An e-commerce platform is the base on which you get to build your online business for the purpose of online shopping. This essentially means that your business website is nothing but a shop front akin to a physically existing store. Just as much there are well arranged aisles and rows of products in the brick and mortar store, the online store displays your business products in categories and sub-categories making them easy to find. These apart there are aspects of inventory management, stock-taking, order processing and of course, financial transaction record maintaining in online stores as in physically existing stores.
A successful online shop is one that is built on an e-commerce platform that fulfils the business’s targets and objectives. It is important that you make a judicious pick of one such e-commerce platform that will cater to end-to-end management as you run your online business.
To start with, make a strategic layout of your business goals, its challenges and future prospects of your online store. There are crucial factors to consider like costs, ease-of-use of the software, its scalability, integrating with your business Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and social media channels, security issues and cost of maintenance.
Here’s a complete guide on what to look out for when choosing the right and business specific e-commerce platform, read on…
Cost of e-commerce platform will depend on the type of business, its size, sales volume and the type of solution you’re looking for. There are platforms like Magento that charge yearly licensing fee and again those like Shopify that run of monthly subscription model. These apart, there is the cost of design and development of the business website/online store that will depend on its complexity and feature integration. Consider all of these factors well when outlining your budget for building an online shop.
Functionality of your online business store has two parts to it – the front-end needs and the back-office integrations.
⦿Your choice of e-commerce platform should be guided by the kind of look and feel to want to give your online store. The information and display that customers have access to at a glance will have definite say while making the pick. Moreover, there is also the option of customization that you should weigh well while building your ecommerce store.
⦿ Smooth backend operation options will ensure that you carry out the end-to-end management of your business with total ease. Opt for an e-commerce platform that offers ease-of-use when it comes to managing your inventory, orders, processing and of course, financial transactions and gateway management.
Customer engagement & experience is what guides all e-commerce business and you sure have to build a store that will optimize this aspect. Choose an e-commerce platform that will enable your customers find what they are looking for with the least of efforts. Let them use category specific filters and personalize their search experience each time they visit your online shop. Platforms that have predictive search capabilities and offer cart persistence features will surely be better choices than those that lack them.
Customer management tool integration is an indispensible aspect of online business that will not just help you build and manage relationships with your existing customers but also help in expanding customer base. Communicating with your shoppers through e-mails, sending them new offers and letting them know of the latest addition to collection through social media means using a robust Customer Relationship Management tool that has to be integrated well with the e-commerce platform. Make sure that the platform you choose will enable integration of the specific CRM that you opt for.
Mobile compatibility of business sites go beyond them being just responsive. Successful e-commerce sites have special features like “click-to-call” and “click-to-map” buttons on screen letting direct customer interaction from their mobiles. This warrants that mobile sites are structured specifically to avoid coding issues and increased page load time. Opt for the e-commerce platform that will let you have these features included seamlessly.
SEO of your online business will be more successful when you build it on platforms that support these aspects. After all, you will have to market your store and its content all over relevant digital platform to stay a cut above the stiff competition from your peers. Considering the fact that optimal SEO involves factors like mobile view, UX experience, page speed and others, you should find one that does well with them all! Magento is a fully customizable e-commerce platform that is highly conducive for SEO, WooCommerce is SEO-ready. OpenCart supports SEO of product URLs and Shopify offer unique Search Engine Optimization.
Performance & scalability are important to determine choice of platform in building online stores as they will determine how well the site can handle business traffic and future expansion plans. Online customers have very short attention span and they will want the site to load products immediately even without a second’s delay. This aspect may not be a problem when traffic to the site is low but, with increased load, it is likely to be an issue. Your e-commerce platform should be able to handle it easily and also be prepared to accommodate expanding business addition to the site with equal élan.
Security is yet another crucial aspect that becomes an all-important factor when choosing the right e-commerce platform. There is security of your business data, customers’ data and of course, gateway encryption and more, all of which will go a long way in eliciting customers’ confidence. Magento is a powerful platform with robust security features while Shopify offers additional layer of security to its users. You will have to choose one that complements all other previous factors before making the final call.
Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages that you have to carefully weigh out depending on your business type and genre. While one platform may be ideal for building an electronic online business shop, it may not be ideal for one that will sell ladies accessories or lingerie. Put on paper your needs, online business ideals and objectives and get in touch with the experts to build a precise roadmap to its best development process using the apt platform.
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