How to Choose the Right eCommerce Platform: A Definitive Guide
eCommerce has long been on the rise. Since many years ago, consumer behavior has changed online, and merchants have increasingly responded by embracing digital channels and touchpoints more and more. COVID-19 undoubtedly expedited this trend, and as we move past the pandemic’s limits, digital will undoubtedly continue to be a key component of business operations. Organizations that can seize the possibilities will likely succeed, while those that take a “wait and see” approach will probably find it difficult.
Why is eCommerce So Important?
A system that enables customers to explore and buy products online is known as an eCommerce platform. They could be tangible items, digital goods, or services like subscriptions. eCommerce platforms include independent online enterprises and external marketplaces like Amazon, providing access to goods and services from several suppliers. There are several factors to consider before you decide on your eCommerce Platform.
The Digital Era Has Arrived!
As I’ve indicated, consumers increasingly use digital channels to accomplish their goals. While eCommerce growth has slowed with the reopening of physical stores, the rise of online shopping has permanently altered consumer purchasing habits. After the pandemic, 78% of respondents indicate they have done more internet shopping, and 86% of those respondents say they will continue to do so in the post-pandemic era. Retailers must be there for these customers where they expect to find them, which calls for a fantastic online shopping experience that is reliable and simple.
- It provides a large selection of items at affordable prices.
- Offers a smooth transition from order to fulfillment.
With new and infrequent users increasing their activity by 169% during the pandemic, the variety of customers comfortable with online buying has expanded, giving companies even more justification to engage in eCommerce. And now more than ever, merchants must consider the digital experience. B2B audiences still need services responsive to their unique context, but they are becoming more informed and affected by their interactions with leaders in the B2C market.
Keeping Up With The Customers
With the overwhelmingly high consumer demand, it is not surprising that retailers are rapidly enhancing and evolving their online offers. Between 2019 and 2024, eCommerce sales are projected to rise about 900% faster than sales at physical locations. Even before the pandemic, most merchants had plans to invest in sophisticated IoT and AI technology to support their online offerings.
As a result of this push for innovation and optimization to become a digital leader, online marketplaces and the services they support are being held to higher standards. Only those brands at the vanguard of digital will be able to provide eCommerce websites with the significant pulling factor needed to secure engagement, conversions, and repeat visits. Customer expectations nowadays are determined by the best interactions they experience online.
It Helps In Gathering Data
The cornerstone of any effective eCommerce strategy is data. Your eCommerce platform will enable you to access essential data that will help you better understand your target market. You can then use this information to design new features and improvements to boost customer happiness and business success.
With the help of analytical tools, you may gain a wealth of knowledge about patterns and trends, learn about frequent problems and important user journeys, and become specific about the campaigns and techniques that work best with your target demographic. However, it’s crucial to strengthen this understanding with direct audience feedback from user research, online surveys, and other tools like chatbots.
eCommerce platforms are a more affordable substitute for or addition to physical businesses because they do not have the high overhead costs of brick-and-mortar locations and in-store personnel. Increasing client self-service and relieving the burden of customer support personnel will result from making relevant product and policy information on your website clear and accessible.
To ensure that all customers have a choice in how they connect with brands and can obtain the information they need in a way that is convenient for them, this calls for a strong focus on accessibility. The most forward-thinking shops are experimenting with “agentive” design and technology, which incorporates parts of artificial intelligence to adapt to unique consumer interests and preferences, assist them in achieving their objectives, and enhance the experience. Moreover, automation can be implemented wherever it is practiced throughout the supply chain, supported by APIs and customized middleware that transfer data between systems and guarantee flawless buy journeys.
Growth In Revenue
Investing in an eCommerce platform can help you generate larger basket values and more repeat business by providing a convenient option for your clients to purchase your goods and services. You can improve this even further by implementing pertinent cross-selling and up-selling opportunities that rely on information about client preferences and behavior and data on purchasing trends and patterns.
While the lower entry hurdles promote expansion into new markets, geographies, and product lines, a heavy emphasis on the eCommerce experience also helps drive more significant client happiness, increasing the likelihood that customers will recommend a business to others.
Although accounting for digital behaviors and the peculiarities of the more significant eCommerce sector, the top eCommerce platforms successfully mimic the human touch of the in-store experience. Through the addition of value-added pre-purchase tools like product selectors, calculators, and enlarged and virtual reality simulators, as well as touchpoints for post-purchase aftercare and follow-up, your online platform can also be used to endorse customers at every stage of the purchasing journey.
Opportunities to improve consumer and eCommerce business support are also presented by integrating your eCommerce platform with your more extensive network of channels. By fusing the online and physical worlds, you’ll be able to give your consumers simplified, comprehensive journeys while gathering insightful data to find more chances for better service and efficiencies, enabling the ongoing development of your eCommerce platform and strategy.
Why It’s Important to Choose The Right eCommerce Platform
A single software system known as an eCommerce platform enables online firms to easily manage their websites, marketing, sales, and operations. A quick, cloud-based solution improves operational effectiveness, delivers memorable client experiences, and generates growth potential. Entry fees don’t have to be excessive. You may build the ideal storefront for your company on a relatively small budget. Before choosing your online store. For example, if you choose Shopify, you must consider its Pros and Cons, Statistics, and Pricing Plans.
Considerations For Selecting an eCommerce Platform
eCommerce platforms are professionals at framing and communicating their offerings as you promote your goods and services. With over 370 eCommerce solutions available globally, choosing the ideal eCommerce platform for your company can be challenging. Of course, you could also determine that a specially created solution is the best.
You must first control your cost-to-sales ratio to engage customers with the brand. You must also ensure the staff is fully supported in inputting sales and marketing strategy into practice.
Platforms for online sales might be cloud-based or self-hosted. In the former, you are responsible for finding the hosting, installing, and updating. This may get pricey. Better security management and more control over the internet platform are benefits. Also, your data is more clearly visible. You can obtain hosting for a forum hosted in the cloud using services like AWS (Amazon Web Services), which indicates that the cloud platform controls the uptime of the brand. You will have less control over the servers, but the expenses are lower, and the customer support is better. The server cannot be customized to meet your unique requirements.
You can have more robust control and ownership with open-source systems (like WooCommerce and Magento), as the source code is available and adaptable. You would be in charge of analytics, web hosting, security problems, and integrations (with things like CRM, CMS, or ESP). Firms prefer these kinds of platforms with an IT or development focus. However, you cannot change features through updating or any other means. Moreover, they might grow excessively complicated and expensive to operate. They also demand far too much technological expertise.
Using a SaaS eCommerce solution entails renting a platform. Thus, it is fundamentally a less expensive choice than open-source solutions. The SaaS provider oversees all software management activities, including updates, security, hosting, etc.
Pricing is one of the first factors to consider when evaluating each eCommerce platform. You need to know the total cost of each forum, whether you’re a tiny firm just starting or an established brick-and-mortar store coming online.
There will almost always be a monthly subscription for platforms. With each forum, transaction fees are also included. While making decisions, you must consider both the up-front and ongoing expenditures. Don’t give up essential items in exchange for a lower price. To get the most for your buck, weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Consider how your customers will pay for your products as a last step in determining opportunity costs. For instance, specific platforms don’t support payment from external vendors (such as PayPal).
Integrations and plugins are additional important considerations when determining if your platform is among the finest eCommerce platforms. Not all systems support every integration, so comprehend your business needs before evaluating the offered features and functions. The most popular plugins to seek are listed below:
- Delivers financial data, such as sales, taxes, revenues, and profits.
- Email marketing gives you the ability to communicate with your customers.
- Customers can be rewarded for utilizing your products and making additional purchases through customer loyalty programs.
- Payment and Shipping: You may now process payments and ship goods quickly and accurately.
- Third-Party Digital Tools: Makes it simple to integrate with products like CRMs and ERPs and enables additional customization.
Who comes to mind when you think about the most well-known digital businesses? Airbnb? Lyft? Netflix? They strive to provide a fantastic, intuitive UX with their elegant minimalism, friendly interfaces, and wide range of options. According to research, a brand’s quality of user experience will excel both price and product as a crucial differentiator by 2020. Consumers today prefer to shop in interesting, immersive places rather than just buying goods.
A theme determines your online store’s style, and most eCommerce systems provide a choice of possibilities. Some pieces come with the subscription for free, while others are premium and cost extra. Being different from the competition is worth the cost because an excellent user experience is essential to converting visitors into customers. Web Design of your eCommerce Platform plays a significant role in customer satisfaction.
Speed of The eCommerce Platform
In the era of “Micro-moments,” which Google defines as “an intent-rich instant when a user turns to a device to react on a need to understand, go, do, or buy,” your platform must provide a speedy experience. And when you scale and expand the business, this has to stay the same. Choosing an optimized eCommerce platform for your business can skyrocket your sales.
While assessing the performance and scalability of a platform is not straightforward, you can look at the areas that might be problematic, such as slow load times, frozen pages, 404 errors, and other poor performance indications. An essential component of your evaluation is determining how many users the platform can support at once during high-traffic periods.
Looking for a cloud-hosted, scalable solution with out-of-the-box capabilities and features that meet your expanding business’s needs right now is advisable. It’s also essential to consider sophisticated caching techniques and the capacity to delete content when product descriptions need to be updated automatically. Make sure your users get sound technical and customer support as well.
Product Management System
The Product Management System is essential to the operation of your company. To provide an engaging purchasing experience, today’s admins immediately require advanced eCommerce product management.
It’s critical to take into account features and functions like bulk product upload (CSV, Excel files), classification, advanced features (such as wish lists, product comparisons, and recently viewed), shipping options, and dynamic filters when evaluating store functionality to create the best eCommerce platforms (i.e., sorting, price range, color, size, location, etc.). The admin will have more opportunities to maximize revenue with more control over designing a robust and dynamic store.
Security of The eCommerce Platform
In the digital age, website security issues are crucial. In addition to the fact that there are strict international regulations safeguarding consumer privacy, a security breach can harm one of your most essential assets: trust. Security problems aren’t your fault, but they do happen frequently. A new study indicates that the top forms of Internet eCommerce scams are criminal fraud (71%), scamming (66%), and email address theft (63%). And according to our research, security concerns in the IT and entertainment sectors are the most severe competence worries, with 51% and 44% of respondents, respectively, compared to topics like digital strategy and vision.
You must carefully assess the security credentials of the eCommerce platform you’re evaluating for your current demands and future expansion because you’re handling so much sensitive data. All give some level of protection by default, but many also provide additional security features like fraud protection and DDoS monitoring. Owners of online stores should take special care to guarantee PCI compliance, SSL, and safe data backups.
Payment Gateways Support
Customers can pay for your goods and services in various ways, and the process is straightforward. This calls for a connection between your store and a trustworthy, secure eCommerce payment gateway – a specialized processor that securely transfers money from your customers’ bank accounts into their own. Although it might seem obvious, not all eCommerce platforms are compatible with all payment gateways. Geographical considerations are vital; localizing the payment procedure is essential.
Although eWallets are expanding significantly globally, they still do not dominate the payments industry. So, be sure the platform you select offers you a good range of payment methods to appease your core clientele.
You may provide your online customers with a customized experience that puts your site beyond all others, thanks to machine learning and AI. A proper user-friendly web design can take your eCommerce Platform a long way! The finest eCommerce platforms have a rating system that dynamically suggests products to customers based on standards like:
- Demographics: location, age, sex, etc.
- Psychographics: lifestyle, personality, and interests
- Context includes location, time of day, type of device, and weather.
- Items that have recently been seen, active searches, and items in abandoned carts
- History: Past purchases, correspondence from back when you were an email member
- The platform may provide a real-time tailored experience to the customer by considering various data factors.
Merchants are looking at platforms with a mobile-ready interface for their online stores since mobile will account for increasing digital communication and transactions.
Nowadays, a sizable amount of internet purchases, including those for groceries, home items, prescription drugs, and other necessities, are made on smartphones. The most excellent eCommerce platforms will create a framework for a user-friendly, seamless customer journey. A well-designed mobile experience is essential from start to finish, including the design, navigation, layout, and overall user experience.
Search Engine Optimization(SEO)
The success of your store depends on search engine optimization (SEO), and the top eCommerce platforms will construct their architecture, taking SEO into account. Building organic SEO takes time, but it is made much simpler when the platform you use is created with best practices in mind and prioritizes staying up to date with Google’s algorithm updates.
When it comes to SEO, not all eCommerce platforms are made equal. You must determine whether SEO tools are supported, from essential functions like changing metadata (tags, descriptions), captioning, and describing images, to more complex ones like adding relevant titles and pagination in item search results.
Order Management System(OMS)
Your eCommerce experience must be easy and quick to place orders. According to research, 80% of online buyers anticipate regular updates on their orders. To compete, you must have an OMS that makes the process accurate, visible, and interactive. Thanks to features like order tracking, email notifications, and shipping service API, you can ensure purchases are executed correctly.
For customers to be confident that things are in stock and prepared for shipping, seamless communications between your OMS and Inventory Management System (IMS) must be seamless. ERP and CRM applications can be integrated using APIs or installed as plugins, among other essential connectors.
You should know about these things about eCommerce Platforms. Knowing about these things will help you choose the right eCommerce platform. Most eCommerce platforms being operated these days have considered these things before beginning. You can develop the best eCommerce platform by keeping the following things in mind:
eCommerce Site Navigation
First, check whether your navigation is straightforward and helpful. Consumers should be able to view your products online quickly.
In general, the navigation on most retail websites follows a pattern. Following this rule can be intelligent, as most business websites have menu bars in the top left and middle of the page. The quality of the product categorization in your menus is another thing to look at when it comes to navigation. The last thing you need is a lost sale due to a little typo when designing your website.
Checkout Page Usability
An online store usually ignores the checkout pages, even though doing so might be a terrific way to boost sales. How many of us have grown frustrated and looked for an alternative after becoming bored with a checkout process? An online store’s checkout process is one of the most crucial components to get right when closing a deal. Since one of the few situations when there is a margin of risk for the buyer, trust in this process is crucial.
An email address should be required, as well as a choice of whether to check out as a guest or to set up an account for later use as the initial step. This strategy enables you to do cart abandonment marketing if the consumer decides not to complete the purchase. Make sure the page is visually appealing and straightforward to read overall. You don’t want the customer of your product to be distracted in any way.
Keep Product Descriptions Concise
Persuading the buyer to click the “add to shopping basket” button is one of the final steps in making a sale. How is that done? By utilizing a solid product description. Not only is the product description crucial for SEO, but it also entices customers to purchase the goods. Each report should be tailored to your target customer once you fully understand who they are. Remember that product descriptions tend to be brief and straightforward, focusing on the main advantages for the buyer rather than providing a comprehensive list. Instead of focusing on enumerating every feature a product can have, try to capture the buyer’s interest.
Remember The Testimonials!
Including your website’s customer reviews and product testimonials is a quick and easy way to boost sales. These components can contribute to developing trust in your company, particularly when luring new clients. If you must set up your eCommerce website to display customer reviews, consider integrating Google Reviews.
Consider developing an email marketing campaign to increase the number of reviews on your website. Consider giving customers a discount on their upcoming purchase from you to promote participation.
Keep a Clean Website!
Including your website’s customer reviews and product testimonials is a quick and easy way to boost sales through multiple channels and is optimized for mobile devices! These components can contribute to developing trust in your company, particularly in choosing the right platform.
Sending out a survey to your current customer base and asking for input might be a good idea if you want to improve on specific design components on your website. This might be a terrific approach to remodeling particular sections of your website to suit the requirements of your target audience better.
Digital Engage will help increase a store’s visibility in engine results and attract more qualified traffic, increase your conversion rates, and ultimately, drive more sales. We offer various SEO services, including Shopify SEO, Local SEO optimization, Website Hosting Services, Shopify SEO Experts, etc.
Keep your Shopify store from getting lost in the shuffle. Let Digital Engage help you stand out and reach your full potential. Contact us today to learn more about our SEO services and how we can help take your business to the next level.