7 Tips on Choosing the Right CMS Platform to Meet Your E-Commerce Goals

March 18, 2024

Let’s face it, choosing the right CMS platform that meets the demands of your business today and where it will be tomorrow is like buying the winning lottery ticket. You do your best and hope like mad you’ll win in the end.

It seems everyone now advertises their content management as being the best or the easiest or the fastest — or having the most available integrations.

With all the options available, how do you decide on the RIGHT content management platform for your e-commerce goals?

To help you evaluate, we’ve compiled a list of expert tips to open your mind to what your decisions mean, and how you can de-risk your final selection.

Because, let’s face it, after you’ve made your decision you’re probably going to stick with that solution, rain, hail or shine, for the next 3-7 years.

1. Define Your Requirements

Deciding on a CMS and eCommerce solution should not be an isolated choice.

It’s vital you consider all related systems and business goals. Gain an understanding of your full requirements for Marketing, Content Management, eCommerce, Internal Sales, online chat, customer service, returns, warehousing, etc so you can make an informed decision.

Some companies draw a map of user flows. Some will create a list of user stories for the expected result from each user interaction with your company. These all must work together.

If you’re re-platforming, speak to the staff who are currently managing your systems and find out what’s working and where they are spending time or what systems are causing pain.

The last thing you want is the 2024 equivalent of a software Frankenstein.

At the end of the day, you must allocate software and spend where it will make you money, or save you money. There’s no point saving $1,000 / month if it means hiring a team member to fill the gap, or there’s no point buying a Mac truck to get groceries from the corner store. Your choice requirements should be documented.

2. Consider User Experience

A smooth and visually appealing user experience not only enhances customer satisfaction but also improves conversion rates and encourages repeat purchases.

Consider the functions you want your customers to achieve online (reading blogs or articles, making purchases and updating their details) and how you want them to interact with your team.

Exceptional user experiences allow your customers to achieve everything with a minimal number of clicks in an intuitive environment. It should be designed to work on the devices your customers will use.

3. Assess Integration Capabilities

Most companies are searching for the holy grail, a single source of truth, for their customer information. Most don’t achieve it, despite their best efforts.

Once you understand your requirements in the first step, you now want to make sure all of these pieces a) work together, b) feed the results of their work into the same data lake and c) are accessible to your non-technical staff.

If your sales or service teams need information - it should be at their fingertips. If sales is selling a product, they should have inventory at their fingertips so they can make the sale on the first call, not the 5th. If a customer purchases online, customer service should have those purchases available for their view in minutes, not days. For B2B sales, your reps need to know omni-channel purchase history in one screen.

Choose a CMS and system that brings everything together. Customer dashboards need to show what the customer needs - live, not ‘everything except…’

This flexibility will empower you to streamline operations and enhance the functionality of your online store.

4. Prioritize Security

One security breach could mean the end of your business. It’s serious.

WordPress is a go-to for the majority of companies wanting a website. While it’s the most popular, it’s also the most hacked.

Here are a few things to look for as a minimum:

Ensuring the security of your e-commerce platform is non-negotiable.

  • IS SSL encryption enforced by default? SSL is your primary protection from man-in-the-middle attacks. It also encrypts sensitive information they enter on your website to keep it away from prying eyes.
  • Regular software updates and security patches must be performed.
  • A clear chain of responsibility and schedule for performing security updates must be in place, either by your team or by your vendor. Most software exploits occur because the software simply wasn’t up-to-date.
  • If software is maintained internally, do you have sufficient skilled personnel
  • Ensure any payment providers you use are PCI Compliant.
  • Does your platform support 2 factor authentication for your staff?
  • What data and metadata do your software vendors collect on your customers, and what security practices are they following?

Additionally, opt for a platform that offers robust authentication mechanisms and advanced fraud detection features to safeguard sensitive customer data and instill trust among your audience.

5. Evaluate Scalability and Performance

If you’re reading this, you’re probably engaged in a migration of systems.

I’m sure you’re enjoying the process. So, how often do you want to do this? Every year? Every 5 years? Never again? And what is the cap-ex cost of re-platforming?

So, before you sign off on any new platform - review the predicted life of the platform, and include in your TCO calculations these costs over time of having to migrate systems because of omitted functionality in the new selection.

For instance, if you’re evaluating a Content Management and eCommerce platform now. Several relatively inexpensive options will suit a small business, while it’s perfectly suited to current operations, it may require a small amount of human intervention to keep things smooth.

But what happens if you grow by 15% year on year for 5 years? Does this human intervention now mean you have to hire a new team member to fill that gap? Or do you need to add more systems to fill the gap? If you need to add systems - what is your path to growing? Will it require re-platforming to properly manage customer service? Or to manage a new loyalty program? Or to incorporate a subscription revenue platform?

Try to understand your requirements in full and make decisions based on both what you need now and what you will need in 5-10 years time, and select a platform that will grow with you.

You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner and incur heavy capex costs in 3 years to re-platform, just because you’re achieving moderate growth. And you don’t want your team feeling unloved because they are increasingly doing manual and unforgiving chores because systems aren’t integrated.

6. Analyze Pricing Structure

Cost is a significant factor in selecting a CMS platform, but it’s essential to look beyond the initial price tag and consider the long-term implications.

Your expenditure, the total amount of money that you spend, is broken down into two parts: Capital expenditure is the one-off costs related to setting up the platform. Operational expenditures are your ongoing costs.

With that in mind, If your sales double, how will that affect your business and the platform fees? Similarly, if your sales hit a trough, are your plans flexible and can you adapt?

With any of these systems, there are a slew of related costs that often go overlooked, particularly the associated wages for the team to run the system. Do you need to hire expensive skilled team members or keep an agency on retainer? Can existing employees and resources be able to manage the new system? If you have a distributed system, where individual systems communicate and coordinate actions, you should consider how you can manage and maintain this synchronization, and the labor costs accompanying these efforts. Using a data integration tool is another potential expense.

Balance your budgetary constraints with the value offered by the platform to make an informed decision.

7. Seek Community Support and Resources

A vibrant and supportive community can be invaluable when navigating the intricacies of a CMS platform. Look for platforms with active user communities, extensive documentation, and reliable customer support channels.

Access to tutorials, forums, and user groups can provide valuable insights, troubleshooting assistance, and best practices to help you maximize the potential of your chosen CMS.

The Ultimate Criteria for the Ideal CRM Solution

Overall, selecting the right CMS platform for your e-commerce goals requires careful consideration of your requirements, user experience, integration capabilities, security measures, scalability, pricing structure, and community support.

While the above checklist provides a roadmap to get there, there is one more fundamental point that brings this all together: where you are today and where you’re headed tomorrow.

Making a decision based only on today will leave you with a solution you will inevitably outgrow, probably sooner than later.

This means you must look to the future, not only where your organization and business is headed, but where your customers and audience are headed as well.

Because in the game of CMS, it’s vital we stay ahead of audience needs, and not just meet them.

By following these expert tips and conducting thorough research, you can confidently choose a CMS platform that aligns with your business objectives and sets the stage for e-commerce success.

StoreConnect is an e-commerce CMS platform built with a Salesforce AppExchange package. No unnecessary plug-ins, No hidden costs. Your store is created entirely within Salesforce!