The E-Commerce Column

5 Tips for Choosing an ASP.Net E-Commerce Solution

Hotcakes loves ASP.Net MVC Razor C#

First, I think it goes without saying that in today’s world, if you are a business that has other software systems and processes, your first stop for an e-commerce solution should be to see what’s available in the market that’s based on ASP.Net. Why, yousay? That is because those other systemsare primarily based on the same Microsoft.Net technologies. Integration and interoperability will beimmensely easier.

Whoops… I just gave you your bonus tip up front!

If you’re reading this and looking for a new or replacement solution, you’re in the right place. Thisis especially true you’re a services provider or web design agency that islooking for another tool in your toolbox to use for clients. Web developers should always be as informedas possible.

#1 – Flexibility

ASP.Net e-commerce solutions must be flexible

This is really aimed at those of you who build websites fora living, but it can apply to any business whose goal is to grow as well. Whether you are trying to build many siteswith many use cases, or your business goals and priorities change because yourstore is THAT successful, you need to choose a solution that is built withflexibility in mind.

Your ASP.Net shopping cart solution needs to be able to beconfigured as much as possible before any low-level or code-centric workaroundsare needed. Simply put, a merchant should be able to point-and-click to change how the e-commerce platformworks.

“Now I need to enable reviews.” Click!

“Uh oh… I need to filter out fraudulent orders.” Tappety, tap, tap, click!

“I need an affiliate program and a loyalty rewards system.” Click, click!

"My customers are starting to come to my site on mobile devices more than desktops!"  You don't even need to click for this one. It's enabled out of the box.

You get the idea. So do we. We’re built to do that – from thestore that sells one product, to those that sell many thousands. We have you covered.

This is less code for you to write, and more pats on theback when you’re done.

#2 – Extensibility

ASP.Net e-commerce solutions must be truly extensible

Want Web Forms, MVC, Razor, C#, more?

In the ASP.Net we throw the word “extensibility” around likeit’s candy. So much so, that I wish wehad another word for it. Everyone usesit, but rare is the e-commerce platform that actually practices it. Your e-commerce solution needs to be able to allow for code to be used to change how it works without changing a single lineof code in the platform itself.

Every single view a customer sees should be able to bedesigned – from CSS to full HTML re-writes. This includes adding your own custom views, such as showing which storelocations you have inventory in, or display a video feed from your chosen video platform, and so on. You should be incomplete control over that branding experience. After all, you don’t want to look like your competitors, and you definitelywant to be engaging with your customer.

The rest of it is a typical conversation… You’ll probably need to talk to and from an ERPor another kind of fulfillment system. You might want to automate an email campaign update.

These kind of things should be simple to do, with theminimal amount of learning curve. Thelast thing you want is to have to debug the shopping cart system simply to figure out how to write code to integrate with it.

We make it simple for you and your team to get started. Each extension point is well documented invideo and text, along with starter Visual Studio solutions to accelerate yourdevelopment timelines. You should onlyhave to worry about the one thing that is important to you – writing the codeto talk from API to API. Nothing else.

We want you to be productive from day one. Gone are the days of reflecting your e-commercesolution or digging through source code.

(And now you’ll have more time to play more Call of Duty, Portal, or World of Warcraft).

#3 – Documentation

ASP.Net e-commerce software must have usable documentation

Did I mention documentation already? It’s definitely worth mentioning again. Why should you have to dig through line afterline and class after class of source code to do something simple? Why should you have to wait hours, days, orweeks, to get an answer from someone?

Who is paying for that wasted time?

Is your client’s timeline going to be flexible andunderstanding enough to account for this?

A supported solution is one where you can rest easy knowingthat there is documentation at the ready. You’ll have only to do a quick search or scan and find the sample codeor steps to solve the problem you’re encountering.

We hate to brag – our customers and partners already do that enough for us already – but yeah, we got that for you too.

Now go enjoy the high fives from your client for finishingyour project ahead of schedule!

#4 – Support

ASP.Net e-commerce software must have support by real people

Oh boy… We hear youloud and clear here. There’s a reasonthat a developer’s best friend has always been their favorite 1-2 forums orQ&A sites. You’ll undoubtedly runinto something you haven’t seen before and it’s not found in any documentationanywhere.

Let’s think through this a bit…

You post a question. If you’re lucky, it will get some views today. More often than not though, you’re probablystuck on this until tomorrow.

The next day you check your inbox. Again, if you’re lucky, the right people haveseen your question, but guess what? They’reasking you one or more follow-up questions because you’re missing some criticaldetails they need to answer the question.

This is a common cycle and it goes on for days and sometimesweeks in the worst cases.

Wait a second… You’re using an open source platform? Great. Now you only need to spend countless hours getting to know the entirecode base so that you don’ need to answer the question. Did you put that time in your quote? I am guessing you’re not getting paid for thistime.

We’d like to think that we’re here to save the day again!

When you come to us, you have 3 ways to get support:

  1. Community Q&A – It’s kind of likeStackOverflow, but focused on your soon-to-be favorite e-commercesolution. Not only will our communityrespond to you, but our staff will too, and you can count on same day answers.
  2. Paid Support – This is not a ground-breakingoffer, but paid support allows you and I both to rest easy knowing that we arewell-protected by an SLA. This means youhave someone to point at when your client is unhappy. If it comes to it, you can pick up the phoneand call us!
  3. Partner Program – If you’re a web developer orweb development firm that builds e-commerce sites regularly, you’ll need a higherlevel of support. We might need to haveone or many pow-wows with your development team to discuss the inner-workingsof the shopping cart. This is only oneof many benefits of being a partner with us.

I guess you might need to raise your prices and make moremoney now that you have us to help you win more business!

#5 – Growing with Your Success

ASP.Net e-commerce solutions must grow with your success

This is a good one… Don’t miss it!

There are very few e-commerce websites that simply need astore feature, and that’s it. In fact, the moment the new store goes live, you begin getting asked about newsletters, blogs, surveys, social integrations, and who knows what else. (If you always get all of this ahead of time, then you are fortunate.)

The last thing you want to tell your customer is somethinglike, “Well, you only told be about the catalog, promotions, and shipping, so Ichose the wrong solution.” Or anotherfavorite, “We can definitely so something like that, but…” And then you go into an explanation of howthey can create pages, but they can only have a specific type of content, oryes you can have a blog, but it doesn’t have those two critical features that they just mentioned.

You and your client both require a solution that grows withthe business. A page-maker, small set ofadd-ons, or a simple blog are not enough – and don’t even get me started onhaving those things on sub-domains using other solutions.

We are built from the ground up to have plug-ins to compliment both the online store, and the rest of the web properties forbusinesses of any size. There are morethan 4,000 apps available from day one – so you get your pick of the litterwhen it comes to blogs, events, surveys, form builders, and more. This is because we are built on top of anactual CMS (read: not just a marketing term) that allows you to build one ormany sites, using any number of features that you can dream up.

Did I mention that all of this is through configuration?

Go ahead and say it… We love you too.

Your toolbox just got smaller. As long as your client’s servers include IISand SQL Server, we are all that you need.

  • Standardization = now you have lower cost for implementationsince you only need to have skill sets for a single solution.
  • Faster Roll-Outs = time to market will be faster since you’llbe able to create repeatable patterns and processes.
  • Vacation = You deserve a treat since you’resaving all of this money from black-hole support and efficiency. Extra points if you bring us!

About the Author

Will StrohlWill Strohl

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