eCommerce is an industry that is growing massively. As of 2019, it was worth $2.3 trillion and was expected to nearly double in size. The market size is incredible, but so is the competition.
Starting an eCommerce business is an excellent move, but you need to be sure you are supported in the ways you need to ensure the success of your project. The best way to do so is by choosing the best platform for your eCommerce business.
But how can you know which platform works best for you? Well, today we’ll walk you through the things you need to know about eCommerce platforms to choose the best one. Let’s get started.
The Importance of Selecting the Right eCommerce Platform
The platform that you choose to develop your eCommerce business will dictate your ability to scale and grow, the costs associated with maintaining it, and how your customers can engage with it.
It is not enough to simply list your products on a website. The amount of management and knowledge required to build and run an eCommerce business properly is massive. That’s why you need to be sure you are using the right platform.
The right platform will help you automate and streamline tasks that would normally require a person to oversee, making your store run much more smoothly and efficiently.
When it comes to choosing a platform for your eCommerce business, you need to consider the following:
- Scalability: How quickly do you expect your business to grow? The platform’s ability to scale will matter for businesses that grow quickly.
- Operating costs: You need to think about the cost to create, operate, and maintain your platform before you choose one.
- Customer use: The level of ability for your customer to engage with your store needs to be considered as well.
- Objectives: Ultimately, you need to look for a platform that allows you to deliver on your plans and objectives.
eCommerce Platform Options
There isn’t a single best option when it comes to platforms, as it will mostly fall down to the individual needs of each online store. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to eCommerce businesses.
The best platform will be the one that fits best with the needs of your particular store, as well as providing you with the tools to deliver on your objectives.
When it comes to choosing a platform, you have 5 options. These are:
Using a Traditional platform
This entails purchasing a license fee for the use of the platform, which is normally renewed annually. The platform normally works as a basis to work and expand from, with your team of developers customizing the features you want and installing new ones on top of the existing infrastructure. It is considered the best eCommerce platform for small businesses that have just started their journey in the digital world.
Examples of these are Kentico, Oracle Commerce, Hybris, and IBM Digital Commerce.
Using an Open-Source platform
The main difference between open-source and traditional platforms is that you don’t pay for a license upfront. They both require extensive development, implementation, upgrades, and migration.
Magento is an example of an open-source platform.
Using Cloud-based platform
Cloud platforms are those hosted on the web entirely as opposed to having your physical servers or a mix of the two. These are similar to SaaS with the exception that they aren’t necessarily all the same as with SaaS.
Cloud-based platforms are known for their ability to accommodate both big companies and small projects. So if you’re someone who has just stepped into the industry and wondering how to start an eCommerce business from the scratch, we’d suggest going with this platform.
Some examples are Demandware, Volusion, Salesforce Commerce, and Magento Enterprise Cloud.
Using a “Software as a Service” based platform
A Software as a Service platform, or SaaS, is normally created from a single codebase. This means that everyone uses the same technology and has the same experience. A fixed fee is paid every month that includes the server use, security and upgrades, and maintenance costs.
Building your own platform
If you find that none of the platforms out there fit the idea that you have in mind, you could always opt to have your own one built. This would require contracting developers to create it, either internally through an in-house team or externally via contractors.
This could end up being rather costly and probably isn’t necessary in the majority of cases. Especially if you’re looking for an eCommerce platform for your small business.
6 Factors to Consider when Selecting an eCommerce Platform
For those looking to use an established platform, be it traditional, SaaS, or others, you need to consider several factors before you select your vendor.
Here are 6 factors to think about when choosing a platform for your eCommerce business:
- Vendor Support
You want to make sure that the vendor will be there for you if support is required for your platform. There are times when in an eCommerce business things don’t go as expected, and you’ll need the experience of the platform owner to help you set things right.
Vendors that offer 24-hour emergency support and can be reached through different channels are ones that you should be on the lookout for.
- Ability to Scale
As mentioned before, scalability is an important factor for the platform that you’ll choose. You need one that can be scaled as your business grows to meet its demands. If the vendor you are considering working with has a platform that doesn’t scale well, that could be a problem for you in the long run.
- Expertise and Experience
Online platforms are incredibly complex, so you want to be sure that the vendor you’ll work with has the necessary experience and skills to bring the vision of your eCommerce business to life. Check reviews from previous customers, examples of stores they’ve worked with, and anything else you can use as proof of their work. A proud vendor should already be highlighting the clients they have worked with.
eCommerce platforms manage a lot of sensitive information, like credit cards, contact information, and addresses. You absolutely must ensure that the information of your customers is protected. Verify that the security protocols used by your vendor meet the necessary criteria.
- SEO Support
SEO is incredible in terms of growing your eCommerce business and website. As such, you’ll want to work with a platform that offers a wide variety of SEO features to increase your ability to rank on search engines. Some of these features are:
Enabling customer reviews
Using your Domain Name
Adding a Blog to your eCommerce platform
- Mobile Support
Nowadays more and more people are navigating the web and doing their shopping through their mobile phones. Mobile commerce is expected to be 53.9% and $3.56 trillion of all eCommerce sales in 2021.
If your vendor can’t build a mobile-friendly platform, you’ll be losing on a sizable market share.
Features to Look for in an eCommerce Platform
There are many features that eCommerce platforms can have, and which ones you’ll need will largely depend on the type of business you have. However, some features are universally important for all eCommerce businesses alike. Here are some of the ones you need to watch out for:
- Flexible pricing: You need the option to make discounts and promotions easily.
- Multiple payment gateways: Being able to provide customers with more than one option to pay increases conversion.
- Website personalization: You’ll want an engine that offers tools to personalize the experience of each shopper, such as recommending products.
- Flexible shipping: Make sure the platform has the support of a great logistics and distribution company.
- Customer review system: a platform that allows for reviews will improve the trust of customers and increase conversion rates.
- Robust catalogue: You want a platform that allows you to customize your catalogue in-service and expand it with new features.
- eCommerce Analytics: Being able to monitor the metrics and KPI of your website is vital.
- Google Merchant integration
- Facebook integration: Integration with Facebook Business allows you to easily link your Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram accounts for product displays and tags.
- Tax and account calculation: If your store is international, you need to ensure you are following the tax laws of every market you operate in. Find a platform that makes this process easier.
What to Avoid When Choosing an eCommerce Platform
Sometimes finding the right platform is more about knowing what to avoid than looking for specific features. When looking for a platform for your eCommerce business, avoid these 4 common mistakes:
- Investing in old platforms
Avoid investing in platforms that don’t update their infrastructure or have one that is not flexible. These types of platforms will only lead to slow performance and headaches when looking to implement new features.
- Selecting Platforms that are Difficult to Scale
Scalability is critical to the long-term health of your eCommerce platform. If the platform that you are considering using doesn’t have the infrastructure necessary to support a scaling business, avoid it.
- Unnecessary Features
Having a lot of features is nice, but you want to make sure you are not paying extra for services and features that you won’t make use of. Focus on platforms that offer exactly what you need, but allow you to add new features if necessary.
- The Wrong Customization
Customizing your platform is essential to delivering an experience tailor-made for your users, but you need to make sure you are going about it the right way. Don’t try to bend a platform that isn’t designed for your goals, but look for one that is easier to adapt to the needs of your eCommerce business.
Working with Ecartize
If you are still unsure of which eCommerce platform to choose, Ecartize is here to make that choice easier for you.
Our focus on innovating and providing a customer-centric approach towards your eCommerce business means you will always be on the top of the game and with a vendor that has your back.
When you work with us, you are working with a company that has:
10+ Years of experience
Prices starting at $99
Free service trials
350+ Experienced experts
Ability to save on costs by up to 60%
So what are you waiting for? Contact us today.