Choosing the best eCommerce platform can be challenging when there are tons of choices available.
While the ultimate goal of having an eCommerce website is to sell more products online, there is a lot more involved to get a highly optimised eCommerce website design which can perform well and can be maintained easily to adapt to any changes.
We have tried to answer this question in the best possible way. Share your thoughts in the comment below.
Ecommerce platform or electric commerce is defined as a software application that facilitates and simplifies the buying and selling of goods and services online.
It consists of features that enable businesses and retailers to operate and control their websites, manage marketing activities and level up their sales without any hassle.
With growing times, the usage of eCommerce platforms has been increasing rapidly due to a feasibly efficient management system. So if you want to expand your retail business-reach online, then you should definitely invest in a suitable eCommerce platform.
Understanding your Needs
Understanding your business needs and goals is very important while choosing the right eCommerce platform. You need to have a clear idea of the scale of your business, the number of products you will sell, what you would incorporate in your website design.
Often business owner selects a much-advanced platform for simple eCommerce business process which increases the cost and management becomes difficult.
For example: If you just sell a few products, the complex systems like Magento or BigCommerce may not be suitable. You can opt for simpler platforms like Wix or Squarespace or WordPress (best for bloggers).
Without a proper layout of your business goals and budget, you may end up losing a great deal of money on unnecessary stuff that does not actually benefit your business.
Get help from a website design consultant to find the right platform for your business.
SEO consideration with eCommerce platform selection
When it comes to choosing the right eCommerce platform, it is highly essential to look out for platforms that have a solid foundation for SEO and all needed tools to make the job easy.
With a poorly designed eCommerce website, you may struggle to rank higher in Google, and hence all your efforts to improve your sales will ultimately go to waste.
Some eCommerce platforms are very good with on-site SEO from the get-go whereas others come with tonnes of issues which require to be addressed right at the start. Learn more in our eCommerce SEO checklist page.
If your SEO needs are paramount, then you may consider a custom or WordPress solution. But before taking up an eCommerce platform, it is highly recommended to discuss your SEO requirements with an eCommerce SEO consultant.
Some of the primary and must have SEO features that you must look out for while choosing an eCommerce platform:
The platform must render fast website loading speed. Usually, the ideal website loading speed is considered to be at most 3 to 5 seconds.
It must enable mobile optimisation for your website.
If you run a small business, then you must consider the above basic SEO features. But for a larger business to function well, you got to consider far more advanced and comprehensive eCommerce SEO solutions for different platforms like Shopify, WordPress, etc.
eCommerce Design & Development Cost
The design and development cost that you may encounter is one of the most important things to consider before you invest in any eCommerce platform. It is directly proportional to what custom features you require, your traffic, marketing and sales goals, the scale of your business, etc. Learn more about eCommerce website design cost in Australia.
There are many inbuilt eCommerce platforms out there like Squarespace, Shopify etc. with lots of required features already. Most of them come with a monthly to a yearly subscription plan which can vary among different price ranges. Also, they have a good number of templates and themes as well as other third-party integrations (basic to advanced) both paid and free.
In case businesses want to integrate custom features to their website design, the pricing will vary depending on how basic or advanced the particular feature is. Moreover, if you want to have a completely customised website, then the pricing will be much higher.
While third-party hosted solutions like Shopify may be easier to implement but migrating to own hosted solution may be very challenging with the potential of losing ranking and hence you must plan well, know the cost and take the right decision.
For a small business with a few pages, it is an easy task. But for medium to large businesses with a good deal of website pages that can be time-consuming and difficult. So it is essential to seek guidance from an experienced professional.
Some other factors that help in determining the pricing include domain name registration, website hosting, periodic update and upgrade etc.
Note: The cost can significantly increase with third-party integration like linking accounting or ERP system.
eCommerce Website Maintenance
Technology changes very fast and you must consider long term website maintenance, upgrade in mind.
The main point of having an eCommerce website is to make great online sales. So maintaining your eCommerce website is highly essential to prevent the loss of sales revenue.
Some of the important things that you must always consider while website maintenance are:
Page load speed: Keeping your website updated regularly would always prevent it from slowing down as the process may involve code cleaning and optimisation.
Website security: Keeping a check on website security and updating it regularly would help it get stronger and prevent hackers from causing any damage. Conduct a regular test on the website for SQL injection, malware etc. using different website testing tools.
User engagement: Regular maintenance would prevent glitches that could cause customer dissatisfaction and as such reduce card abandonment.
Performing regular checkup on website navigation and updating it with necessary features to simplify and improve the checkout to transaction process would leverage user engagement to a great extent.
Ease to Adapt with Changes
Due to the growing changes in the eCommerce industry, it is critical to invest in an eCommerce platform that can easily and rapidly adapt to any changes.
The changes may be required due to creative planning and taking insights into actionable items which can trigger small to a big change in the system.
It is important to note, not all the platforms provide the ease of adaptability especially the older ones. With older ones, it is often difficult to process updates and website maintenance. And that can lead to many unsolvable technical issues and customer dissatisfaction.
Some businesses require more frequent changes, whereas others may need less, and having a system with easy to implement changes is very important when you evolve.
So it’s recommended to look up into microservices eCommerce platforms for a better experience.
Another important thing to consider when you choose an eCommerce platform is the availability of efficient third party integrations and plugins. Proper administration of third party integration is directly proportional to the revenue generated.
Most of the platforms already have plenty of tools and plugins that you can easily integrate to your eCommerce just at one click. But it is necessary to strategically choose the tools according to your business goals to prevent any extra costs.
Some of the primary integrations that you should look out for are-
Accounting System: Such plugins help you to leverage and keep an account of the sales, revenue, profit and loss and tax management of the eCommerce system. Some of the popular solutions are XERO, MYOB and more.
ERP System Integration: Integrating ERP software is highly beneficial as it helps reduce the extra costs of managing the inventory.
Email Marketing Software: Email marketing is a crucial element of digital marketing. Using tools for email marketing would not only help you segment your customers based on different aspects but send more personalised messages. Mail Chimp is one of the most EDM software available in the market.
The security of an eCommerce website must be considered to its highest level. In recent times the attacks against eCommerce sites have increased rapidly.
Some of the potential security threats that you are at a high risk to encounter are:
Malware or ransomware where attackers set up a malware software to block you out of your own site and prevent access to all the data and information.
SQL injection where attackers set up tools at your SQL database to have access to all the private information and perform illegal tasks that are out of your knowledge,
Phishing where potential attackers sneak into your personal and private data through emails, phone calls, text, etc.
So it is critical to have a strong security system for your website to prevent any such issues.
One of the basic steps is to set up a strong and unique password (using a password manager can be helpful) for yourself as well as your customers. That is one of the most beneficial yet overlooked steps to prevent security threats.
You must have SSL and increased level of security based on the transaction rate and the amount.
On top that regular website maintenance and updates are highly essential to prevent you from any security threats.
Common eCommerce Platforms Pros and Cons
It is an open-source platform meaning you can modify and customise the original source code as per your needs.
It is highly suited for large scale eCommerce implementation.
It has a wide range of third party plugins and tools to embed into your website and manage and boost sales and revenue.
It is scalable, i.e., it provides you room for effectual management of the increased number of products along with the growth in your business.
Magento falls more on the expensive side compared to other eCommerce platforms.
It is more resource-intense platform and often shared hosting is not enough and hence you may need a higher level of hosting infrastructure.
It is a third-party hosted paid solution, you can expect better customer service and faster response to your queries.
It has an abundance of stylish and customisable templates.
You can implement your store with speed with as you can get most of your required tools easily.
Shopify has a monthly subscription plan along with a group of paid themes and templates.
Migrating to an own hosted solution can be challening, and you may lose your SEO ranking while doing so.
Whether you are starting from scratch or transferring from another platform BigCommerce provides you with easy to build a customisable and functional website that is not only attractive but speaks your business language.
It plays a huge role in building an SEO friendly website. It has a large number of SEO tools and features that help you make the optimisation process faster and simpler.
You get the ability to create any number of staff accounts possible.
You need to buy a more expensive plan in BigCommerce if you happen to cross the annual sales threshold as per the existing plan that you are using.
It has a limited number of free themes.
The marketplace has fewer number of apps and plugins as compared to other platforms.
It is a cost-effective solution for many businesses due to cheaper design and development costs.
WordPress has a plethora of easy to download free to paid themes with stylish to responsive design that can be easily accessed from its library and customised as per your brand persona.
It has a good URL structure and basic SEO issues are managed well.
It is one of the most used website building platforms in the world, It is not designed for eCommerce by default but there are tons of plugins available to build eCommerce features.
It may not be suitable for high scale eCommerce implementation.
You would need to update the CMS regularly to keep it safe.
You also need to check plugins compatibility with the upgrade to avoid any functionality breakdown.
It is suitable for those who are just starting out with few products.
Not suitable for any serious eCommerce implementation.