How do I find the right shop software
The choice of shop software is one of the first and most important decisions when establishing an online shop. The presentation, administration and sales processing of the products offered online determines significantly whether your webshop will become a success for the customers.
The right shop software for your company should not only meet the current requirements of your business model, but at the same time be able to grow with your business. Because a later change of the shop software is possible only with high financial and temporal effort. It is therefore important to strategically approach the search for the perfect shop system.
To help you find the right software for your online store, today we’ll explain the two basic types of shop software and some decision criteria that should not be left out of your checklist.
For a basic understanding, two main categories of Shop Software can be distinguished: Prefabricated modular solutions and customizable open source software.
The first option is to buy or rent a modular solution from an external provider. This is also referred to as a so-called SaaS (software as a service), because all services, such as hosting, support and maintenance are taken over.
The template of the shop is set up and designed according to the modular principle via a user interface. It can be started immediately with the product placement and layout and functions are configurable to a certain extent. So SaaS systems offer a complete solution that can be started directly. They are particularly interesting as a ready-made solution for founders who are just getting into the online business. For larger retailers and shops with special requirements, the limited flexibility and customization, however, quickly becomes a problem.
An open-source software is freely available as code on the Internet and can be further developed independently.The result is a community of developers who are always making new features of the shop system available.
The prerequisite for the use of open-source software is therefore the appropriate technical know-how: installation, maintenance and adjustments are taken on board. The company also takes care of the hosting itself. This means that there must be sufficient own server capacity or a web server should be rented.
Advantage of open-source shop system is the variety of expansion possibilities of design and functions. This allows much more customization compared to the modular system and at the same time offers independence from external partners. Functions can be added at will and it can be immediately responded to program errors. This avoids the risk that your web shop may be outdated and no longer competitive due to lack of updates from the manufacturer.
Very important: open source does not mean free. When talking about free availability, it is meant to provide the actual source code of the software. This access can be both, free and paid. For example, basic systems with paid extensions or enterprise solutions with additional support services are offered.
The individual modular systems and open source solutions are again significantly different in terms of their respective functions, degree of complexity and cost point. Often the same software also offers different performance editions. Therefore, to make the right choices, a clear idea of the company’s needs and goals is crucial.As a guide, we have summarized the most important criteria for the evaluation of Shop Software:
Cost of the software
For many retailers, the price of the shop software is the first limiting criterion. How expensive a software solution ultimately becomes depends on the nature of the system.
Modular system toolkit are either purchased once or run over monthly installments. Such complete solutions tend to be cheaper – especially as they allow full cost control through an upgrade system. It can be started with a cheap version and later switched to a more complex system. In addition, the prices can be easily compared.
In the case of open source systems, cost planning should pay attention not only to acquisition expenditures but also expenses for installation, maintenance and updates. For the majority of the companies here is due to lack of programming skills, the employment of an agency needed. The costs have to be calculated exactly, because the borders are open at the top.
When planning the budget for purchasing a shop software, the cost of the system should always be seen in relation to other running costs and expected revenues of the shop. If the investment in a shop software often seems to be very high when the company is founded, the costs for the shop system are usually only a minor item during ongoing business operations. So do not rush your budget to the sole exclusion feature.
Product diversity and sales volume
Some providers of shop software limit the number of adjustable items, page views or total sales through the shop.The filter and search functions of the individual systems sometimes also differ significantly. Therefore, your product range and the expected order volume are an important decision factor. Estimate here also long-term growth potential, so as not to be forced due to future sales increases or assortment extensions to a software change.
In order to exploit your full customer potential, the mobile use of your webshop should also run smoothly. The share of mobile commerce in online commerce is increasing year by year: in 2016, 69% of German consumers were already using mobile devices for online shopping. Make sure you pay attention to the shop software, whether a responsive design supports or optimized for mobile use version of the shop layout is offered.
Half of all consumers abandon their online purchases if the preferred payment option is not available. Check whether all desired payment options are offered, how easy they are to integrate and whether there are any extra costs for adding them. PayPal, purchase on account, direct debit and credit card are particularly popular for payment on the Internet with German customers. In addition, the question of support for mobile payment methods is also advisable: payment via smartphone or tablet is becoming increasingly important.
Would you like to open your online shop for international markets in the future? Then you should check the extent to which the shop system supports internationalisation. Pay attention to the different language functions, currency forms offered and the possibility to integrate different tax rates.
A particularly important factor is the offered interfaces to company-internal software as well as web applications.How easy is the shop system to connect to your already used programs from merchandise management, shipping or accounting? Here, too, it makes sense not only to consider the current status, but also to consider which software enhancements can be expected with the growth of your company. Equally interesting is the ability to integrate further sales channels on the Internet. Look for a smooth integration of online marketplaces, such as Ebay or Amazon, as well as the shopping functions of social networks, apps or price comparison portals.
Many shop systems come from international suppliers, often from the USA, and are therefore not adapted from the outset to the German market. Due to cumbersome adjustment processes, the establishment of legal certainty can significantly increase the implementation effort. Find out, therefore, which legal adjustments to the respective shop system are necessary – especially with regard to the new GDPR. Particular attention should be on terms and conditions, imprint, right of revocation, but also price information and button designations.
How diverse is your target group? If you address different customer groups with your products, it pays off to pay attention to the segmentation tools of the shop systems. Interesting here are filter functions by origin, shopping basket value, age and gender, which make it possible to play automatic product recommendations. Especially important is the distinction between B2C and B2B customers. If your business model is aimed at both business and private customers, you should pay attention to differentiated presentation options in the shop.
Approach the provider search strategically
Use the mentioned criteria to make a systematic comparison with your personal checklist. The market for shop software is full of providers: the spectrum ranges from manufacturers with downloads in the millions to small start-ups..
Jimdo or Shopify , for example, are particularly popular with modular tools. In the open source sector, the WordPress extension WooCommerce offers a simple and affordable entry point for small companies, while for complex projects, providers such as Magento , Shopware or OXID eShop offer their full functionality and support.
The advantage of such established shop systems is the large user community. Here the danger of a sudden discontinuation of the Shop software is low. Because no matter whether by the developer community or the manufacturer: Continuous updates are essential, so that your webshop remains competitive in the fast-moving online trade in the long term. Therefore, newcomers and smaller software providers should not be left out of consideration: here you will often find particularly favorable offers, or just the niche solution for your own company requirements.
The complete selection of shop software can be exhausted just at the beginning. As an introduction, shop software comparisons from the internet can provide an overview. Check the information here, but always with the current websites of the provider against. Some shop systems can also be tested via test accounts or demo versions. Be sure to use this opportunity to get a better sense of how the software fits your needs.
The choice of the shop software is a binding decision with a long-term effect on the performance of your web shop.Thanks to the large number of providers and the most diverse system variations, there is a suitable solution for almost every requirement profile on the market. Take the time to create a careful catalogue of criteria in order to take a close look at the individual options. This is how you find the shop software that will get your online shop off to an optimal start..