This article was updated in March 2023 to reflect new trends, statistics, and current information.
Delving into the e-commerce world is an exciting adventure albeit somewhat daunting. You need a ‘shopfront’ – somewhere you can show off your wares to customers.
Here we review some points to consider when choosing your cloud-based e-commerce software.
The 7 Ps of ecommerce software
The price of the product you are signing up for is obviously extremely important, especially for a small business. Most cloud-software based platforms have subscription plans where you pick the plan that suits your business size, price point and requirements.
But look out for hidden fees associated with getting a website online such as processing and hosting. Ensure that you are aware of the full price of the entire package and the frequency of the payments so that no surprises come your way.
Do not be tempted to sacrifice options you really need for a cheaper price as your online platform holds the same significance as a brick-and-mortar store and so you need to ensure it is as professional, welcoming and functioning and something you are proud of.
Plugins are essentially your tools for business so it is advisable to consider carefully what you already use and what you like about other e-commerce sites.
These plugins do a lot to facilitate the ease-of-use of your site which will make your life simpler and your customers will also appreciate it.
Some areas where plugins can be considered are:
- Loyalty program
3. Primed words
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital part of writing copy for websites. This aims to get a website ranking highly in a search engine based on the word choices in its text.
An e-commerce site should certainly be using SEO where possible, especially as you try to build your customer base and tempt them from the competition. One feature that could boost your website visibility is incorporating a blog.
Mobile purchases, where consumers buy goods directly from their smart phone, is on the rise. The majority of internet searches are reportedly done through a mobile platform with many of these searches resulting in a sale from the same mobile device.
This means that there is a massive audience out there to appeal to if your website is phone-friendly. An e-commerce website should have a compatible mobile website in order to capture the digitally savvy audience.
As with any successful business, an e-commerce venture needs to remain focused on people, your customers and your staff.
E-commerce, due to its accessibility, never closes its doors for the night while everyone gets a well-earned rest; it is perpetual. Therefore, ensure that you build down time into your schedule and those of your staff so that everyone can still operate at full capacity.
Your business also must remain focused on your customers. In e-commerce, this equates to answering queries in a prompt and friendly manner, ensuring inventory stock is always available so that orders can be efficiently dispatched and if things go wrong, you take it seriously and try to solve their dilemma for them.
Customer service goes a long way to building brand loyalty.
This is a vital component to your e-commerce site, both for your company and your customers. Your customers need their payment details kept safe if they are going to trust you and then purchase from you.
Therefore, ensure which ever platform you choose is compliant and preferably supports HTTPS/SSL. Most cloud-based softwares have strong encryption to avoid data leaks but it always pays to check!
Finally, although it is important to ensure you are not paying for unnecessary fees in the beginning, it is also important that you dream of being profitable and seeing growth in your business.
When you are choosing your platform, ensure you find one that does not charge you for unnecessary extras when you are starting out, but can support and grow with you as you become more profitable and expand your reach.
4 tips for choosing the right ecommerce software
Selecting best-in-class e-commerce software for your business can be a daunting task.
There are many factors to be considered, such as pricing, plugin support, SEO capability, mobile suitability and customer support. Here are four top tips to help you evaluate your options.
1. List out business requirements
As tempting as it is to begin searching immediately between existing e-commerce software, it is vital to first stop and think about your specific requirements – what are you looking to get out of your e-commerce software?
This will vary between each business. Business size, target market and price are some of the important things to consider that are relevant for most businesses.
There are also business-specific requirements to consider. For example, do you want your e-commerce software to have online inventory management too or will you better manage it from a dedicated inventory management software like Unleashed?
Knowing what your business needs from an e-commerce platform is the first and arguably most important step.
A good idea is to compile a list of “musts” – these are the basic features you need to run your business. Another list to have is a “would be nice” – these are the features you think would be great to have but not necessary to running your business.
2. Consider your existing systems
Which systems and solutions are your business already using? Email marketing platforms, customer relationship management software, point-of-sale systems or online inventory management systems are just some of the examples to be considered.
Many e-commerce software packages will be able to integrate existing systems resulting in less work for you. For example, Unleashed Software integrates with other platforms like Xero for accounting, Shopify for point-of-sale, and many more.
Make a list of your existing platforms and plugins; that list will be invaluable when whittling a wide field down to a shortlist.
3. Is this solution scalable?
When deciding on an e-commerce software, it’s important to consider if your chosen software would be scalable as your business grows.
Changing software can be a lengthy and complex process, often taking at least one month; you do not want to be changing software every year or two! Small start-ups might not get much use out of the option to store 10,000 customer contact details.
On the flip side, an inventory management module that is limited to 100 products might not be particularly suitable for a large corporation.
Find a balance and a software that suits your budget and meets your requirements.
4. Customer service
Sometimes, your software might not act like it’s supposed to. If your e-commerce platform goes down, the worst thing you can do for your customers (and reputation) is to respond slowly.
IT support is often overlooked when comparing business software, but it is one of the most important things to consider as realistically, it is your brand image being damaged should things go wrong.
Key considerations include whether IT support is available 24/7, how many levels of support are available and how knowledgeable your provider’s in-house team is.
Choosing a software that provides great customer service at a reasonable price will be truly beneficial in the unfortunate circumstance that your website has crashed.