Tapping the power of ecommerce is a great way for business owners to grow their visibility and their bottom line. When you’re launching an online store, choosing the best ecommerce platform is critical to your success. Your ecommerce site is key to building your brand, winning customers, and gaining an edge over the competition. Here are a few tips to get you started.
When it comes to shopping online, today’s buyers have sky-high expectations. They want to shop on sites that are visually appealing, fully functional, and easy to navigate. As a business owner, there are countless ecommerce channels and features available on the market. Deciding how to best meet your customers’ needs and win business can quickly feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s so critical to choose the right ecommerce platform to grow your business.
Whether you’re selling custom tees to Instagram-loving millennials or manufacturing equipment to B2B corporations, launching an ecommerce business offers limitless opportunities to grow your brand. By the year 2040, it’s expected that 95% of purchases will be made online. When it comes to consumer buying habits, ecommerce isn’t just a fringe business opportunity; it’s upending the entire retail industry.
Interested in wielding the power of ecommerce but unsure of where to start? Let’s look at a few factors to consider when choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business.
So you want to launch an ecommerce business? Start with a plan.
By launching and maintaining an ecommerce website store, business owners can increase the visibility of their products to customers. But just as developing a brick-and-mortar retail space involves lots of planning and preparation, so too does implementing an ecommerce platform.
Taking time to carefully think through your ecommerce launch can be one of the best things you do for your business. Some studies have shown that 90% of e-commerce brands fail within four months of launch so it’s important to implement a pre-launch strategy that will attract the right audience and profitable sales.
It’s no longer enough to just provide the right products. You’ll also need to delight customers with seamless shopping experiences — which means choosing the right ecommerce platform can make or break your success. But with so many options to choose from, where do you start? Here are a few key factors you should consider:
Lay out your ecommerce goals
The best ecommerce platform is the one that can best deliver the goals and objectives you’ve established for your business. Thinking through what your goals look like, such as growing your brand’s reach, reducing cycle times, or simply increasing revenue, is important to know when selecting a platform.
Set your budget
Of failed ecommerce businesses surveyed, 32% said it was due to running out of cash. When setting your budget, account for every phase of your ecommerce business, from strategic planning to implementation, to customer management and maintenance.
Establish key features
A platform’s features play an influential role in a user’s experience and can impact buying behavior. Consider your audience and what features they may value. For example, adding a product review feature can improve trust in your product and proof that a product fits a customer’s unique needs.
Don’t skimp on website design
We’ve all landed on a website that feels outdated … or downright sketch. Poor website design can harm a brand’s credibility, impede conversion rates, or cause customers to bounce to a competitor. Just how critical is your ecommerce website design? One study found that 75% of consumers judge a business’s credibility based on the website design, alone. Ouch.
Designing a website is no easy feat. But today, making a beautiful ecommerce store is easy with turnkey ecommerce platform options and skilled ecommerce implementation partners. They can help you design a site that woos customers and aligns with your brand.
Enhance user experience & functionality
Creating a site with appealing visual content is important, but so is offering a user experience that is easy and efficient. Tour the platform as a customer, they’re the ones supporting your business so it’s important to navigate the site from their perspective.
Boost buyer experience on the frontend
The frontend of an ecommerce website is where your customers will interact with your brand. Your platform’s loading ability, accessibility practices, and ease of navigation are all key to driving conversions.
Seek seamless back-office integrations
Customers expect a smooth and convenient shopping experience. Seamless backend integrations, such as with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, should synchornize with your ecommerce platform. These integrations should simplify processes, such as real-time inventory tracking, so your customers never have to worry about an item they ordered never arriving.
Weigh performance with customer relationship management
Measuring your platform’s sales is essential to understanding your performance. That’s where a strong customer relationship management system comes into play, allowing you to analyze customer information and sales patterns to adjust your strategies. Today, more and more ecommerce platforms provide customer self-service options, which cuts the need for additional staff.
Consider flexible customization options
Do you have a very specific vision for your ecommerce platform? If you like being behind the scenes and modifying existing templates, try to make sure that the platform you choose supports that. Customizability is one reason why headless ecommerce options are popular; you can make changes to the frontend of the website, such as copy or images — without compromising code on the backend.
Gauge level of business complexity
In a competitive ecommerce field, a platform’s ability to handle complexities, such as supporting a high quantity of products or reducing intermediaries that affect time to market can be critical in reaching a customer before a competitor does.
Choosing a self-hosted vs. hosted ecommerce platform
When launching an ecommerce site, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether go for a self-hosted or hosted platform.
A self-hosted platform is like building a home without contractors or a predetermined blueprint. You’ll have complete control of the platform design, meaning ultimate customization over how the site will look and function.
Self-hosting plans can come with challenges. These platforms take more time to set up and maintain. Plus, you’re often paying for a set limit of resources and storage space meaning it’s possible you could outgrow your plan before your contract is up.
Hosted ecommerce handles the hosting, maintenance, and software for business owners, offering an all-in-one platform. With layouts and themes readily available, setting up a site is easy. All you have to do is populate content to go live – no coding skills required.
There can be downsides when it comes to hosted sites. The platform’s frameworks can be limiting. Not to mention that the more a site and its list of products or features grows, so too can the monthly fees.
Comparing ecommerce platforms
Stepping into the world of ecommerce can be overwhelming — especially with so many ecommerce platforms to choose from. Here are a few popular options.
- BigCommerce is known for its expansive built-in features along with unlimited products, file storage, and bandwidth. BigCommerce features are scalable, which may require more of a learning curve for users.
- Shopify offers a simple base platform with the ability to scale through the integration of applications available in their app store.
- VTEX is the only platform provider with ecommerce, marketplace and order management in one single service.
- WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin for ecommerce capabilities, WooCommerce’s website management software is free, and great for customization but requires coding knowledge.
- Wix is an easy-to-use ecommerce for small businesses that may be selling fewer online products but are still looking for creative freedom without needing to know how to code.
- Square provides competitive sales features on a user-friendly platform. While their layouts can be considered simple, it also means you’re less likely to make design mistakes.
Make ecommerce easy with Clouda
When you’re looking to take your business online, there is no shortage of platforms or features to choose from. If you’re looking for an ecommerce implementation partner to help build innovative solutions, then look no further than Clouda.
Clouda is here to make ecommerce implementation a breeze by offering features than will charm your customers and protect their data. Their team of experienced engineers can assist you with everything from pre-implementation and planning through to post-launch, making sure you’re not just following ecommerce trends but setting them. Learn more about how we can help you create an ecommerce Implementation Roadmap.