How to choose a website/e-commerce provider.
There's been a great discussion on Open Wine Consortium about choosing an e-commerce platform. The discussion has been going on for almost a year and every so often the conversation sparks up again. (Right now it's six pages long)
These discussions often degrade into a platform feature comparison and what you can do on each platform. At Vin | 65 we offer one of the best all around feature sets for a winery (obviously I have a personal bias here). However I feel that comparing features is really the wrong way to go.
I firmly believe it has more to do with your developers and marketers than with the features itself. With a professional experienced developer you gain a lot of knowledge that you wouldn't necessary have yourself. (Just like having an experienced wine maker producing your wine)
So how should you choose an e-commerce platform? And what is the best deal?
- Compare the external sales you can achieve with each platform. Website design has a huge impact on sales. (Often the initial visit is all about the experience and story you tell) Marketing opportunities such as capturing visitor information, have an impact on sales. The website developer and marketers should be able to assist you here.
- Compare the internal costs you will save with each platform. Which platforms are going to let you do your job more efficently. (This often comes down to which provider has the best features, and the easiest to use features)
- Compare the ongoing platform costs in terms of licensing fees, in terms of support, and how much time the platform will require from you.
If you want to get a whole lot of differing opinions, be sure to read the OWC thread.
If you really value the online sales channel, you want as much control as possible about how things are presented to the user. You also want to make sure that you can integrate/automate with the *rest* of your winery systems (e.g. accounting).