eCommerce has been an increasingly significant sales channel for quite a few years with big names such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba and such defining the space, but never has it been as important as during the pandemic era. The ongoing global health crisis has accelerated the shift to eCommerce, for almost all forms and sizes of businesses, both B2C and B2B. The US, alone, saw a 5x surge in online grocery buying, delivery and pickup last year. In fact, recent research shows that the global eCommerce market size was valued at $9.09 trillion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.7% from 2020 to 2027.
What makes a good eCommerce platform?
A good eCommerce platform is one that engages customers to make repeat purchases, with critical elements that include an attractive user interface, ease of operations, secure back end and the ability to scale with business cycles. Let’s look at some of the key determinants of a suitable eCommerce platform in depth:
- User interface and store functionality: One of the key factors that comes into play in being a good eCommerce channel is the ease of use and convenience offered to the customers – beginning with having a simple yet elegant design, to the users’ ability to surf through various categories, filters, reviews, and comparisons, to the availability of various payment options. Online customers tend to have a short attention span, and, therefore, the ability for them to be able to find what they are looking for and to effectively make a purchase is crucial to bring in revenues. Effective visual navigations, better search functionality with autocomplete options, customer reviews for validation, an error free experience etc. are some of the ways in which to enhance the consumer experience.
- Platform pricing: There is a whole host of eCommerce solutions service providers in the market, offering different platforms with different features that are available at varying prices. So while some platforms may offer one low flat rate, without any charging any additional transaction fees, some may have a base rate, charge per transaction, and then need subscriptions for using apps that can help optimize the company’s website. What is imperative is to evaluate the different rates based on the company’s needs and accordingly determine which platform works out the best in terms of pricing and costs. Moreover, one must weigh in the additional facilities like logistics or marketing support that are being offered by different platforms and benchmark them against the cost.
- Consumer data privacy and security: Data privacy and security play a vital role in ensuring that the consumers’ information (B2B & B2C)remains protected at all times. Therefore, before choosing an eCommerce platform, one must know what certifications and encryptions the platform offers, including the PCI compliance, SSL, fraud prevention, and secure data backups. The website must have the requisite checks in place to protect against data theft and hacking.
- Headless commerce support services: Today, consumers use a wide variety of digital touchpoints, such as smart wearables to voice-assisted devices, and progressive web apps, amongst others, to consume content and shop. This has made necessary for businesses to stay on point and deliver a seamless shopping experience across multiple devices. Simply put, headless commerce decouples the front-end user experience from the back-end eCommerce functionality. By passing information between the two layers through application programming interface (API) calls, software developers can build fast, dynamic, and personalized user experience.
- Speed and scalability: Delivering fast and satisfying user experience is one of the vital building blocks of an effective eCommerce platform. Therefore, how fast can you scale your platform vertically and horizontally or whether you can make updates with least performance disruptions or timeouts or what is the customer load the platform can take during peak periods are some of the determining factors while selecting a platform.
- Ease of implementation and ongoing management: With online business having gained much traction during the pandemic and the trend is expected to continue beyond COVID-19, businesses looking to add eCommerce as a sales channel, or to upgrade their existing solution, are looking at platforms that offer the shortest possible time to market. Thus, the company needs to assess whether it wants to go in for a out-of-the-box-solution provided by an expert eCommerce vendor or choose a highly-customized platform that has to be designed by a relatively less experienced solution provider.
While there are many other factors, these six play a crucial role in helping an organization’s decision-makers shortlist the most suitable platform for their needs.
Most companies prefer going with the most popular platform or the one that offers the maximum features; however, the ultimate decision depends upon your business objectives and your customer needs. Therefore, in order to make that right choice, it is imperative to collaborate with technology service providers such as Saberpoint to help you not only make a decision on the best possible eCommerce solution, and but also help you build and implement an eCommerce strategy necessary for your present and future success.