How to Evaluate Ecommerce SoftwareWhen purchasing ecommerce software, as with other software purchases, you must balance a number of factors: technology, total cost of ownership, customer references, match-to-requirements, and the vendor.  It is all too often that only one of these important characteristics is used to make a decision when, in fact, none of them should be overlooked.

Here’s a simple way to compare ecommerce software solutions side-by-side and show a good comparative ranking between the various options you are evaluating.

When I’m researching an important purchase, I make a simple grid of the key factors that will impact my purchase and weight those factors in order of importance. The chart below shows the six factors that will influence my buying decision and their associated weights. Please note that the relative weights should total 100% as shown below. (I personally would never rank the vendor relationship at less than 33%.)

Category Rating Weight Score
Vendor 33
Price / TCO 15
Technology 15
Features 20
Performance 14
User Community 3
Total Score 100

Next I rank each solution on the factors I’ve identified, assigning them a rating of 1 to 10, where 1 is extremely low and 10 being near perfect.

Category Rating Weight Score
Vendor  8 33
Price / TCO  5 15
Technology  9 15
Features  7 20
Performance  4 14
User Community  1 3
Total Score 100

Finally, I multiply the weighted grid across the line (rating x weight = score) and add up all the scores for a total score.

Category Rating Weight Score
Vendor 8 33 264
Price / TCO 5 15 75
Technology 9 15 135
Features 7 20 140
Performance 4 14 56
User Community 1 3 3
Total Score 100 673

The solution evaluated in the table above would have a total score of 673 out of 1000. Once you have completed this analysis for each solution, you can effectively compare them side by side by rating as well as by total score.

It is vitally important not to minimize your vendor, whether you are purchasing directly from the manufacturer or you are securing services from a consultant. As I noted above, I would never weight the vendor relationship less than 33% in any buying decision. That is because a large majority of IT projects fail because of the human elements involved, rather than the technical ones.

As you interview potential ecommerce partners, make sure you have the right people working on the project.  Having that right chemistry–knowing that your ecommerce provider will partner with you, not just be a vendor–and that they truly care about the success of the project will, in the end, be far more important for your long term success than will some specific feature in the software.

Make sure that your ecommerce partner understands your business, can help you define strategy, has deep experience in the field and knows how to translate a web site into revenue – after all, that’s really what ecommerce is all about!

Ready to learn more about integrated B2B and B2C ecommerce? Watch our on-demand webinar, Ecommerce Website Best Practices.

Tom Frishberg, CIOTom Frishberg is Chief Information Officer at Insite Software. He can be reached at

Photo credit: aeu04117 – Murray Barnes