When it comes to choosing eCommerce platforms, everyone has their own preferences and opinions between hundreds of different choices.

From a developer’s perspective, there should be two key objectives that take priority:

  • how easy it will be to develop the project requirements and grow with the platform
  • how easy it will be hand off the project to the client.

Meeting and Exceeding Project Requirements

The first thing to look for when evaluating new ecommerce platforms is for the one that provides the most out-of-the-box features that are relevant to your client’s requirements.

Generally, the more features that come with the product out-of-the-box, the less that you will need to custom develop,shorter your development time, and better support that you will get.

However, there is a strong second requirement. For the features that don’t come out-of-the-box, choose the platform that allows for extendability through a marketplace and through deep customization.

Deep customization means that you are able to access and customize aspects of your store without having to hack the core system. Changing code in the core system is not recommended as it makes future updates and troubleshooting a nightmare.

Development Checklist

  • What aspects of the store’s front-end and back-end can be customized?
  • Can the checkout system, shopping cart, and product pages be customized?
  • Is the platform well-supported and built on a language, database, and framework that is familiar to your development team?
  • Is there an active community of developers who use the platform?
  • Is there sufficient capable technical support?
  • Is there a powerful API and strong documentation for integrating with the platform?

Client-user Happiness is Just as Important

Most clients never see the database, logic, and back-end components of the requirements that they ask for. Those requirements are for the store itself. But clients also need to use the platform and their happiness is just as important.

Even if an ecommerce system satisfies all of its project requirements, if it doesn’t allow the client-user to perform the activities that they need to, then the platform is a failure.

Client-users need to perform critical activities like order management, product management, and promotions. When evaluating ecommerce platforms, ensure that it has an intuitive interface for them to use without needing IT support.

Client-User Checklist

  • Does it contain the critical tools/features needed for business users?
  • Can product and category managers control their parts of the catalog?
  • Is there a user interface for creating promotions and discount rules without IT support?
  • Is there a way to manually edit orders and shipments?
  • Is there a way to write email notifications?
  • Are business metrics and reporting clearly displayed?
  • Are there user controls and restrictions to prevent users from breaking the site?
  • How easy is it to monitor business metrics like conversion rates and average order sizes?