Thursday, May 28, 2015Global Administrator If you polled a group of consumers, what percentage would you assume had purchased something online in their lifetime?

To give you an idea, eCommerce sales are said to hit 414 billion worldwide by 2018! (Baynote)

It’s clear that online shopping isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s probably becoming more common among consumers. It’s crucial for companies to stay current with a quality eCommerce website; because, let’s face it, that’s what your customers are going to want and expect from a brand.

Helping to drive this growth has been an evolution within the world of eCommerce platforms. With so many options now available, all offering extensive features and benefits how does a company (big or small) decide on what platform is best for them?

We present to you, the recipe for finding the best e-commerce platform for your company.

Prep Time: 3-4 weeks of weighing your options

Yields: A positive customer experience and higher profit margin

3 cups – Cost efficiency

Whether you are a large scale company or a small one man operation, cost is always a critical factor. That is why this is the foundation of our recipe. Start by calculating your budget and decide on your must-have features. This will help you determine if you’re looking at an enterprise solution, or something a bit smaller; such as an entry level or open source option.

2 cups – Security

This one is self-explanatory and, let’s face it, common sense. Most platforms will be built with security as a critical component. This is very important for merchants, since you will be dealing with credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and other sensitive information.

Although every platform come with some security features built-in, it’s still smart to do your research and compare your options. This ingredient is vital to your recipe!

1/2 cup – Quality Design Options

Your website is the front door to your business, so it’s no surprise that you’ve spent time designing it and branding it just right for you and your customers. So why wouldn’t you want to have an eCommerce platform that can follow the same design and branding principles?

You want to ensure that the platform you choose allows you or a designer to style it to match your branding guidelines and vision. If there is are major difference between your corporate site and online store, it may feel like two different websites. This can cause a negative user experience and a high bounce rate.

1/4 cup – Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile devices are being used more and more for web browsing and online shopping. In fact, 75% of consumers use their mobile device while shopping in store (Internet Retailer). Furthermore, 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones for all their shopping needs   (Convince and Convert). So why would you ever consider a platform that doesn’t allow for responsive design?

2 tablespoons – Support

Ever heard the phrase “Up the creek without a paddle”?

We’ve all been there, and no one likes it. That is why support is a small but still an important ingredient to your recipe. Better support usually comes at a higher monetary cost, but consider the high cost of losing a customer. When you don’t receive support on a technical problem with your platform, the customer will suffer. Make sure you are able to contact them and receive appropriate support in the case of an emergency.

3 teaspoons – Usability

There are two parts here:

Front end: You ultimately want a platform that allows your customer to use it with ease; where they don’t need to contact you for help when they need to make a purchase. Front end usability is important to maintain a positive user experience.

Back end: You will need to maintain and update your platform regularly, so ensure that you don’t need an expert in-house (or have the budget to hire someone) to make regular changes. Cataloging, categorization, and price management should all be easy for you to manage.

1 teaspoon – SEO Features

Being searchable is crucial to your business. Look at whether the platform has any attributes that contribute to good SEO for your online store.

1 cup – Integration

Like any other business out there, you are most likely using a number of different systems or applications to run your operations efficiently. It’s vital that the eCommerce platform you choose allows for easy integration with the other systems important to you, such as your accounting package, shipping solution, marketing applications, etc.

Throw in little pinch of analytics at the end.

A quality analytics tool is a huge bonus for an eCommerce platform. Reporting is crucial for business, and helps you understand what’s working and what’s not. By adding this ingredient to the recipe, it can help provide that critical information you need to make the right decisions moving forward.
And there you have it folks!

This recipe should help you find you a quality eCommerce platform that is the right fit for your company. Happy selling!

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