Selecting the Right E-Commerce Platform
Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow from US$ 38.5 billion as of 2017 to US$ 200 billion by 2026. However, one needs to be cognizant of the huge competition in the industry and know how to differentiate in acquiring and retaining customers. E-commerce isn’t just about ease of buying any more but about the experience that you give to your customers. The reason Amazon is Amazon, is because they keep customer experience at the center of their strategy. Hence, whatever stage your business is at, whenever you set out to start your online business, remember everything you do should revolve around creating a great customer experience.
There are multiple e-commerce platforms out there in the market and they all might appear to provide similar benefits; however, there are tons of things that you should consider while selecting the best one that suits your requirements. We have created a comprehensive list of factors to help you start & the most important factor for any business growth is to solve the customer’s problem easily and delight them with more than they expect.
Community and Easy Support
While there are multiple free to download open source platforms in the market, keep in mind that if you are just starting an internet business, you would need a lot of support. Even a basic customization needs code editing. Make sure there is someone to answer all your queries and provide solution to bugs because a single error could bring down your website.
Personalization and Ability to Handle Complexities
Your product catalog might look simple today but it will get complicated and muti-layered as your business scales up. The ecommerce platform should be capable to handle that else later you would have no choice left except rebuilding it. Check if your platform is capable to track customer buying behavior and patterns and make appropriate suggestions. Personalization is the key to enhancing customer experience.
Operations and Admin Processes
Once a customer has bought a product, he/she also wishes to receive it as soon as possible without realizing that there is also a long process from procurement, packing to delivery. Choose a platform that improves your operations. Find out if you could automate and optimize your order fulfillment process. Also, as your business scales up, you will need a proper planning of your inventory to reduce overheads. Find out if the platform has the capability to maintain a single customer as well as a single inventory database by syncing your customer and inventory information with your back-office system. Better operations will ensure faster deliveries which in return helps you provide a great customer experience.
SEO and Marketing
It is a no brainer that being on top of the search page increases chances of your visibility by more than 66%. If the platform already has basic SEO tools, the job becomes easier. In addition to an attractive user interface, your virtual store needs to have relevant text data, URL’s to being search engine optimized and further an easy integration with Google analytics, to help strategize your marketing budgets.
Your chosen platform must enable you to integrate with third party applications. If not now, then in future, you will need to have payment gateways, logistic partners, email, SMS partners, ERP, CRM etc all integrated in one platform. Ability to use and provide API’s for external integrations makes the platform more supportive and increases usability.
This kind of platform allows you to customize any and everything basis your business requirements and complexities. Here you get the access to source code, and there are no monthly license fees. This option is great if you do not want to invest much but still want to differentiate from other virtual stores in your own way.
Licensed and Hosted by the Store Owner
If you have a mature tech team and feel the need of constant support directly from core development team of the platform building organization for managing your website, then a licensed platform is the way to go. You get licensed access to the source code. This model is good for a mature business with its in house IT team to work on upgrades and changes. The drawback is that if the platform goes stagnant you are stuck with them till you decide to rebuild.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS based platforms are very similar to licensed platforms except they include hosting and are monthly billed. It is quick and easy for a small sized ecommerce business to start by just dragging and dropping options from their menu to create a website. The drawback is that the monthly bill is proportional to the number of transactions on the website. Also if ever you need to move platforms because your data has become more complex, you need to rebuild from scratch since exporting/extracting data is not an option in this case. Hence, if you are expecting your online business scaling up very fast this is may be not a very appropriate choice for you.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
For a B2B business, platform as a service is an option. PaaS ecommerce enables you to flexible APIs that can interact with other systems. It allows business to link their ecommerce into their other enterprise systems like SAP, Ariba, Punchout2Go etc. This is useful if your business is selling to larger groups with complex procurement systems to purchase.
We know it is still not easy. Ambab is a pioneer in consulting and successfully delivering complex/Multi-brand/Multi-Country/Multi-Lingual e-commerce platforms globally and can help you make the best possible choice for your business. Ambab is an advanced partner for AWS and offers cloud hosting services to businesses that want a secure, scalable, low-cost solution for online sales.