For an eCommerce business, the platform they choose to operate on can make or break them. Though there are many options for eCommerce site development, a platform that meets the unique needs of a business is necessary to ensure that the eCommerce site runs smoothly and effectively.
Since there are so many options for eCommerce platforms, it can become overwhelming when trying to determine which features you actually need.
Here are some of the must-haves you should look for in an eCommerce platform.
1. Integration Capabilities
Many businesses turn to eCommerce platforms in an effort to enhance or supplement an existing legacy system they are using to manage their online business presence.
For example, perhaps a business only wishes to change the way they manage their checkout process, but they wish to keep other aspects of their site the same.
For a business to be able to see this through, they are going to need a platform that has the ability to perform in the way they intend it to in the checkout process, while also being able to merge into those existing components of their legacy system which they wish to remain unchanged.
As another example, perhaps your business is looking to create a totally new site. You have determined that it is essential that your preferred CMS be included in this development, and that the platform you choose must be able to work with your Linux operating system.
If you determine these stipulations to be essential, you should not compromise on demanding the ability to integrate these features with your new platform.
Armando Roggio of Practical eCommerce states “your ecommerce platform cannot work alone for long. You will need to integrate it with other software solutions to really get your business going.”
A business should be able to dictate how their site will function. The most effective way to ensure that the site is performing exactly as you want is to have a cohesive way to integrate the features you identify as being the most essential-whether they be within or outside of the platform you are using.
2. Flexibility for Growth
Flexibility for growth is another important feature that an eCommerce platform must have . As technology, customer demands, and opportunities change in the marketplace, businesses must be able to continually adapt to these changes.
The site you develop on your platform today might become totally inadequate 5 or 10 years from now. Therefore, to implement a platform that will not grow and adapt with your business is a waste of time and money. The platform you choose should be able to accommodate your changing needs.
It should also be designed to facilitate these transitions and changes easily. A flexible platform will provide your business the opportunity to quickly react to changes that businesses which do not have any flexibility will need time to catch-up to.
By ensuring that your platform will grow with you, you are able to position your company to be the front-runner in the constantly-changing B2C market.
To have a source of support come with a certain platform is also a critical feature in an eCommerce platform. The team of people who back a platform may be able to host your site, do the more intensive work that is required in development, and help you maintain the site so you can be free to handle other business issues.
Technical issues may also arise during times when you are working with the platform. For companies that do not have a development team in-house, the technical issues may be overwhelming. The ability to contact those who are experts behind the platform you are using is a way you can assure yourself that you will never have a problem that goes unsolved.
By making sure that you have a source to ask your questions and a team of people who will always be available to you, you are ensuring peace of mind and simplicity in using that platform.
For an eCommerce business, there is often not one single solution to developing a site. Different companies offer different products, and have different goals in mind when determining what they want from their eCommerce site.
For example, one site may sell physical products, while another may sell access to published content or even a mix of both.
The only way to ensure that your unique needs as a business will be met is to find a platform that has that ability to be customized.
Too often, businesses find a platform that cannot be adjusted to meet their needs, so the business responds by changing their desires in order to fit the accommodations of the platform. However, many businesses may not realize that this is a very unnecessary situation.
Just because a certain platform cannot accommodate your needs, does not mean you have to change your needs altogether. Instead, you have to change your platform.
Open-source platforms are a common way to accomplish the goal of creating very specific site features that you think are important without imposing limits on your expectations for the site.
A key advantage to open source software is not only customization options, but also the ability to differentiate your business.
With a platform that has the ability to be customized, all of the intricacies that you think will set your business apart can be accommodated into your platform. A business would be able to present their ideal site to the customer, and have the features they need on the back-end to manage their business efficiently.
The business can also be sure that they are making their eCommerce site stand out from the rest, because each component of the site was carefully considered, and serves a purpose to make the site function in the best way possible.
Therefore, your business is in complete control of what the site looks like and how it performs.
All of the above features are very important to find the ideal eCommerce platform. However, if you find an eCommerce platform with all of the must-haves yet you find it difficult to understand or use, then all of the features are essentially useless. The time and money invested in creating your ideal platform was also wasted.
Ankit Gulati of LinkedIn states “the importance of easy maintenance at the back end of the platform should not be underestimated”.
If a business is relying on this kind of complicated platform, it is possible that the back-end users will just abandon certain features they deem too complex and the site will suffer. If you are implementing a platform, and especially if you are paying to do so, the platform should be easy to use for your average person.
This will ensure that the site is being used to its fullest potential, and that you are able to use everything you need and potentially paid for.
No matter what features you wish to have for a platform, it is important that the entire platform offer you and your customer’s security.
eCommerce has always been susceptible to hackers. Data breaches seem to be a staple in the news, creating concern in the minds of consumers every time they input their personal information into a site.
A business should be able to ease the minds of their customers by demonstrating PCI compliance and safeguards designed to protect the data they have regarding personal customer information.
By eliminating the doubt that the transactions will be safe, an eCommerce business can facilitate a trusted and profitable B2C relationship.
Overall, there are several key features your business must look for in an eCommerce platform. By keeping these must-have features in mind, you can be assured that key details of your business will not be overlooked in the process of choosing a platform.
Make sure you choose the best platform for your business by prioritizing the 6 must-haves listed above.