It’s important to evaluate shopping cart software on a regular basis to ensure that it is meeting your needs and that you are making effective use of all the features at your disposal.
As an ecommerce professional, your time is at a premium. You don’t have a lot of time to waste constantly evaluating your site, but you also can’t afford the wasted profit potential of sticking with a flawed shopping cart solution when there might be a better option out there for you to take advantage of. Our list of tips will give you some guidance to plan and execute regular evaluations of your shopping cart software or eccomerce solution:
The Best Times to Review Your Shopping Cart Software
1. Quarterly. This is probably the most convenient option to evaluate shopping cart software. It provides you a sizable frame in which to gauge how well your shopping cart has performed over time. Ecommerce, like any other field, has lean times and busy times. Viewing your shopping cart’s performance over a three-month period lets you put those fluctuations in perspective. Your business is also constantly changing. Your needs at the end of the quarter are not the same as they were three months before.
2. After major updates. There are no hard and fast rules about how frequently software companies release updates for their ecommerce solutions. Schedules range from as frequently as once per month (which is a little bit too frequently to be doing evaluations) or as rarely as twice per year. Most companies will fall somewhere in the middle, usually around four. If an update falls near the end of the quarter, then just wait and roll the evaluation in with your quarterly review. If not, take the time to do an evaluation and integrate any updates into your regular operations.
3. Annually. If you are taking the time every quarter to evaluate shopping cart software and ensure it is working for you and that you are using it well, then the annual evaluation shouldn’t have any major revelations for you. However, you can use this as an opportunity to track your shopping cart’s performance, compare all four quarters, and reckon with any major updates.
4. After major performance spikes/drops. There’s a good chance that you live and die by your traffic and revenue numbers, so you are probably very in tune with fluctuations in these areas. If you experience a major drop or sudden increase in traffic and/or revenue, then you might want to do a quick evaluation of your software. Did something change after the last update? Did you forget to change a vital setting? Does your SEO need work? You’ll find the answers to all of these questions during a reactive review.
What to Focus on When You Evaluate Shopping Cart Software
1. Your changing needs. When you initially picked out your shopping cart software, you had a specific set of goals, needs, and wants in mind. Depending on how your business has grown and changed since the outset, your goals, needs, and wants are almost definitely not in the same place that they once were. Have clear, defined expectations from your software before you begin your evaluation. Track these changes in the same document so that you can see how you have grown and progressed.
2. Shopping cart utilities. What are the most useful and effective elements of the software that you’ve chosen? How have you been making use of them? Are you using them effectively? Do you have an integrated plan for using them to their fullest potential? If your ecommerce solution has social commerce support, are you using it effectively? How well is your shopping cart meshing with your SEO efforts? Does your cart manage inventory well? Are there other ecommerce solutions that might lend themselves better to what you are trying to accomplish? These are very important questions to answer. Consider creating a template with these questions and going through them one by one when you evaluate shopping cart software.
3. Customer service. Depending on the size of your staff, sometimes it can be very easy to feel alone in the ecommerce world. Does your shopping cart’s customer service make you feel cared for and supported? Do they handle your issues in a timely manner that keeps you efficient? Have you suffered any downtime or other lost revenue or potential revenue due to customer service or maintenance issues? Keep a record of such issues, especially for your annual review.
4. Your competitors. Make sure to take the time to visit your competitors’ sites on a regular basis. What are they doing that you could be doing? Commerce is competitive; you need to keep track of your competitors’ moves. Some of their tactics may be linked to their shopping cart software. If you are at a major disadvantage because your cart can’t do something that their cart can, then you may have to consider switching ecommerce solutions.