Choosing an e-commerce platform is not always an easy task. In the end it’s the customers and the industry trends that determine which one we should choose.
So let’s take a look at how to choose the best one.
What is an e-commerce platform?
An e-commerce platform is a software tool that can be used to centralize the operations every business needs to integrate to sell its products and/or services online and be competitive. Its features include a wysiwyg website, purchasing platforms and sales management tools, in addition to standard business tools. This is how businesses can centralize all of their management tasks, with considerable time savings and better agility. Having an e-commerce platform improves profitability and prevents the use of makeshift solutions – such as plugins – in any type of business. With an e-commerce platform, businesses can create an attractive online store without the need to have web development skills.
6 aspects that you should consider before choosing an e-commerce platform
Now that we know the importance of having a management platform for our e-commerce website, it is time to think about the specifications that it should have in order to be efficient and useful to us.
1. Social media integration
The importance of a good Social Media brand profile management is beyond question. According to Digital 2019 Global Digital Overview (January 2019), Facebook has 2.27 billion active users, Instagram exceeds 1 billion and Twitter 326 million users. These are followed by LinkedIn (303 million), Snapchat (287 million) and Pinterest (250 million). With this amount of users, having a platform which can manage social networks could be the difference between the success and failure of an ecommerce retailer.
A platform should allow for direct integration with social networks’ own sales platforms, and also for publishing product catalogs on those social networks. Another aspect to keep in mind is the purchase process from the customers’ viewpoint who, when buying a product, in some cases won’t even need to leave the social network they are browsing to complete the process.
The integration can go further, allowing for social login and also offering share buttons for purchased products. This gives your platform a feeling of community. Your followers, sharing your products amongst groups is the very best marketing you can have.
2. User Experience
Current e-commerce platforms are fundamentally an advancement of a process that started with direct purchase requests (the early days of eBay), then moved on to shopping carts (Amazon), and later evolved into plugins (WooCommerce). Nowadays their features are much more technical, but being simple to use remains just as important.
3. The number of items that can be put up for sale
In some companies, the number of items up for sale can be high, and not all e-commerce platforms can be as effective when dealing with large catalogs. It is important for our tool to be able to quickly transfer data (product description, characteristics, images, etc.) from the catalog to the online store. In addition, we should have a quick edit option to handle issues such as price and stock changes (updating units available for sale, stock, etc.).
4. Customer support
If an online store is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so should its customer service. It is essential to know how an e-commerce platform handles customer support requests under different circumstances; unusual hours, specific web traffic issues, average waiting times, etc. It’s also important to know how data related to each customer’s order history, favorite products and others can be migrated to the platform.
5. Competitive price
Contrary to what you might expect, e-commerce platforms aren’t that expensive. Open source platforms such as Prestashop are even free, with costs added for plugins and setup. The various options should not only be weighed up based on price, but also on cost-effectiveness, effort and features.
6. Number of features
An e-commerce website management platform can have a series of features that range from security to web hosting. The more the merrier; ecommerce managers can use these tools to focus on growth, and you don’t have to use them all! Regardless of the cost of buying a platform like these, the functions are the key consideration.
There are many types of e-commerce platforms on the market, but if there is one determining factor when opting for one or the other, that is how it fits with your business and your needs. Having an e-commerce platform will increase traffic to your website and online store and reach a greater audience. It also improves the entire sales process and increases the trust in your brand to boot.