Triggered by the pandemic, online shopping has witnessed unprecedented growth across all categories. This habit will stick as more and more customers continue shopping online. Whether you’re starting with an online store or are an established brick-and-mortar store that’s moving online, the eCommerce platform that you host your store on has a significant impact on your business. No matter the kind of business you operate, the success of your store will depend on the eCommerce platform you choose.
The eCommerce market is growing steeply, with retail sales projected to grow about 85%, from USD 3.53 trillion in 2019 to USD 6.54 trillion in 2022.
So no matter the kind of category you’re operating in, you must be strategic in your decision of choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business as a lot relies on this. Your chosen eCommerce platform should be an all-in-one software solution that empowers your business to manage everything from sales, and accounting, to marketing. While creating phenomenal growth opportunities the platform should also streamline operations.
There are three main eCommerce platform options:
- SaaS (software-as-a-service)
- Headless commerce
Choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business depends on your digital commerce objectives and the present and future needs of your business. Let’s examine the factors determining the choice of eCommerce platform for your business:
eCommerce platforms can either be self-hosted or on the cloud. Your choice of web hosting platform should depend on factors like payment processing services, security updates, SSL, etc. For self-hosting platforms you have to take care of the installation and the updates yourself, making it expensive at times. For cloud-based platforms, the costs are lower, and there is better customer support but the control over servers is less. Open-source platforms like Magento and WooCommerce offer better control and ownership as the source code is accessible and can even be modified.
SaaS platforms are a cheaper option than open-source platforms but the lack of flexibility and customization is a matter of concern. Choose a web hosting platform that meets your business needs and allows you to deliver an omnichannel experience to customers.
eCommerce platforms offer competitive packages but paying more doesn’t always equate to better performance. Each business has a budget and specific requirements for eCommerce platform installation. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar store moving online or a business looking to get into the online scene, price is a factor that concerns all. Before you choose an eCommerce provider, come up with an approximate budget while keeping your business requirements in mind.
Along with the monthly fees, there are also maintenance and processing costs associated with the implementation. There are also ongoing costs that can make the budget go astray. To assess the final costs of the platform, ask your vendors questions like what will be the hosting costs? What are the licensing fees of the platform? What will be the estimated development and implementation costs? What are the maintenance costs of the platform?
Integration with business software
Learning after migration that your platform doesn’t integrate with key business software is a huge business loss. Integrations and plugins are essential for smooth business functioning but not all platforms offer the kind of integration that a business needs. There are some essential plugins for accounting, sales, email integration, customer loyalty programs, payment and shipping integration, along with integration with 3rd party digital tools like ERP, CRM, etc.
Before migrating or implementing an eCommerce platform, ensure that it integrates with major plugins at no additional costs. Failing to do so can make your business operate in silos, and can land you in choppy waters despite aiming for an integrated solution. Look for a solution that leaves you the flexibility to add your existing systems and provide a seamless experience.
Speed and scalability
Seamless user experience has become one of the cornerstones for delivering impeccable customer service. With the high competition in the market, users prefer sites that load fast and do not hamper their experience. For evaluating platform performance check for 404 errors, page loading speeds, frozen pages, and other indicators of poor site performance. It is also important to understand how much traffic your site can handle at peak hours or during the sale season – so that it doesn’t crash during the main hours. Reviewing site speed should be critical during the assessment.
Every business desires to scale up and grow as time progresses. However, if your system doesn’t keep up the pace then there’s not much you can do. When selecting an eCommerce platform, keep the scalability factor in mind- does it have the potential to grow and accommodate your business as it expands? Look for a scalable solution that offers out-of-the-box functionalities and supports your business needs.
Product management system
Inventory and product management is the lifeline of every eCommerce business. Failing to meet customer requirements on time or not sourcing and storing quality products can land your business in trouble. For seamless management, your eCommerce system should reflect warehouse data correctly and provide functionalities like bulk product upload to the site, categorization, advanced filtering options, shopping options, etc.
When the admin has more control over the system and can design a robust website with enhanced functionalities, the business stands to maximize its revenue. Managing products effortlessly from the platform, managing discounts and promotional offers, and uploading correct product descriptions and images boost your credibility and steer you ahead of the competition.
Protecting your store and customer data should be a top priority for any eCommerce business. In a world where cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, you can never be too careful. There are stringent laws to protect customer privacy and failing to protect it can result in serious reputational damage. Security issues have become fairly common with many eCommerce sites regularly reporting phishing, identity thefts, and other cyber malpractices.
When choosing an eCommerce provider, look at the security credentials offered by the platform and if it offers advanced security options like monitoring for DDoS attacks and fraud protection. The platform should also be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, have SSL certificates, and secure data backups. Your service provider should display a high commitment to your site’s data protection and security.
Payment gateway support
Customers are always looking for a smooth checkout experience that offers multiple payment gateway options. Providing multiple payment gateway options to customers like Paypal, Credit Card, Debit Card, etc. has proved to increase conversion. If you’re looking to sell in international markets, having integrations with local merchants or payment options will be beneficial. eWallets are generating enough traction and are growing as the preferred form of payment.
So whatever platform you choose should provide a variety of payment options that meet your customer requirements in different geographies.
Choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business is a difficult task as there are several aspects to consider. Along with the mentioned factors, check for mobile friendliness, SEO capabilities, personalization options, and user-friendliness. Your provider should be able to match your budget, required functionalities, business needs, and security requirements. There are several eCommerce service vendors in the market like Magento, Kentico, nopCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, etc. that can help you in becoming successful online.
Looking to build your eCommerce store on the latest technology but struggling to find the right partner? We have got you covered! At Citytech Software, we have immense experience working with the top technology platforms to build robust websites for our global clients across various verticals. If you don’t have a clear plan in your head, we can help you by assessing your business needs and suggesting the right platform for your business. Our trained and experienced Developers make the implementation process a breeze, and you get a site that is customized to your requirements.