The process of building an eCommerce business goes beyond publishing a list of the products that you are selling on the website. This process is more complicated than you could be imagining.
Just like running a production facility or physical retail store, you need the same level of strategic planning and thinking to build and run an eCommerce business. When choosing an eCommerce platform, you need to put a few things into consideration.
The first one is the speed at which your business can grow. The next one is the running costs that entail building the eCommerce platform, maintaining it, and the ongoing development costs.
Next, look at your customer engagement, i.e., how you control your customers' interaction with your brand. The last thing is your objectives because, with the right eCommerce platform, you will deliver the desired service to your target audience. Let us not go deeper into the definition of an eCommerce platform.
What is an ECommerce Platform?
An eCommerce platform is essentially a software application that enables enterprises to execute complex functionalities, both back-end, and front-end. It comprises warehouse fulfillment, web design, mobile commerce, inventory management, and CRM. To take your business to the next level, you have to make sure you are getting the best eCommerce platform.
Before specializing in eCommerce solutions, businesses would build their own in-house platforms using their development and IT teams. This affair was costly and laborious for virtually all business managers.
The self-built platforms were normally hard to manipulate, unscalable, and could not integrate with the other software solutions that the business was using. The introduction of eCommerce solutions was the best way to overcome all these limitations.
Currently, tiny minority companies are using the build-your-own method. The market now has so many specialist solutions, including the free, open-source platforms where you pay someone to create as per your needs.
We also have proprietary software that a team of developers can customize. The next set of options are existing platforms like Walmart or Amazon, where you simply register to sell your products. Lastly, we have ready-made platforms such as Core DNA that are hosted in the cloud.
The Criteria we used to Choose the Best ECommerce Platform.
We have a dedicated team of professionals who test the various eCommerce platforms to establish the quality of services they offer. We analyze so many elements to narrow down to the best e-commerce platform in the market.
The main points that we consider include the performance, features, ease of use, support, and pricing of each platform. Our main objective is to help you make an educated decision during the first attempt.
You don’t want to waste your precious time and resources just to discover that you did not make the right choice. Here is an overview of how we analyze each of these options;
Performance: Performance is the defining element for the top eCommerce platforms. What we do is to establish the quality of service that the eCommerce platforms offer to your customers.
No one wants to visit an online store that takes decades to load. In such eventualities, you can be sure that you will increase your bounce rate to a big extend.
Features: The other defining element of the best ecommerce platform 2021 is the features that come with the tool. The features that come with eCommerce platforms vary, and you need to choose one depending on the kind of store you want to build. Therefore, you will not make the right decision unless you have the right knowledge of each of these features.
Ease of Use: The other critical element we use in analyzing eCommerce platforms is the ease of use. If you are new to these systems, you can be sure to recommend something that is beginner-friendly. It is not hard to navigate through the dashboard of the tools that we recommend for your use.
Support: The Level of support you get from the developer is the other defining element of the best eCommerce platform. That is why we pay close attention to this in our decision-making process. You fall into issues when using eCommerce websites, and you cannot figure out how to unlock the problem.
The 5 Best Ecommerce Platform for 2021
- Main Features
How to Choose the Best Ecommerce Platform for 2021
There are so many factors that you need to put into consideration when choosing an eCommerce platform. As we said earlier, there are so many products that fall under this category.
As a result, it can be quite confusing to make an informed decision. That is why you need to go the extra mile to research to make an informed decision.
The purpose of this guide is to make sure that you are making the right choice when it comes to getting an eCommerce platform. This section will highlight the factors that you need to consider in choosing the best eCommerce website. You will discover that it is not hard to make as long as you know what you are doing. Some of these things include;
1. Experience and Expertise of the Vendor
This is the top-most factor to consider when looking for the best open-source eCommerce platform. Ensure you confirm whether the vendor has the technical skill and experience to meet the complexities and needs of your requirements.
Remember, each eCommerce platform has specific needs, and you need a vendor who will meet them with the highest level of precision. You need a service provider who has both the experience and knowledge of working with your industry.
You don’t want a company that will be practicing the art with your website. Remember, there is no room to try and error when dealing with serious business. You should get it right from the onset, especially when it comes to the performance and features of the ecommerce platform. That is why you need a brand that knows what it is doing from the onset.
Take some time and research the various options that are in the market. You can look at various forums, customer reviews, and case studies to check whether the vendor has the right knowledge in web development. You will rarely go wrong if you choose an expert who has experience developing the best eCommerce platform for your industry.
When choosing an eCommerce platform, the other defining element is the level of support you get from the vendor. One thing I can guarantee you is that things can go wrong at some point. In case this happens, you need a vendor who will give you timely support in resolving the issue or problem.
Since you cannot judge a book by its cover, the best way to gather this information is through customer reviews. Get to understand the previous experiences of customers who have fallen in trouble with the website's use.
Did they get the support that they needed most from the company? An eCommerce platform that values its customers will always be there for them in the time of need.
It is good to choose a service that provides 24/7 emergency support to its client. Also, check whether you can contact them through multiple channels like by phone, webchat, and email, among others.
All these things have so much to speak about the reliability of the eCommerce platform. Support is very crucial even when looking for the best free ecommerce platform. You should not take anything for granted because things always go wrong at some point, even when dealing with the most robust systems in the market.
Scalability is the other defining factor when searching for the best eCommerce platforms in the market. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether the eCommerce platform will grow with your business. As you shop for the best ecommerce platform for startups, look for one that will serve you when your company grows.
It is better to move from one pricing plan to another within the same eCommerce platform rather than start with a new service provider altogether. That is why we say that the best eCommerce platform will be highly scalable. You need something that represents a central hub for your business.
If the platform you are using is hard to scale, it will hinder your business's growth. Therefore, you need to be extremely careful when making these important business decisions. Don’t leave anything to chances because it will come back to haunt you in the long run.
4. SEO Friendly
There is no way you will survive on the online platform without SEO. Even if you are shopping for the best ecommerce platform for small business, make sure you look for something that is SEO friendly. You need something that your visitors will enjoy using to convert them into active users.
The best eCommerce platform will always come with comprehensive SEO features. It will help your eCommerce store to rank highly in the search engine results. Isn’t this what anyone who owns an eCommerce store is looking for?
It is good to look for a platform that will drive traffic, retain the visitors on the website, and even convert. You need to put in mind a few things as you shop for an SEO friendly eCommerce platform. The first step would be to add a blog to your eCommerce store.
You also need to allow customers to leave reviews if you want to rank highly in the search engine results. Lastly, the best ecommerce platform should allow you to use your own domain. All these features will make sure that you are getting the best out of the eCommerce platform.
5. Mobile Friendliness
It is a Must to have a platform that is mobile-friendly all the time. One thing you need to remember is that most people are using their Smartphones and tablets to access the internet in the modern business world.
Therefore, you stand to lose a lot if the platform that you are using is not mobile-friendly. It is also a factor that contributes to the SEO success of your website. Therefore, there is no room for a bargain when analyzing this element. The best eCommerce platform will be mobile-friendly.
E-Commerce will be all about selling products online. As a result, you cannot compromise the security of your website. It is good to remember that customers will be trusting you with their sensitive information like credit card numbers.
What this means is that security should, in fact, come top on this list. We have so many scammers who are looking for opportunities to compromise the security of your website.
Since you are taking financial payments, put all the possible measures in place to secure your website. The best eCommerce platform should have all the required security protocols in place. Check what the provider offers to see whether it is a good option for you or not.
7. Customer Experience
The way you deliver customer experience will affect your initiative in eCommerce. The user experience that the eCommerce platform offers is among the primary determinants of customer experience. There are so many factors that come into play when looking at the user experience (UX).
An intuitive and user-friendly e-commerce platform will assist your team in achieving its objectives. The user experience of the best eCommerce platform will always reflect the needs of your company. Therefore, it is something that you will want to pay close attention to when making a decision.
Nowadays, in addition to user-friendliness, customer experience heavily depends on the eCommerce platform's adaptability and flexibility. We are so deep in the dispensation of IoT. Hence, we are witnessing uncountable numbers of disruptions in the form of smart wearables, smart refrigerators, voice assistant devices, and so on.
You need an eCommerce platform that will adapt to these innovations and changes readily. It should do so without causing any kind of headaches to your team.
The other critical element of user experience is personalization. The best eCommerce platform will integrate seamlessly with machine learning and artificial intelligence tools. It will help you understand your individual consumers' buying patterns and use this info in delivering personalized services to your customers.
8. Robust Catalog
The product catalog is a representation of the heart of the inventory. The best ecommerce platform should have a catalog that is intuitive and easy to update. More importantly, confirm whether the product catalog does meet your sector requirements.
For instance, if you are working in the clothing or fashion sector, the product catalog should have a feature that enables clients to choose their preferred product color or size.
The other example could be cross-linking between product pages and product bundles. You can offer your clients detailed product catalogs alongside powerful inventory management, product bundling, and product-cross linking.
9. Flexible Pricing
You will want to run discounts, sales, and promotions on your ecommerce store very easily. The other consideration here is the support for multiple currencies. You could also want to change various fees for different geographical locations.
Confirm whether the eCommerce platform will give you all these functionalities. You don’t want to think that you are getting the best ecommerce platform for small businesses, yet it will limit you in the long run.
10. Website Personalization
People who buy online nowadays look for a personalized experience. Thus, the best ecommerce platform 2021 should have a recommendation engine that can send personalized suggested items to the customers based on the products they have been searching for and previous purchases. It is a critical feature if you want to succeed in online selling.
11. Flexible Shipping
Recently, the demands for shipment have drastically changed. Customers want their products to be delivered on the same day or after one day. Make sure a decent logistics and distribution company supports the platform fully.
The best eCommerce platform will also allow for integration with fulfillment companies. It is a defining element of the best multi-channel eCommerce platform.
12. E-Commerce Analytics
There is a broad range of Ecommerce KPIs and metrics that you need to monitor, and an inbuilt analytics system is the best way to do that. If you go for the best eCommerce platform, you can be sure that it will have its own analytics platform.
For those who have not, if you want access to in-depth analytics, you should integrate or sync the data from the eCommerce platform with a secondary analytics platform.
13. Excellent Merchant Integration
Google Merchant enables businesses to maintain and upload product information to get displayed in the appropriate Google Shopping results. It will help you in driving more traffic to the product listing page. It is hugely beneficial to have this feature, especially if you wish to reach out beyond your website's boundaries.
14. Facebook Integration
Integrating with the Facebook business account will enable you to sync your products to Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook. After creating a catalog, you can utilize it for various business applications like displaying your products in the collection ad or tagging them on Instagram.
15. Customer Review System
The best ecommerce platform comes with an inbuilt customer review system. It can also have third-party integrations that support customer reviews and ratings. Such a platform will impact your rate of conversion significantly.
According to a study, this feature will increase customer trust by 72 percent. Besides, the millennials do trust user-generated content 50% more than all the other forms of media.
16. Automatic Account and Tax Calculation
For global eCommerce businesses, you need to meet various countries' tax requirements and in different currencies. The best b2b eCommerce platform should support the automatic calculation of tax. If you don’t do this, you can find yourself in a high-profile legal action.
17. Multiple Payment Gateways
This element is crucial, especially when looking for the best ecommerce platform for dropshipping. Some of the multiple payment options include having a debit card, credit card, direct bank transfers, PayPal.
When you have this in place, you can be sure of increasing your conversion rate. Besides, if your intent to grow your e-commerce platform internationally, you should use local payment gateways to earn your local markets' custom and trust.
18. Single Customer Review
With this feature in place, you will track your clients and their communication across each channel. It also allows you to see what they are purchasing.
19. Headless Commerce
Commerce sales are expected to increase both smart wearables and voice-assistant devices. The best e-commerce platform will allow you to deliver eCommerce activities to different touchpoints. The only way to do this is by using headless commerce.
When you follow this guide, you will analyze each element of the major eCommerce platforms. As a result, you will avoid the mistakes that most companies make when choosing an eCommerce platform. You have to be extremely careful if you want to choose the best eCommerce platform. With so many options in the market, you can find it quite hard to make an informed decision.
As we move to the dispensation that is largely dominated by the IoT, it is crucial to select an eCommerce platform whose design will help you grow your business. It is good to go for headless eCommerce platforms that allow you to adapt to any type of channel of device that comes up in the market.