The best way to select a software vendor

I am a believer in using software packages as opposed to custom applications. Functions like accounting, customer management, and ecommerce are standard. Most packages for those jobs will pay for 90 percent of what is needed. If the package doesn’t cover a business practice, I typically advise changing the clinic, not the package.

As a business grows, so does its reliance on applications. The ideal software drives profits and efficiency. It can lower labour costs.

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Nonetheless, software can’t become an obstacle. It can’t prevent a business from evolving or growing. When it will restrict growth, change your own software.

Recently I read about a company that sold things to students. It had identified a new product range with strong appeal to some section of international students, but not local ones. The provider’s marketing program and its advisers recommended separate sites for every student demographic — with webpages, pictures, and speech to match that section. Forecasts indicated that a generic site would be ineffective. However, the owner denied because the program couldn’t accommodate separate sites. The software determined the company program.

That is crazy.


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If you do not have the ideal tool for your job, get another instrument.

If you do not have the ideal tool for your job, get another instrument.

Certainly changing software can be hard. However, it’s necessary when requirements evolve. Any business that doesn’t adapt to the industry is doomed to fail.

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Change, however, requires preparation. Don’t rush a change, particularly for critical functions. Most retail ecommerce companies have a silent period in February and March. That is probably the best time to replace applications. Slow sales provide a chance to run both versions in parallel to demonstrate the new one works and that it is ideal for your business’s future.

Your company must stay profitable. Your software is only a tool. It should never determine what you do and how you do it to the detriment of your own success.

The Solution

Now that you have decided to alter applications, how can you pick the replacement?

The traditional technique is to search on Google for appropriate alternatives, shortlist likely candidates, read reviews, and determine the cost. All very sensible.

There’s another way, however.

Likely your existing package has other users with the identical problem as yours. Many packages have a support network or forum. Search this forum or ask a question. You may get a similar company that had the identical problem and fixed it. In that case, call the employees of the enterprise. There is nothing to lose. At worse, they fall to help.

At best, they disclose their new applications, how it differs, the migration process, and if it was worth doing. All insights could be invaluable, saving much time and money.

Often ecommerce merchants believe that they’re alone, with distinctive and unsolvable issues. The reality is the opposite. There are countless ecommerce companies globally. Many are like yours. Most aren’t competitors. They’re a huge untapped resource.

Often ecommerce merchants believe that they’re alone… The truth is the opposite.

Similar companies have much in common with yours. By way of instance, they probably have lost deliveries, customer complaints, changing tax laws, etc. A community of non-competing ecommerce companies may be the ideal method of finding suitable software and what works and doesn’t operate in real life.

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Such forums exist. I am a moderator of a general business forum from the U.K. It is an invaluable resource in which like-minded small business owners counsel each other and warn of impending changes to U.K. legislation. Practical Ecommerce’s new CommerceCo community is an alternative. No matter search for one that is acceptable for you. Be certain it’s relatively popular so that posts get responses within a reasonable time.

At best, you’ll have found new friends and advisors, people who understand what you’re going through and can share their experiences for no cost.

It’s unlikely that you’re the first to incur a specific ecommerce issue. Others have had it too and are ready to assist.

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