For Business

Too many tools, too little time: How to rethink ecommerce integrations

Choosing the right third-party integration for your ecommerce site can be challenging. We’ve got some tips to make it easier.


Any merchant interested in improving their customer experience and business operations with a third-party ecommerce service provider (ESP) integration faces a seeming impossibility of riches. Not only is it possible to transform nearly every aspect of your business with these plug-ins, but there’s also a wide variety of tools already available within each category. Whether you’re talking about payment, inventory, CRM, analytics, or SEO, there’s plenty of vendors providing a solution.

So where is an ecommerce business owner supposed to start? And how do you know if you’re ever finished? We’ve identified five best practices that can make the process of finding the right third-party plugin for your ecommerce business a bit easier.

1. Research forums and reviews to find insights

Yes, you probably knew we were going to say that, but adding a third-party integration to your ecommerce site shouldn’t be a matter of simply taking various tools out for a spin. Even a well-reviewed plugin might not be right for a business of your size or type. It’s good to consider how any new technology integration you add to your business can affect the functionality of other services existing on your site. Conflicts between new and existing services can create a tech fail that might cost you a sale or distract you from building relationships with your customers.

User reviews, online forums, message boards, and Reddit discussions are great outlets to assess the reliability and suitability of a third-party extension for your business needs. See how active the company is in reacting to reviews and bug reports, and look for signals that there’s clear channels for reporting problems or requesting tech support.

If you’re having trouble getting started in discovering the right extensions for your business, take a look at what your online peers are doing. Typically, this requires a bit of detective work, but don’t worry—we’re not proposing that you become a hacker. Simply view the source code of a storefront’s website, and with a bit of careful reading and deciphering, you should be able to identify what tools they’re using.

Another option is to engage an ecommerce agency partner to help you identify the right third-party tool that can help address the business gap that you want to fill.

2. Set goals and timelines

Many third-party extensions aren’t simply plug and play solutions. They need setup and maintenance to ensure they function as intended, and don’t create conflict with existing technology solutions on your site. Setup and maintenance require allocating resources, so it’s a good practice to set time-bound goals to keep yourself and your third-party solution partner accountable.

Setting goals early in the selection process helps you determine what type of third-party integration will work best for you, your employees, and your business. Trying to grow your customer base? Consider focusing your efforts on SEO and marketing-based integrations that drive customer acquisition. Struggling with keeping your finances in order? Find the accounting plugin that can help you automate your books and manage your tax information.

Every business needs to consider how their resources are allocated, whether it’s managing the rhythm of the business or managing third-party solution partners. Adding third-party integrations to the mix can present an additional strain on your resources. Goals can help you keep a pulse on both the value any extension brings to your ecommerce business as well as the allocated resources.

3. Go for a test drive

Buying a six-month subscription to that analytics integration might seem like a good investment in the moment, but if after a few weeks you’re ignoring the insights from the performance data, or don’t know what to do with the information, it’s an unnecessary sunk cost for your business.

While many of the more robust ecommerce tools require a financial commitment that can leave you locked in for several months, it’s often possible to take advantage of free trial periods or freemium versions that can provide a sense of what you’re signing up for.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your industry peers to see what tools they’ve tried, and get some insights on what worked and what didn’t.

4. Price it out, in time and money

Like we said, some of these tools can be costly—not only in terms of your bottom line, but also your time. Consider the costs both in terms of your business’s financial health, and your ability to allocate time and resources to using and optimizing the integration.

After you’ve identified the right tool that meets your business needs, consider negotiating a trial or pilot period if one isn’t offered by the vendor you select.

5. Be careful

Security is at the forefront of shoppers’ concerns, and we know it’s high on your list as well. Many third-party plugins handle a wealth of sensitive customer information, and it’s important to verify that their privacy and security protocols meet your rigorous requirements. Adding third-party integrations to your business mix doesn’t have to mean that you accept or take on unnecessary information handling risk.

There are many third-party plug-ins that can benefit your business. As a service that integrates with most ecommerce providers, Buy with Prime brings the trust of Amazon while empowering online brands to offer fast, free shipping and easy returns directly on their ecommerce website.

The goal of using third-party ecommerce integrations is to make your life easier. Every one of the tools you’re using should help you focus on delivering a customer experience that is delightful and seamless.

Ready to get started with Buy with Prime? Sign up now.

Related resources

Buy with Prime 101 for Shopify merchants

Alloy apps for Buy with Prime

6 time-saving hacks to help you prioritize innovation

Kelby Johnson