What Ecommerce Sellers Should Know About Third-Party Services
Using third-party services has become a common practice among ecommerce sellers everywhere, enabling them to serve customers efficiently and effectively without investing hundreds or thousands of dollars building out solutions.
While third-party solutions provide much-needed features, relying on external tools and services and integrating them as a core part of your ecommerce stack is not without risk. Unknown variables can include future feature updates (or lack thereof), maintenance and/or subscription costs and ongoing platform support. And when something goes wrong, it can have a negative impact on your customer experience or business.
So, whether you’re incorporating new solutions into your ecommerce site or reevaluating existing ones, taking the time to choose the right third-party services will save you time, money and peace of mind in the long run.
The Basics of Third-Party Services
Large companies and SMBs alike use third-party services, but they have become especially popular with ecommerce sellers because they enable teams to streamline everyday tasks and focus on running their business. Some of the most popular ones include email marketing tools such as Mailchimp and search analytics tools like SearchSpring.
However, there’s an integration for nearly any service your ecommerce business may need, including payments, logistics, invoice and accounting and CRM. Yotpo has also become a popular third-party integration, as it offers options both rewards and loyalty programs as well as customer reviews.
The Pros and Cons
One of the biggest benefits of a third-party service is the ability to quickly add complex functionality to your ecommerce platform without spending weeks or months building out a system. Off-the-shelf options also typically come with ongoing customer support, varying based on the provider. They are also typically very flexible, so no matter the platform — Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Squarespace, et al — there’s probably a compatible application.
However, there are some cons to consider as well. Third-party services often require upfront costs and ongoing maintenance, typically in the form of module upgrades and recurring subscription fees. Also, if something goes wrong or if it’s the victim of a malicious hack, your customers could be impacted. According to a post-pandemic survey from Gartner, more than half of legal and compliance leaders believe that cybersecurity and data breach is the most-increased third-party risk their organizations face.
While there’s always the possibility of a threat, choosing the right-third party services will help you mitigate risk and ensure your ecommerce operation runs as smoothly as possible.
Choosing the Right Partners for Your Business
Not all third-party services are created equal, so depending on the products and services you sell, as well as your hosting platform, you may or may not need specific tools.
To ensure you choose the right third-party services, evaluate your potential partners based on these three criteria:
A proven record: Testimonials look great on a website, but they’re not always the best reflection of a provider’s capabilities. Rather, reach out to their customers and pick their brains. They’re typically open to discussing their experiences and whether they would or would not recommend the provider.
Proper documentation: No matter the type of integration, ask for documentation. If a provider is hesitant to provide that or client roadmaps, it’s a huge red flag.
Relevant experience: Look for providers who have worked with your ecommerce platform, as this will be invaluable during integration.
A Final Word
Third-party services have become a necessity for ecommerce sellers. Choosing the right ones can help your business operate more efficiently and cost effectively, but there are often consequences when precautions aren’t taken. No matter what solution you need, exercise due diligence. It will save you money, time and a few headaches down the line.