eCommerce

5 Essential Features Brands Should Expect From eCommerce Partners

Very few eCommerce stores — if any — go it alone. A network of partners offering business-as-service solutions is essential to the running of even the biggest retailers. When you have a partner that takes care of shipping or warehousing or accounting, it lets you and your team focus on the things that matter most. But not all BaaS eCommerce partners are created equal. Some won’t integrate into your system. Others won’t be able to provide the consulting expertise you need. Whether you are just getting your brand online or you already have an established eCommerce store, here are five essential features you should look for in your next BaaS provider.

1. Careful Consideration for eCommerce Security

Security is a big priority for eCommerce consumers. It should be an equally big priority for brands — especially because the success of your business can hinge upon how secure your site is. 

If you fail to adequately protect your customers, you’ll lose their trust, writes Cloudway’s Saud Razzak. Your brand’s reputation will also be in tatters. Both can be hard to win back, especially if you’re a small brand just getting started.  

It’s important to assess the level of security offered by any platform you partner with. Protection levels differ between eCommerce platforms, writes EmailAnalytics Founder and CEO Jayson DeMers. “Some offer dedicated servers with robust capacity, so you’ll be better protected against threats like DDoS attacks,” he explains. “Some are simply better made than others, offering fewer potential vulnerabilities to exploit and issuing patches more regularly.”

Even the most secure software solutions need to be regularly updated to remain safe. Outdated patches contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, says digital marketer Megha Parikh. In fact, hackers actively scan the web looking for websites with such vulnerabilities. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that your software provider releases regular security updates. 

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2. Integration With Your eCommerce Solution

Whether you choose an open-source or full-service solution, it’s important that your partners are able to integrate seamlessly. We would emphasize the use of APIs to do so. 

Firstly, APIs are a key component of headless commerce — an eCommerce solution brands may want to use if they already have a CMS system in place. It’s much easier for established websites to transition to selling online using headless commerce, explains Satish Chavan, President of digital technology innovation partner e-Zest Solutions. Rather than build an entire website, you simply create a storefront and attach it to your existing CMS through APIs. 

Further, basing your eCommerce architecture around APIs will reap rewards in the long run. Such a system will help you stay ahead of competitors, writes Plytix’s Tina Eaton and Morten Poulsen. When everything is decoupled, you’re able to swiftly adopt new technologies into your eCommerce architecture.

You’ll also be able to tailor BaaS solutions to your specific needs. This is something software providers will never be able to accomplish, writes Daniel Elizalde, Vice President, Head of IoT for North America, at Ericsson. 

Connecting through APIs eliminates some of the security issues mentioned above. There’s no need to update software or plugins when everything is connected via API. Updates happen automatically. Even businesses that handle the physical aspects of your operation, like warehousing and logistics, should offer API integration to improve the customer experience. 

3. Modular Access and Scalability

When you’re just starting out, there are going to be a lot of BaaS features you just don’t need. BaaS partners should appreciate that brands won’t need every feature straight away — and some might never need them. 

Pricing should reflect this. A tiered or a la carte solution will mean you only pay for what you need. This approach makes getting started easier, and significantly more affordable. 

At the same time, consider how you are paying for the software and service, advises Studio 15 CEO Jia Wertz. Is it a flat fee or will you pay more depending on usage? “All of these costs need to be considered in your decision, to ensure they fit well within your business model and existing cash flow,” she says.

While you don’t want to be overwhelmed at the start of your eCommerce journey, you also want to know that when things do kick off, your BaaS partner is equipped to handle the extra volume.

In other words, they should be able to scale alongside your business. You’ll never know for sure how big your brand will grow, but it’s best to be prepared, according to the team at eCommerce CRM platform Drip. Look for one that supports your needs now and has the potential to meet them in the future. “You’d rather have the wiggle room to grow and expand than to be limited by an eCommerce platform that can’t keep up with your booming business.”

That spike in traffic may come sooner than you think. Take Black Friday for example, writes software engineer Allan MacGregor. How well will your BaaS partner be able to respond to a spike in traffic from shopping holidays? 

Changing partners can be a headache. While it might be necessary in some scenarios, especially if you take your business in a different direction, every effort should be made to avoid it where possible at the start of the journey. 

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4. Hands-On Expertise and Consulting

Technical support alone is not enough for most businesses. Expert consultancy services are what separates BaaS providers from SaaS companies, and it’s where the real value is delivered. 

Choosing the right partner is as important as getting the right software, writes Amanda Mulquiney-Birbeck at Maginus Software. “The key decision is finding a partner with whom you feel you can develop a close working relationship over the many years to come,” she says. “Getting this right will have an impact on whether your eCommerce site is a success or, indeed, a failure.”

It’s important to find a company that remains engaged throughout your working relationship, writes HyperOffice’s Rusty Weston and Shahab Kaviani. It’s not enough to provide software or solutions; they should also help define your business’ problems, train your staff and deal with any ongoing issues. 

At the end of the day, you’re partnering with a BaaS provider in order to take work off your plate. There’s no point choosing a company that isn’t going to roll up their sleeves and get to work alongside your team.

5. Ongoing Technical Support

Outside of consulting work, you’ll also want to make sure your BaaS partner is available to help with any technical issues that arise with software. Again, this isn’t your area of expertise, nor should it be. When something goes wrong, your partner needs to step in and solve it.

It’s important to choose an eCommerce partner with strong ongoing support, writes MK Getler, Director of Customer Marketing at B2B gifting platform Alyce. There’s no one better than in-house experts and programmers to answer your questions and fix your problems. 

Test support in the trial period, suggests digital marketing services provider Maddy Osman. See how many channels are open to you and how easy it is to speak to someone technical. “If support is not included in your package, check what the additional costs will be to get the service, as it is sometimes considered an add-on available for an additional monthly fee only,” she writes.

Bonus: An All-In-One Solution

Ideally, you won’t have to juggle between different vendors, plug-ins or software platforms to get the perfect solution. Everything your store needs to grow would be delivered by a single provider with a team of experts all working under one roof. 

Luckily, that kind of solution is readily available to eCommerce brands. Right now, it’s more available than ever. In just 15 days, you can get your entire store online using our cloud commerce infrastructure delivered at cost. By offering all of these essential features, we aim to beat even the highest expectations.  

Images by: Jud Mackrill, Austin Distel, Tim van der Kuip