Technical considerations before purchasing a commerce platform

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Choosing a commerce platform is one of the most crucial and important decisions you’ll make in the early life of your business. There are a number of factors to consider before purchasing a commerce platform – in fact, the choices are endless. But what’s really important? Here are some of the key considerations.

The product catalogue

Your product catalogue is technically a reservoir for every item you sell. Its role is to promote the items you want to push and simultaneously help your customers find the items they are looking for with ease.

A poorly constructed product catalogue can be rigid and uncompromising, especially if the product attributes you want to store don’t naturally align with the definitions set in your commerce application.

Some commerce platforms charge based on the number of products on your platform. Depending on the requirements of the ecommerce marketplace, you can choose accordingly.

In the case of a multivendor ecommerce marketplace, the product list can easily grow to more than 10,000. It is therefore important to choose an ecommerce platform that doesn’t put a limitation on the number of products a marketplace can have.

The good news is that there are a number of product catalogue software that offer user-friendly tools and outstanding features to provide high-level functionality to entice your customers. Volusion, Big Commerce, Shopio and Shopify are a small selection of the platforms that offer a comprehensive solution, while keeping all aspects of your website up-to-date.

Identifying how you intend to organize your catalogue will have a dramatic impact on how your ecommerce website is developed – and on how well it converts visitors to customers.

Content

Products are extremely important with regard to how successful your online store can be. When you have a quality product with a customer demand, the content you include on your website and your interaction with customers will play a huge role in your success.

According to Rapt Media, 63% of customers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant.

Product photos and descriptions ought to be well written and highly informative; consumers won’t buy something that they cannot clearly see or understand. This is Sales 101 and something that everyone should be aware of when it comes to content on your website.

Taking your content further can really help your business to grow. Consider including a blog page on your online store with posts relating to the niche or industry in which you are selling. This shows customers that you’re an expert on the topic and invested in what you are selling, thereby building trust.

Do you have video or visual presentations as content? Webinars as a sales tool is another alternative. An example of a niche ecommerce solution that specializes in sites for online course merchants is Kajabi. This provides users with email funnel templates and one-click upsells, allowing you to generate sales/leads with one button.

Furthermore, the inclusive nature can encourage loyalty from consumers – and repeat purchases.

Consider a platform that allows customers to leave comments, ask questions and review your products online. In addition, ensure they can share via social media as 71% of consumers who have had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others –essentially creating free advertising for your store.

If you decide to use this, then ensure you respond to every question or comment. This will help build lasting relationships with your customers and help grow your brand exponentially.

Scalability

When choosing a platform for your business, it is crucial to check its scope for scalability. This ensures that the platform will grow alongside you.

Choose an ecommerce platform that not only works best for your platform today, but one that will support your business as it grows. As your platform experiences increasing traffic, it is imperative to ensure your platform can handle your peak traffic, maximum orders and page visits without speed reduction.

Will the site perform efficiently through traffic peaks and troughs? Slow internal applications are annoying, but unresponsive customer-facing applications will frustrate your customers, drive them to your competitors, and prove detrimental to your business.

An ecommerce platform is only measurable against the way it can handle its peak traffic. As your website popularity increases, it needs to scale with minimal effort so you can avoid incurring disproportionate infrastructure management costs.

Choose a platform that you can scale to your business size and that won’t charge outrageous fees for doing so. As a result, you won’t have to pay for features and storage that you’re not using when you first start out. You also want to keep up with higher demands as your business takes off.

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Mobile ready

Mobile phone usage is now at an all-time high. Statista believes that in 2017, mobile accounted for 50.3% of all web traffic generated worldwide. With these numbers quickly increasing, retailers should endeavor to create an effective mobile strategy that will reach the masses and convert the clicks into dollars.

Having a user-friendly, fast and easy to navigate mobile site will instantly keep your customer interested, which will directly affect your retention rate. With this in mind, users are significantly affected by a slow site performance; only 2% of the top 100 ecommerce sites load in fewer than 4 seconds on smartphones.

Ensure that your platform is fully integrated and has an infrastructure that enables you to deploy a mobile-ready site, along with social sharing capabilities to maximize the reach of your business.

Having a platform with reliable payment gateways instantly makes your online store functional and profitable. The mode of payment acceptance should be in accordance with the operations of your business. Regardless of whether you require a payment gateway and merchant account – or a payment service provider to handle your payments – your platform should integrate with the payment method.

Whichever experience the commerce platform offers, it should be smooth, reliable and secure to boost customer trust and retention in your site. The ecommerce platform you select should be compatible with the payment gateway of your online store, or it may result in a technical glitch or unacceptability. PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments are just some of the best payment gateway platforms that make payments for online transactions easy.

Online shoppers are not just looking at the product and price; they expect a seamless experience on the platform while making any purchase.

Reports and analytics

Ecommerce platforms house an abundance of information about your customers, their behaviors and preferences. However, businesses tend to find it hard to figure out how to leverage the business value this data holds.

The platform you choose should come with a variety of features to assist marketers, with the most important tool being powerful analytics and a report generation system. Marketers rely on analytical information driven by ecommerce – specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to stay informed regarding sales, strategy and methods to improve sales or traffic.

Payment gateways

Reporting and analytics deliver insights that act as a catalyst in your routine decision making. Popular commerce platforms like Magento will not only help you with marketing automation, but will also provide out-of-the-box integrations with Google Analytics (GA). GA commerce tracking is a powerful engine for ecommerce sites delivering information including transactions, time to purchase and typical sales cycle.

You should choose a commerce platform that allows you to track the activities of visitors, know where a visitor lost interest while checking out, and conduct tests using two different inputs to improve services.

Taking these points into consideration will help you make an informed decision when purchasing a commerce platform. After careful consideration, you’ll be well on your way to opening an online store and joining the wonderful world of ecommerce.

 

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

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