-commerce solution is crucial.

Don’t rush selection of your e-commerce provider; establishing trust and reliability is vital to any long-term relationship. It’s also important to ensure they have the capacity – skills, experience, people, and time — to facilitate your online business journey.

Here are four things to consider when choosing an e-commerce solutions provider:

Check that the company understands web usability

Is your website user friendly? If only the tech savvy can operate it properly, it’s not.

While an excellent web designer and programmer are mandatory for any would-be e-commerce provider, incorporating a usability practitioner into the web development team would bring significant benefits to your e-commerce project.

As the folks at Usability First put it: “E-commerce websites that are not highly usable go out of business in a matter of weeks”.

Check their programming experience carefully if they use Open Source (OS) platforms

Barrier to entry for would-be OS developers is very low; it’s free to use them. That means anybody can claim web development experience and set up shop.

There’s also no guaranteed level of support when using OS. Case in point: the Drupal support forum has more than 1406 pages of unanswered questions posted by users.

OS platforms are certainly not bad. On the contrary, they are excellent tools – especially if utilised by experienced developers. The point is to carefully check whether the e-commerce solutions company you have your eye on has the experience to deliver the quality you want utilising OS platforms.

Check whether the company employs someone who understands e-commerce security

Retail stores use alarms, surveillance cameras, or even guards for security purposes. Your e-commerce website deserves the same vigilance. As the number of online businesses increase, so will cyber attacks.

According to Symantec, many e-commerce websites are left vulnerable because web developers aren’t properly equipped with secure programming techniques. Checking a company’s knowledge of programming security is vital.

Symantec reckons the most common security breaches across online payment systems and shopping carts include:

• SQL injection
• Price manipulation
• Buffer overflows
• Cross-site scripting
• Weak authentication and authorisation
• Remote command execution

Check they will provide the ongoing support you need

In order to build a successful online business you must continuously develop new features and applications. Unless you have significant technical capabilities in-house, you need to partner with a good e-commerce company for continuous support.

Don’t be tempted to choose a company just because it’s cheap. Check what other benefits you’ll gain as part of the package. Many bargain basement outfits don’t provide the service quality and technical support you need. If this is the case with your provider, your business is likely to suffer as a result. Consider also the risk of partnering with a solo entrepreneur. What happens if he suddenly disappears?

Be mindful that if you ask a provider whether they can offer support, most will say yes. You need to know in advance how much support you will require. If it’s hefty, is your provider willing and able? If they are, how much will they charge for it? What is included and what’s not?

Switching providers involves time, stress and disruption. That’s why it’s better to clarify the above points and questions before you hire your next e-commerce provider.

Edwin Lucas is the Business Development Director with Digital Office Builder. an Online Business development company in Melbourne. One of his passions is to educate small business owners to maximize the use of Online Business tools in order to experience various benefits in their business including costs reduction, efficiency improvement, and business process automation.

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  • http://www.CravingTech.com/ Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    Great and comprehensive articles. I think it’s important to do some research before you start anything (even when the money is tempting)

    • Thomashandyho

      Agree, very well written and very accurate too especially for small business who have limited budget therefore it is vital to hoose your provider properly before you make an e commerce solution. Choose the ones who can communicate it well and who can transform entrepreneur idea into reality (which os the hard part).