Using a pre-built eCommerce system has many advantages over hiring a web developer to build a bespoke one, such as its ease of use and regular updates provided. If you’ve decided pre-built is the way to go, then you need to decide on a platform for your online retail business. Which one should you choose? That’s the purpose of this guide featuring everything you need to know about picking the right eCommerce platform for your online store.
First and foremost, you want to implement an eCommerce platform that is safe and secure. It will handle hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions in payment, so it needs to be robust and well protected against viruses and other cybercrimes. Before landing on a platform, ensure you understand its security benefits and how they will keep sensitive payments details safe for you and your customers. Select an eCommerce platform with round-the-clock support. Other aspects to look out for include SSL certificates, firewalls and HTTPS.
Stock size and scalability
The size of your stock is one of the primary contributing factors for choosing the best platform for your retail business. Always consider the number of products you have – the eCommerce platform will need to grow with you as your business expands and you sell more items. It will act as the central hub of your business and needs to accommodate the changing needs of your company. A platform unable to scale could hinder the progress of your business.
Customers expect flexibility over how they pay for products and services, and offering only basic credit, debit card and PayPal payments won't be enough. You need to make paying as easy as possible, providing alternative payment methods like Apple Pay and the ability to spread the cost via buy now, pay later and other forms of digital credit. If the eCommerce platform doesn't offer flexible payments, can a third-party provider easily integrate into the software? You don't want to leave yourself in a position where you can only offer customers a few different payment methods.
The cost of the eCommerce system needs to be right for your business needs. You should also think about how you want to pay, be it monthly instalments or a small percentage of a sale to the company hosting your online store.
An eCommerce platform with built-in SEO features will help your website rank better in search engines. When searching for SEO-friendly eCommerce options, look for aspects like the ability to add your blog, freedom to use your own domain name and customer review capabilities. All of these factors help contribute to higher SEO rankings, which means your business stands a better chance of being seen online.
Online shopping is no longer rooted in desktop use, with an increasing number of customers preferring to buy on the go. Around 79% of smartphone users have purchased products using their phones, with numbers expected to grow. Therefore, it’s vital that your eCommerce platform not only offers mobile device compatibility but also performs to a high level and offers a seamless shopping experience, no matter the device.
With the likes of Google Analytics, you don’t necessarily need an eCommerce platform with high-end reporting tools. Yet, it’s still worth considering when choosing the best option for your online retail business. Whether it’s the best-performing products or pages with the most website visits, there's a range of eCommerce metrics and KPIs you should monitor, and having them built into the platform offers increased transparency over the numbers that matter.
Google Merchant integration
The ability to integrate your platform with Google Merchant allows you to upload and maintain product information on the relevant Google Shopping results. Consequently, you can drive more traffic to your product listing pages and benefit from increased sales and revenue streams.
Social media integration
A growing number of customers find and buy products and services through social media. For your business, there's an opportunity to sync products to social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and increase the visibility of your products and services. Social media can also act as a customer support mechanism, where you can offer advice to shoppers about how to purchase on your website.
Your chosen eCommerce platform should offer support for you and your customers. It needs to provide the foundations for a capable customer support system able to handle all hours of the day, especially as online stores don't shut. And from your perspective, you want to be able to get in touch with support staff who can help you with queries about using the platform. Look for extensive support all year round, live chat and social media support, as well as online communities.
Summary: choosing the best platform for your online retail business
There’s plenty to factor in when deciding on the best platform for your online retail business. With these tips, you can ask the right questions and implement the best fit for your company’s needs so that you integrate a platform able to meet customer demand and help your business thrive.