When I was first commissioned to create an online shop, I first had to spend days researching which systems were on offer in the market, how expensive they were and what else to look out for. My research led to three basic findings:

1. The market for online shops and systems is huge and hardly manageable

2. In order to choose the right shop, you have to find out in advance exactly and in detail which criteria are important for the customer, because once you have made the decision for a system and imported the products with a lot of work and diligence, including all text descriptions, prices, photos, product variants, language versions, dimensions/weights, discount rules, etc., then a later change to another system is not quite so easy without starting from scratch again.

3. An online shop is always embedded in a larger (merchandise management) system and therefore compatibility and connection (interfaces) are the be-all and end-all in making the right choice.

Ich schreibe hier bewusst über den Entscheidungsprozess für kleinere und mittlere Unternehmen, da größere Unternehmen andere Anschaffungskosten zur Verfügung haben und teilweise ganze IT-Teams rekrutieren, die jeden Tag Wartung und Pflege des Shops übernehmen.

The following criteria should be well checked when choosing the right shop software:

  • Scalability
    If it is foreseeable that the product range could grow in the future, the system must be able to grow with it. Shop providers often offer the software in different sized packages and prices that are oriented towards the number of products.
  • Sales promotions
    Whether you use promotions, discounts, newsletters, social media or promotions to promote sales, the shop system should be able to offer them. Here it is worthwhile to check especially the scale or number of discounts and discount rules, as there are often great differences here.
  • Internationality
    Anyone who wants to sell across national borders should definitely check language, tax and shipping functions and standards in the shop software.
  • Interfaces
    To avoid duplicate work in maintaining products and prices, it is important to connect to an existing merchandise management system. Ideally, all products are entered in the ERP system and can be synchronised with the online shop via a direct data exchange. Beware of plug-ins that have to be updated for a fee every time the shop software is updated!
  • Usability
    Many providers allow you to test a software before making a decision. This is an important step to get an impression of intuitive operation, functions and speed of implementation.
  • Costs
    The budget for a shop is made up of various costs:
    - Software costs
    - Hosting costs with a provider
    - Maintenance costs (graphics, writing texts, generating or buying images, etc.)
    - Possibly licence costs

This article can only give a very rough overview of the criteria. In reality, there is no best online shop in the world, because every system is different and it depends solely on the requirements that the system can fulfil for the respective company and its products. You will not be able to avoid investing a lot of time in research.    

Good luck with the selection process!