How To Choose The Right e-Commerce Platform?

Choose The Right e-Commerce Platform
E-commerce has changed the way people shop forever. E-commerce as a business model is growing globally at an unprecedented rate. We're talking a growth of up to $4 trillion sales by 2020. In this drastically changing competitive scenario, how do you determine which is the best e-commerce platform for you? We understand it is a critical decision and hence this article is aimed to help you decide the best e-commerce software solution for your business.

Why Is e-Commerce Popular?

The internet has changed buying behaviors. Whether you are a start-up, small business or a huge brand, you cannot ignore the many benefits of E-commerce. The harsh reality is, if you are not well represented online you are dying. Since you are already looking for the best e-commerce software solutions, we take it that you do need to be told about the benefits. Maybe you want to change from your current platform. Which brings us to the pertinent question. Amongst the hundreds of e-commerce platforms, how do you find the right fit and which factors do you consider before deciding the best e-commerce platform for you?
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What Features To Consider Before Choosing An e-Commerce Platform?

The features that are important to you will differ according to your business type. A value-added reseller of IT supplies, for example, would look for certain features that may not be of importance to someone in the fashion and lifestyle business.

Nonetheless, these are the top features you should compare when deciding:

1. Pricing - What Do You Get For Your Buck?

Let’s get to the most important question! Whatever the size of your business you need to know exactly how much you would be paying and for what services?

The cost will vary depending on the type of e-commerce software solution you choose. The various options are:
  • Build Your Own: You contract someone either internally or externally to build it for you.
  • Traditional Platform: You purchase a license fee up front which you renew annually. Your IT and Dev team then build and customize.
  • Open Source Software: No upfront costs, though you must pay for initial development, domain name, migration, upgrades and plugins.
  • Cloud-Based Applications: Traditional and Open Source Platforms that offer a cloud-based hosting system.
  • SaaS Platform: Built on a single codebase, everyone who utilizes an eCommerce SaaS platform experience the same technology for a fixed monthly fee that covers server use, maintenance, security and upgrades

Most e-commerce software solutions charge a monthly fee. The price will vary on the type of platform you choose. Weigh the pros and cons of each platform before you determine the best e-commerce platform for your business needs.

2. Multiple Payment Gateways

Let your customer choose the payment method they prefer. Payments are central to your e-commerce ecosystem and yet payment issues are among the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Slow checkout processes and lack of available payment methods discourage shoppers from continuing with the purchase. Multiple payment gateways will help your business capture opportunities and increase your revenue, and a competitive e-commerce software solution provider knows this.

The payment options your e-commerce platform must offer are:
  • Multiple payment options which include PayPal, credit and debit cards.
  • If you are a global entity or wish to grow your e-commerce store internationally, you need to offer local payment gateways as well.

Many European countries prefer bank transfers using their online bank accounts. China has Alipay and Union Pay while M-Pesa is popular in many African countries.

Allowing your customers to pay via methods they know and are familiar with helps reduce hesitation during the checkout process.

3. Automated Tax Calculations

If you are a global e-commerce business, you would need to abide by the tax laws of different countries alongside their currency requirement.

Failure to do so could lead to various legal repercussions. Some of the best e-commerce platforms offer this automation and take away the hassle of currency conversion, taxation, etc.

4. Scalability

As a business owner, you aim to grow your business exponentially. It is imperative to look for an e-commerce software solution that can scale alongside your business. As an entrant in the e-commerce business, you may not want to pay for unnecessary features and storage. But as your business takes off, you want an e-commerce software that can scale with the increased demands of your business without charging you exorbitant fees for doing so.
Choose The Right e-Commerce Platform

5. Integration

Does the e-commerce platform support integration with your existing ERP or POS systems? It is essential that business fully integrates both systems so that the inventory and pricing information is available to customers and staff in real-time. Many eCommerce platforms support one-way integration or batch updates, the best e-commerce software for your business will be a platform which equips two-way, real-time flow of data thus allowing you to operate efficiently as a business in several of your key processes.

If you do not use ERP software or are looking to transfer all your business requirements to an e-commerce platform, you need to be armed with specific tools to successfully continue the business.

In this scenario, the functions of an e-commerce software vis-à-vis marketing that you would also require are various plugins that support accounting, inventory management, shipping and freight calculations, etc.

The best e-commerce software solution for a value-added reseller will be one that seamlessly integrates with multiple distributor catalogs. The level of integration would depend on your business needs, and you should pick the e-commerce platform that best fulfills all the requirements of your fundamental business processes.

6. Mobile Friendliness

By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are predicted to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales. 60% of searches are done from mobile devices and, often those searches result in sales.

As long as consumers have a mobile phone, they can shop anywhere they want. Even traditional buying from a brick-and-mortar shop is influenced by consumers looking up additional information on a product or for better deals online via mobile phones.

Google favors websites that have a responsive design. If your e-commerce platform doesn’t optimize your store for mobile devices, it will get pushed down in rankings and search results. This is a sure-fire way of losing a significant number of potential customers.

An added advantage will be an e-commerce platform that offers a mobile app. There is a mobile app for almost everything today, and you do not want to get left behind.

7. Personalization

A personalized online experience is important to today's buyer, and the successful retailer leverages this with continuously improving their product offering to new and existing customers and nurturing their customers’ shopping experience.

Popular e-commerce software solutions come equipped with a powerful search engine and a recommendation engine which shows individualized offers, content or suggested items-to-buy based on the consumers buying history, browsing behavior, search history, purchase history data, demographics, etc. If the e-commerce platform does not offer personalization, you are losing revenue.

8. Compatibility With Marketing Methods

You want an SEO friendly e-commerce software solution which enables your e-commerce store to rank high in search results.

Some important factors when looking for an SEO friendly e-commerce platform include:
  • Does it allow you to add a blog to your website?
  • Can you use your own domain name?
  • Can your customers leave reviews?

Other marketing functions of e-commerce software you need to research are:
  • Integrations with marketplaces: Can you easily import your product catalog to various marketplaces like Google Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, etc.
  • Social media integration: Can you sync your products to your social media and tag products in your posts? Can you share discount codes and coupons on your social media?
  • Email marketing tools: Email lists are a powerful asset for eCommerce to aid in customer acquisition, lead nurturing and repeat purchasing. Does your chosen e-commerce platform allow you to collect data, build lists, create email campaigns or automate your email marketing strategy?
  • Can you connect your e-commerce product listings with blog posts so that you automatically promote the product when you share the blog posts on social media?

9. Security

Sensitive data security is becoming one of the biggest concerns among consumers and credit card fraud is only getting worse. Would you be comfortable entering your credit card information or bank details on a sketchy website?

The onus of taking appropriate measures to secure transactional information is on retailers. Any e-commerce platform you choose MUST be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.

If you choose to host and manage your own e-commerce platform (i.e. a custom solution), you will need to ensure PCI compliance for your business.

10. Choose An E-commerce Platform That Works for You!

Following the approach above you should be able to narrow down your options and find the best e-commerce platform for your business. Do not get influenced by a platform that is popular if it does not support all the essential processes of your business. You want an e-commerce software solution that compliments and enhances your business and assists you grow and rake in the profits.

AUTHOR_NAMEAbout the Author:
Shane is an American writer for various digital news publications. After being in the ecommerce industry for more than 15 years, Shane has a good understanding of what it takes to make an ecommerce business successful. He likes to cover newsworthy events related to business management software, best ecommerce platform, customer relationship management (CRM), Quoting software, and Value Added Resellers.

His articles give insights into the latest trends in the B2C and B2B e-commerce industry. His e-commerce coverage is robust and provides everything from the best e-commerce platform to improving your website site.
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