Terrible customer service and even worse technical support.

We couldn’t control product information or how items were advertised. 

Not for high-volume sellers. Poor support, constant bugs. 

Those may sound like fictional quotes — mere possibilities of what could go wrong if a brand or retailer were to end up with the wrong e-commerce platform. 

In fact, they’re verbatim excerpts from real reviews left by users who chose e-commerce platforms they quickly came to regret. (You can check them out here, here and here.) In some instances, the solution didn’t deliver enough features. In others, a severe lack of technical support kept companies from growing and reaching revenue goals. 

It’s a challenge that many brands and retailers face: As the business expands to more marketplaces and advertising platforms, managing it all can become a painful process. 

However, while consolidating that growing array of channels into one centralized platform can be tempting, it’s important to remember that not all e-commerce software is the same.

To help you find the right solution for your business, here are three simple rules to follow when selecting a new vendor.

1. Choose a solution built to scale with you

If a software provider promises to “handle your inventory” on “major” marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, beware: This is an indicator that’s all you’ll get. The industry is evolving at a rapid pace, with more emerging channels entering the scene every month. Even if you’re only selling on one or two channels today, that can quickly change as your business scales.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to look for e-commerce software that can help you manage marketing and selling activities across a wide array of channels, from Walmart Canada and Shop.com to Albertsons and FlexShopper. The most robust platforms will also introduce you to emerging opportunities like Checkout on Instagram, and will equip you with advanced strategies to get ahead on major platforms such as Amazon Advertising.

2. Watch for industry partnerships you can leverage

With so many moving parts for every transaction, e-commerce success depends on reliable integrations. Whether it’s updating inventory across multiple marketplaces or shopping around for the best shipping rates on each order, you need to know that all actions are going to be flawless.

For that to happen, industry partnerships are key. The most reliable platforms are those that have built close working relationships with industry leaders: Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, FedEx, UPS … and the list goes on.

3. Make sure the vendor has a proven track record

How long has the e-commerce platform you’re considering been in business? Is the company growing along with the industry? Are updates and enhancements made regularly? It’s important to get answers to these kinds of questions before you sign a new contract.

Take a look at press releases, news articles and company blog posts to see what’s changed in recent years. If the company has been steadily expanding departments or adding new features, that’s a good indicator the platform will continue to stay ahead of the latest industry trends and changes.

Whether you’re thinking of switching to a new provider or are choosing a solution for the first time, the above factors are important ones to consider. The more closely your chosen software matches your business goals, the faster you’ll grow.

Still, we know how hard it can be to decide. For that reason, our e-commerce experts recently updated Rithum’s highly popular buyer’s guide. In it, you’ll find:

  • Checklists of essential features and integrations to watch for
  • Self-assessment tools to help you decide when it’s time to switch solutions
  • Red flags to note when vetting vendors
  • Step-by-step guides for ensuring a smooth transition to your new platform

Download our free guide for more insights you can use to make the right decision: The E-Commerce Software Buyers Guide.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on November 9, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.