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1 0 1 G u id e S e r ie s

Independent Guide to
Selecting the Right
E-commerce Platform
An E-commerce Manager's Checklist
to Key Considerations
First Edition

Foreword by Dave Chaffey

Phil Robinson, Alan Rowe & Lindsey Annison
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Independent Guide to
Selecting the Right
E-commerce Platform
Phil Robinson,
Alan Rowe & Lindsey Annison

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CONTENTS
About the Authors
Introduction
Which E-commerce Platforms Do The Top 10,000 Global Sites Use
Top 10 Checklist for Choosing An E-commerce Platform
Real-Life Challenges with Industry E-commerce Experts
Platform Options
Platform Considerations: Which Platform Should I Choose?
Platform Considerations: Which Platform Should I Choose?
Platform Considerations: Which Platform Should I Choose?
Why Use Magento Enterprise, or not?
Hosting Speed
Third Party Integrations
Brilliant Plugins and Extensions for Magento
WordPress Integration
Building a Magento Site That Converts
Building an SEO Accredited Magento Site
Proven 35 Step Process for Building E-commerce Sites
Checklist for Choosing a Magento Partner
Don’t Forget These 10 Post-Launch Marketing Considerations
Download Our Other Digital Marketing Books
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Phil Robinson is a digital marketing consultant with over
19 years’ experience. In 2004, he founded ClickThrough
- an agency focused on search engine marketing and
conversion optimisation.
In addition to his role as Founder & CEO of ClickThrough, Phil
also provides best practice training for businesses and writes
books on digital marketing strategies.

Alan Rowe is Director of Web Development at ClickThrough
Marketing. He has 15 years of web development and database
engineering experience for companies across a wide range of
sectors including projects for Peugeot and Kia. Alan spent five
years as Technical Director at a web development company and
was also a trainer at Birmingham University teaching database
driven web solutions.

ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing web development,
search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion
optimisation and content marketing services.
Since 2004, ClickThrough has helped several companies from big
brands to small start-ups grow Google rankings, boost conversions,
increase return on digital marketing investment, and stretch Internet
marketing budgets to get value for money.
We pride ourselves on giving honest advice based on the latest digital
marketing best practices. Our RITE core values of Results, Innovation,
Trust and Excellence drive everything we do.
A proven & trusted agency since 2003
Creators of BidCops.com - Europe’s leading
free AdWords Auditing Tool
We are a Top 100 Agency on Recommended Agency Register
We have published several books on digital
marketing, sold on Amazon
Proven track record from our work with clients including Peugeot,
Triumph, Nectar, Comic Relief, Scottish Power and Halfords

Lindsey Annison has been an Internet marketing consultant
since 1995, and is a renowned author, conference speaker and
blogger. She has been authoring books and white papers for
ClickThrough Marketing for 6 years.

Our people all receive our industry-leading, Digital Academy training
Active members of the IAB, eConsultancy and SEMPO
Thought leaders, giving clients the inside track
on what matters in search, social media and the
digital marketplace... before it happens!
Whether you are thinking of changing your search or digital marketing
agency, or just looking to improve your online conversion rate, our team
of search conversion experts can help.
Find out what we can do to grow your business. Call us on 0800 088
7486 or visit www.clickthrough-marketing.com

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INTRODUCTION
The e-commerce sector continues to experience
phenomenal growth. What this means for your e-commerce
store is a high-pressure, demanding role to become and
remain THE most vital link in revenue generation for your
online business. It is, therefore, critical that you make all the
right decisions regarding design, build and implementation...
for today and into the future.
You may be...
• Selling a handful of products
• Selling thousands of products from a multilocation company across the globe
• Already using one e-commerce store but struggling
because it cannot achieve your goals
• Enjoying expansion and need to look at a scalable
alternative as your business continues to grow

You may be in any or all of the situations listed above but
it goes without saying that developing an e-commerce site
requires the right choices to be made. The platform and the
developer you choose are two of the key decisions that will
need careful consideration. This Guide will help to explain

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the fundamentals of an e-commerce build and look at all the
important facets and functionality that an e-commerce site
should have to succeed.
For reasons you will soon discover and appreciate in this Guide,
we have focused on Magento as a preferred platform of choice.
A great e-commerce site will be fully functional, SEO-compliant
and built for conversions. The goal is to lead (qualified) visitors
into the sales funnel and the money into your business.
This Guide will tell you some of what we have learned at
ClickThrough Marketing in 220,000 hours of website design,
Internet marketing and e-commerce development since 2004.

WHICH E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS DO THE TOP 10,000 GLOBAL SITES USE
Custom Cart 31.94%

Volusion 2.92%

Magento 12.25%

PrestaShop 2.79%

WooCommerce 6.19%

Shopify 2.48%

Zen Cart 3.73%

Yahoo 2.48%

osCommerce 3.47%

Magento Enterprise 1.27%

BigCommerce 3.31%

VirtueMart 1.23%

OpenCart 3.00%

WP e-Commerce 1.19%

Other 20.40%

February 2013 snapshot: Magento has a 26% market
share of e-commerce sites in the Alexa Top 1 Million.
Over 125,000 merchants are using Magento for their
e-commerce storefronts, including some of the largest
brand names in fashion, clothing, sports and electronics.
(Source: Customer Paradigm, http://clikth.ru/1mXoTJG)

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TOP 10 CHECKLIST FOR CHOOSING AN E-COMMERCE PLATFORM
1 NAIL THE STRATEGY
What exactly do you want your e-commerce platform to
achieve? You need to develop an e-commerce strategy that
works for YOU, YOUR business and YOUR buyers. This will
include assessing, understanding, designing and developing
for future growth, personalised shopping experiences, ease of
use, multiple stores and brands, affiliates, marketing, back-office
integration, social media tie-ins, as well as taking into account
likely new developments and consumer habits.
Understand today how your online store and e-commerce
requirements may grow and adapt over the coming years. This
will help ensure that your e-commerce store has the lifespan
required for significant ROI and ongoing customer satisfaction
well into the future.

2 FREE OR PAID? OPEN SOURCE OR PROPRIETARY?
Much Open Source software is now a viable proposition for
any size company or organisation. The size of development
communities working on Open Source projects are often the
envy of reputable companies who quite simply cannot afford
to hire that many staff. These developer communities work
tirelessly and passionately to improve the code and functionality,
to develop extensions and plug-ins, to advance the core
program, and to troubleshoot bugs. What this means is that the
resulting software can be considerably more robust, advanced
and reliable than the equivalent proprietary solution.

3 SCALABLE TO FIT WITH YOUR EXPANSION
It can be difficult to envisage how your company may
expand both on and offline, but choosing a non-scalable
platform can leave you out-of-pocket. You may need to begin
all over again with your e-commerce build if the platform cannot
adapt to your growing requirements. Magento is often called the
“platform for growth” with good reason.
For instance, you may need to integrate multi-channels into your
future requirements.

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TOP 10 CHECKLIST FOR CHOOSING AN E-COMMERCE PLATFORM
Some of the enterprise level proprietary solutions claim to
be multi or omnichannel software and the same can be said
of Magento Enterprise as well as Magento Community (with
extensions). The beauty of Open Source, however, is that you
can hand pick software to suit your needs, and through APIs
create integrations into your site. We would recommend finding
the best solutions for each channel needed and integrate into
Magento if you need a single hub, or keep them separate if not.
We often use a combination of the best SAAS alongside
Magento. For example, through integrating with stock control
systems, it is possible to order online and pick up from the
nearest physical store (click & collect). The objective of
offering your customer a unique brand experience across all
shopping arenas is not something that can be controlled and
accomplished exclusively through a website alone. You need
to evaluate all methods of customer and brand touch points
in order to ensure brand continuity and consistency. As far as
Magento is concerned, a well-constructed, responsive web site
will provide this consistency. In addition, it will ensure that any
3rd party integrations are well executed.

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“THE BEAUTY OF
OPEN SOURCE,
HOWEVER, IS THAT
YOU CAN HAND
PICK SOFTWARE TO
SUIT YOUR NEEDS”
4 CUSTOMISABLE
There are restrictions within some e-commerce platforms that
will prevent you from creating stores that exactly suit your
requirements. This may be acceptable to a small company with
limited products, little in-house expertise, a tiny budget, and in a
niche market where its products stand out. However, being able
to create the store that not only best represents your brand, but
also suits your customers’ needs and yours are vital.
Full customisation, including of the core files and classes, gives
Magento the edge over other e-commerce platforms. It allows
you to create a store that is the envy of your competition. Note
that you will require experienced PHP developers for advanced
customisation - talk to ClickThrough Marketing about the myriad
possibilities for store and back-end customisation.

TOP 10 CHECKLIST FOR CHOOSING AN E-COMMERCE PLATFORM
5 SELF-HOSTED OR HOSTED
A self-hosted solution is one that you own a license to and
can run on your own hardware. A hosted solution is a service
provided to your company for a cost - these fees can differ
widely and may be based on revenue, number of products and
transactions, or even bandwidth usage.
No hosting company can boast 100% uptime, but if your
e-commerce presence and sales are entirely reliant on a hosted
solution, you can see the impact of downtime on your sales; a
potential problem over which you have no control should that
host experience server issues. Redundant and failover hosting
services are essential and there can also be migration issues
should you build your store with certain hosted e-commerce
providers. After spending money on a store, it would be
disappointing to discover that you cannot easily move it to a
new platform and your own servers. Some providers make it
impossible to migrate your data and design elsewhere. Not
only that, you may find you have to wave goodbye to your IP
should you move. All in all, a drain on time and resources and a
situation you definitely want to avoid.

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6 PERFORMANCE AND STRAIN ON HOSTING SERVERS
The databases behind e-commerce stores can be complex,
and busy stores can be conducting hundreds of thousands of
transactions an hour. This can put a strain on the servers hosting
your database and possibly even threaten the responsiveness
of the database. When that happens, the speed at which results
are returned to the shopper will decline—not a good thing!
Mirrored servers as well as separate database servers can
help to mitigate this type of problem, but these come at a cost.
You should seek out specialist hosting if you are planning large
stores. (See also: Hosting Do’s and Don’ts)


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