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What is Wrong with Platform Selection Consulting?

August 28, 2023 by Paul Byrne


Ecommerce Platform Consulting

Choosing the right platform for your online experience is critical. Typical platform consultants have a feature checklist that compares numerous systems. Often they have done extensive research to develop long lists of features and limitations based on published documentation.

Choosing the right platform is about building a strong foundation for your business, both operationally and experientially for customers. When you consider that, it becomes clear that the decision process must go deeper than comparing long lists of features.

You have to keep in mind that the features you value may differ from year to year. Platforms, too, evolve over time.

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Inconvenient Truths About Platform Selection Projects

Surprisingly, most platform-selection consultants aren’t developers, nor do they offer implementation, data migration, or integration services. When identifying the right partner to help with your platform selection, make sure they are capable of helping you manage the entire process instead of just one small piece.

No platform is without limitations, each choice has its tradeoffs. Currently there is no market leading platform that stands out for all merchants. Though, it is true that some platforms are very inflexible… it’s our job to steer you away from those.

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In the box-checking approach, a check in a box may mean nothing. Recently, a client came to us after selecting a platform based on its advertised ability to create quotes. However, the way our client defined quotes and the way the platform defines quotes were not compatible. Fortunately, the platform was highly extensible and we were able to fix it with customization.

Select an Implementation Partner First

In an implementation, the platform itself is rarely the limiting factor. When platforms are pitching you, they will sell you on their platform and introduce you to implementation partners or developers after you have selected them. The last thing they want you to do is a thorough discovery process because it may delay the sales process and they have bonuses that depend on their quarterly numbers.

Most digital merchants rely on a group of technology and service providers, not just the platform. If you complete a discovery process with a developer or implementation partner before selecting a platform, an experienced partner will help you make sure you select a good set of technologies. Why? Because they are on the hook for making it work! They will want to prototype business critical processes or features BEFORE you sign a multi-year contract with a platform or service provider.

Even with a thorough discovery process and clear ideas, there will be challenges and obstacles to resolve in the months of implementation ahead. There will be unforeseen sticking points and undocumented limitations. However, there will also be positive surprises and unforeseen opportunities. With the right implementation partner, you can work through the difficulties.

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Platform:

  • Is the company behind the platform a good match?
  • Is the overall design and engineering tight?
  • Does their vision of the future coincide with yours?
  • Who will support your implementation?
  • Is the platform reliable? (And not just in terms of uptime!)
  • Do the platform and the company behind it play well with others?
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  • Will the platform evolve to meet your future plans? I.e., is the platform continuing to innovate?
  • Is the platform well-funded and financially successful?
  • Have you checked actual user reviews/references of the platforms you are researching?
  • What are some common complaints and how has the platform company addressed them?
  • Does the platform have a robust and active third party app/extension community?
  • What is the upgrade process?

Examples of Platform Selection Errors:

  • Companies in the firearms business on Shopify had to leave in droves when Shopify made it impossible for them. Would you have foreseen that? Is your business what they call “high risk” politically or socially?
  • Companies that require high degrees of customization choose a platform that limits customization.
  • Companies with a low need for customization choose a platform that is highly customizable but high maintenance costs.

Platform selection can be overwhelming! It requires thoughtful planning and strategic choices and starts with understanding your business, not your feature list. Razoyo is here to help you choose the best fit for you! Schedule your free consultation TODAY!

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