As large retailers like Amazon and Walmart push their digital customer experiences to the next level, smaller eCommerce companies must look for eCommerce solutions that will help them keep pace.
Whether you are a brick-and-mortar store going digital or an established eCommerce store looking to scale, you need to find the solution that works best for you and your customers.
Ed Kennedy, Senior Director of Commerce at Episerver, says three-quarters of retailers and brands will look to switch to a new eCommerce platform before 2021. These companies will have to consider several different factors when deciding on which platform will best suit their needs.
Some factors are more important than others, however. Your eCommerce solution needs to offer the following five features to fully serve both you and your customers.
1. Secure, User-Friendly Payments
Payment security is vital in an age where identity theft is growing. Frank Sorrentino, Chairman and CEO of ConnectOne Bank, says identity fraud costs US consumers about $1 billion a year. Even though individuals can take certain precautions on their own, brands must support their customers with a platform that has tight security measures.
On top of security, customers expect to have options when it comes to payments. There are several different ways to pay online today:
- Digital wallet payments
- Credit and debit cards
Though options are never a bad thing from the consumer’s perspective, having multiple options for your business might complicate your transactions and accounting. Kristen Gramigna, CMO at BluePay, recommends brands get a feel for their customers and those customers’ buying preferences to choose the most appropriate payment options.
Consider your customers’ age demographics, industries and native currencies when thinking about payment options. This will help you narrow in on what payment system will work best for your brand. If your business model is built on subscriptions, the payment system used by the eCommerce platform will also need to support this.
2. Integration With Your Other Tools
Most brands already have several stacks of tools to support different aspects of their business. You don’t want to have to upgrade your CRM or your ERP just to support eCommerce replatforming.
George Anderson, Communications Manager at Corevist Inc., emphasizes how an eCommerce platform involves all silos of a company. Integration is not simply an IT task. It takes coordination from marketing, sales, customer support, finance and everyone in between to execute the digital transformation of a company.
Many eCommerce solutions offer native ERP, finance and accounting, content management, inventory and analytics. As an organization, you will have to determine whether you want all of your teams to migrate your tools and data over to an all-in-one solution or if teams would prefer to integrate their familiar systems with the new platform.
Ilmie Sham Ku, Content Marketing Coordinator at Blue Link Associates, underscores how integrating your ERP with your eCommerce platform is necessary for the omnichannel experience because that integration unifies all sales channels and inventory through the buyer journey. This is necessary when almost three-quarters of shoppers use more than one channel when making a purchase.
Integrating tools is especially important for businesses that offer both physical and online stores to keep inventory, sales, supply chain, risk management, analytics and accounting all in line.
Simply offering integrations isn’t enough, though. The solutions provider must offer integration support, as well. Case in point: Edward Upton, Founder of Littledata, writes that Google Analytics is a critical tool to pair with eCommerce platforms, but so many eCommerce sites fail to set this tool up properly. Companies lose serious money when the integration doesn’t push the right information at the right time. When looking for a platform, make sure they have an excellent support team who can help you with your integrations.
3. Mobile Integration
Jordan McKee, Research Director at 451 Research, predicts that the number of mobile purchases will surpass desktop purchases for the first time globally this year. This presents a challenge to eCommerce sites that aren’t optimized for mobile. “While clunky eCommerce experiences can be tolerated to some extent, consumer tolerance for friction on mobile is significantly lower due to the small screen size,” McKee writes.
Whether your brand is already up and running on an eCommerce platform or you are just getting started, mobile friendliness is a key feature you need to prioritize as consumers become more inclined to make purchases on their mobile devices.
Kevin Richards, Founder and CEO of Ventura Web Design and Marketing, says that it’s not just about accessibility. Mobile sites are optimized on Google to appear higher on search results. If you want your site to be found by Google — which you do — then your site needs to be mobile-friendly. That means images and videos load properly, pages load quickly, there aren’t annoying pop-ups and the shopping experience is frictionless.
4. Content Management Capabilities That Will Scale With Your Business
Growing brands need to take advantage of the advanced AI tools that are automating content management processes. These bring multiple applications together and enhance a brand’s personalization efforts.
Don Fluckinger at TechTarget writes that we will see more businesses using tools that make content management platforms more adaptable to the high-level personalization that eCommerce requires today. For web content management, Fluckinger writes that good content management systems offer capabilities for content personalization, including “the locating, rendering and serving of content relevant to individual … customers, taking into account what device they’re using.”
eCommerce platforms need to be able to not just deliver product descriptions, landing pages and blogs. They also need to be able to personalize which content is delivered to customers.
Content and product pages should be intricately connected to encourage buyers on their journeys. When looking at products, buyers should also see content that could encourage cross-sells or up-sells. When visitors are reading blog posts, they should be able to see relevant products to encourage product exploration.
Content, then, should be dynamic, not static. “Customers should be able to explore the site, leave feedback on the articles, rate and buy products and ask questions,” says Ivo Lukač, Co-founder and Board Member at Netgen.
5. Customer Success Pitched as Team-as-a-Service
Jeff Rajeck, Researcher and Consultant for Econsultancy, highlights all the struggles eCommerce brands face despite the booming market growth. He writes that many consumers have inflated expectations about eCommerce stores because those consumers are so accustomed to shopping on giant platforms such as Amazon or TripAdvisor.
As competition intensifies, and as your own eCommerce brand scales into the hundreds of SKUs or multiples of your past revenue, managing a high-powered eCommerce channel becomes increasingly difficult.
That’s why you don’t want to run an eCommerce business all on your own. At some stage of growth, your brand will need support and expert insight. The best eCommerce platforms are complete with customer success teams that will partner with your company. These teams will walk you through how to best use the platform.
This team-as-a-service approach can help you keep up with eCommerce trends, strategies and the inner workings of the platform itself. You know your market. You just might need an eCommerce platform whose team knows eCommerce. By partnering, you can focus on your customers, and the platform’s team can give you the tools you need to do that well.
Supporting Your Business and Your Customers
Choosing a new eCommerce solution doesn’t have to be daunting. It is an opportunity to grow your business and reach new consumers.
These five features are just the starting point for what a quality eCommerce solution offers. When moving forward, consider how an eCommerce solution will support you with your goals, streamline your processes and improve your customers’ shopping experiences.