Today, the digital economy is just as important as the traditional economy. The products of companies and craftspeople alike are now frequently sold online. Consumers also have the opportunity to purchase a wide range of services on the web.
In recent years, ecommerce platforms have become the showcase for the commercial activities of online entrepreneurs. They’re now an essential marketing and direct sales tool, allowing businesses to benefit from access to the globalized market.
Whether you’re launching a new business or have one that’s already highly active commercially, an ecommerce platform represents new growth opportunities.
What is an ecommerce platform?
Serving as support for businesses on the web, an ecommerce platform can help to unify various important processes for the business to help boost efficiency and optimization.
A website dedicated to sales
An ecommerce platform is a specific kind of software whose functions are designed for the sale of products online. It also often integrates marketing, accounting, inventory management, and shipping control features.
Ecommerce platforms can help small and large businesses alike to benefit from an effective commercial presence on the web. There are even ecommerce platforms that solely facilitate the resale of products.
From a simple web presence to a place for online sales to occur
For a long time, websites were little more than online store “windows” to display business activities. Now, these showcases are well trafficked. You can find a significant number of goods and services that can be purchased online with electronic payment methods.
These websites have gone from simply representing businesses to featuring the possibility of carrying out commercial transactions. This paradigm shift in the use of websites makes it possible to reach far more and more distant markets.
Ecommerce has undoubtedly been an important accelerating factor in the globalization of trade. It’s even more so since the use of ecommerce platforms is not reserved only for large organizations. Companies of all sizes and even individuals can use them to sell their products and services.
An integrated approach to ecommerce
The best ecommerce platform options can integrate not just sales and marketing but also shipping services, the return of defective products, after-sales services, and management of the entire supply chain. Depending on its complexity, an ecommerce site handles one or more of these business activities.
In addition, the most efficient websites can connect to the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system or even integrate some of these specific modules. The customer relationship is at the heart of the activities of an ecommerce platform.
This integrated approach is complemented by the possibility for the customer to use a variety of online payment methods to make a purchase. The customer’s account is automatically debited after a purchase or refunded after a complaint.
Which kind of ecommerce platform is best for your online business?
There are five main types of ecommerce platforms. The choice of one type of platform over another depends on the skills of its operator, its infrastructure, and of course the budget the user wants to devote to it.
Small businesses often opt for the convenience of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform like WiziShop. This is because they have neither the time nor the financial resources to bear the high infrastructure costs of other platforms.
However, which online store builder you choose depends mainly on the markets your business is targeting and your geographical location. Other factors to consider are the number of customers to whom your business wants to sell and the sales volume of your products.
Software as a service (SaaS)
For businesses using a SaaS for their online store, the platform resides in the cloud. It’s accessible directly from any web browser. The use of this solution is extremely simplified, since no web server needs to be installed and no content has to be stored on a local computer.
All the business requires is a good internet connection to operate the platform. Its updates and maintenance are managed by the cloud operator.
Most of the time, an ecommerce platform that operates as a SaaS has powerful and flexible features. It’ll also generally provide the best return on investment.
Though SaaS solutions are popular with small businesses, WiziShop is also the platform of choice for larger companies due to its simplicity and ease of use!
A licensed ecommerce platform works the same way as many of the software products on the market. The business buys the license to use it indefinitely. These platforms are often more expensive to purchase and do not necessarily have a maintenance and update contract built-in.
Their capabilities can generally be expanded by purchasing new modules. The advantage of the licensed ecommerce platform is that the business retains full control over the license’s deployment and operation.
The open-source option offers a particular mode of operation. All programs of this type are free of rights.
It’s therefore entirely possible to modify the source code, provided you have the necessary skills. As open-source ecommerce platforms are free, the only initial investment is in website hosting.
However, technical support is usually limited. It’ll therefore be necessary for the business owner to get used to browsing the user forums of the community to find solutions to the problems encountered. There may also be compatibility problems between the open-source ecommerce application and the web server on which it is deployed.
Although the extremely low initial cost of open-source solutions make them a tempting option, remember that the extra fees for website development and maintenance can quickly add up!
Platform as a service (PaaS)
An ecommerce platform operating as a PaaS is usually interconnected with the rest of the enterprise IT infrastructure. It offers hardware and software tools over the internet and is most frequently used by developers who want to create special software or applications.
This choice is often reserved for large organizations that have the resources to operate and expand it.
In some instances, a company may have to develop its ecommerce platform, which is what is known as a proprietary application. This is suitable for organizations that need to maintain full control over their online business operations.
Proprietary platforms include important constraints, particularly regarding online electronic payment and the security of transactions. Only a few high-volume retailers can adopt this expensive solution.
What are the advantages of using an ecommerce platform to sell products?
An ecommerce platform helps to ensure a commercial presence on the web. It also comes with a wide range of advantages for onlines stores.
Allows you to focus your efforts on your core business: sales
HIgh-quality ecommerce platforms are relatively easy to use. They don’t require any special computer skills.
You can therefore concentrate on your business activities, since sales are what benefits the business. You don’t have to waste time and resources configuring and troubleshooting complex applications.
Improves customer experience
For an online store to be popular, it must provide the best user experience possible. Ecommerce platforms offer personalization features so that sellers can showcase their products. In addition, they can incorporate themes that help reflect their brand identity.
The more the ecommerce platform is customized, the more it will be able to satisfy the brand’s customers. The platform that provides the best customer experience will be the most successful.
Increases business agility
Ecommerce platforms offer great adaptability. This allows those who use them to highlight the features that are best suited to the promotion and acquisition of their products and services. Catalog browsing, customer information, and order processing can be optimized.
This optimization must be reviewed often to respond with agility to new customer needs. A quick response is synonymous with customer satisfaction and increased sales.
Provides user assistance
One of the great advantages of ready-to-use ecommerce platforms is that they offer quality user support. The most frequently used platforms benefit from permanent updates.
It’s easy to find answers to specific problems on the site of their publishers as well as on the many forums available online. Technical problems are generally reported very quickly, and corrections can also be made in a short amount of time.
Important ecommerce platform features
To be truly effective from a commercial point of view, the best ecommerce platform for your small business must include certain features.
Multiple themes available
To create the best possible user experience, a platform for an ecommerce business needs to offer a variety of themes. These are sets of graphical elements and interactive features that are adaptable by the user.
Your chosen platform should provide you with a selection of different themes so that you can build a site that accurately represents your one-of-a-kind brand.
The graphic and interactive elements can be designed to serve the commercial objectives of the website. Just like for a traditional store, it’s still the “window” that attracts buyers.
Easily modifiable content
The content displayed by the ecommerce platform should be easy to change.
It must be possible for you to create and update your site without prior training. Furthermore, these updates should be able to be performed quickly to promote agility in responding to customer needs.
Online assistance and support documents
Your ecommerce platform must have a high-quality online support system and provide sufficient documentation.
Even if it’s often difficult to find answers to all the questions a user may have, the publisher of a good ecommerce platform is aware of the problems already encountered by users and knows how to troubleshoot them as quickly as possible.
The dysfunctions of an online commercial site often risk causing the business to lose sales. From a customer’s point of view a functioning website without technical problems is definitely an asset, as it allows for a much more enjoyable shopping experience.
Security is important for online shoppers and retailers alike. As you can imagine, commercial transactions, especially those made with electronic means of payment, must be protected.
Hackers often want to access online stores to misappropriate the information that passes through them. Recent examples of hacking, even on reputable ecommerce applications, prove that measures to secure online trade must be taken very seriously.
It’s possible that an ecommerce website may quickly meet the owner’s expectations for success. In this case, the platform on which these operations are performed must be scalable to the new activities of the business.
If the platform isn’t able to adapt quickly to the store’s new needs, sales may be missed, as these malfunctions frequently snowball. Potential customers quickly lose interest in an online store that hasn’t been able to manage its growth and may voice their frustrations across the internet.
Easy product navigation
Ecommerce business customers greatly appreciate the ease with which they can browse through a website’s product catalog. They need to be able to quickly access the product they are looking for using easy-to-use navigation tools.
It’s also particularly important for them to be able to perform accurate searches. Since many sales are now made from mobile devices, voice-search capabilities should be considered.
The purpose of using an online sales site is the acquisition of goods and services. To ensure that all transactions are successful, buyers should be offered multiple payment options.
It would be damaging to the reputation of the store for a shopper to be able to place an order without being able to proceed to the payment of the items.
Of course, all financial transactions must be easy to carry out and very secure. Today, ecommerce websites are increasingly using two-factor authentication. Here, the payment then becomes the responsibility of both the online business and the customer's bank.
Responsive design for cross-device usage
An ecommerce website must be able to be displayed in the same way regardless of the device from which it is viewed. Responsive design has become the norm, as it makes it easier for shoppers to acclimate to a site’s unique user experience.
Customers appreciate being able to use an ecommerce platform in the same way on their smartphones as on their desktop computers. For an ecommerce business, responsive design is a way to build customer loyalty through customer viewing habits.
Ecommerce is a natural extension of traditional business approaches. It’s indeed safe to say that online shopping will only grow in popularity in the future!
Ecommerce platforms are often the most appropriate solution to create efficient online stores that are easy to use and that respect most budgets. However, it’s essential that you choose the solution that best fits you and the unique needs of your business.
Our SaaS platform, WiziShop, makes launching your online store a cinch. This one-stop solution offers a variety of themes, tools, and coaching services to assist ecommerce businesses of all kinds.
You’ll be able to create an account and build your website with the English version of WiziShop in the coming months. Be sure to visit our homepage and provide your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!