Have you ever found it confusing to choose the right eCommerce third-party integration tools for your business, just like Charlie from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory picking his candy? When investing in third-party eCommerce platforms, merchants have doubts which tool is right for them, they seek for advice and everyone around is having different preferences. There are well over tens and thousands of third-party technology providers offering excellent tools that merchants could plug in to their digital commerce platforms. Hence with Willy Wonka & The Technology Factory we will answer two major questions for merchants:
- How to shortlist potential third-party integration tools for your eCommerce platform?
- Based on what criteria should merchants use when selecting third-party eCommerce platforms?
Here we answer these questions and particularly what it takes to implement & manage third-party integration tools that are right for your eCommerce platform.
Step 1: The landscape
All third-party eCommerce tools are divided into varied categories depending on their specific role like marketing automation, merchandise, intelligence, reporting, etc. Your selection of third-party management tools for eCommerce will depend on your business landscape. There are some must have third-party eCommerce platforms you must implement and manage. These include CRM, ERP, PIM, shipping providers, payment gateways, marketing tools, analytics platforms, reviews and ratings, etc. all of these third-party tools play an integral role in offering an omnichannel integrated eCommerce experience, more of which has been covered in our resource, The benefits and challenges of a fully-integrated eCommerce system.
Step 2: Third-party integration tools shortlisting approach
During this phase, we recommend merchants to do three things that merchants can apply with minor changes:
- Pinpoint gaps between their business needs and current overall eCommerce platform
- Define which of those gaps could become part of our development roadmap. The details can include bridged gaps with custom development, internal process changes, or if there is a need for a third-party integration tool.
- Meet with relevant third-party eCommerce tech partners to deeply understand the product and the services that provide and how they could add value to an eCommerce system.
These three steps are further discussed below.
Step 3: Pinpointing gaps between the eCommerce solution and your needs
As a first step, it is important to ask yourselves why you are looking for integration with third-party tools in the first place. You need to flash out the underlying goal and make sure it becomes imprinted in the minds of everyone taking part in the shortlisting process. The reason for doing this is that once the process starts, you will feel like Charlie with his golden ticket entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
So, you need to focus on two things:
- What are you looking to achieve? What’s the goal?
- What are the KPIs that will define success?
Now you need to assess your current ability to execute, implement and manage third-party integration tools, regardless of the solution you will pick. Review the overall capacity you have for any work, which can be delivered by the relevant team:
- How many people are part of the team?
- How much time can each of them put towards achieving that goal?
It’s essential to dig deep before purchasing third-party eCommerce platforms because the more third-party tools you integrate, the more complexity you add to the equation, causing future dilemmas to become even harder to solve. At this stage, you should have a measurable goal and the team capacity required to achieve this goal.
PS: Not the entire gap between your current eCommerce solution and your business needs might be bridged by the third-party integration tools, which is why you need to explore the tool completely to decide whether you want to implement it or explore further avenues.
Step 4: Choosing what gaps to bridge with third-party integration tools
The gaps between your overall eCommerce platform and business goals can be broken down into several elements, which might require changes in internal processes or current eCommerce system or require additional configurations that are currently absent. What you need to remember is that more you implement third-party integration tools, the more you will have to manage, and the harder it will get with time.
Therefore, you should break down the gaps into smaller cracks, assess what you need to offer an omnichannel experience, what can be purchased/added and what can be custom coded. Consider the long-term cost of ownership on these third-party eCommerce solutions, conduct an in-depth analysis, and then implement them. In case of custom coding a functionality or integration with a third-party tool, these are the differences.