Update 6/3/2021: This post has been updated with the list of best Ecommerce platforms in 2021.
Digitization is the key to the success of online stores. Many customers are attracted to buying at a click, then visiting some retail store and purchasing the products or services. E-commerce purchases are expected to increase by 22% in 2023. Thus, any business looking to gain some good fortune can’t ignore the power of online stores.
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The return on investments (ROI), ease of buying, and connection with large audiences are the main advantages of any online store. The essential requirement to make it a success is a user-friendly eCommerce platform that brings businesses and buyers together. So, what is an e-commerce platform all about?
What Is an Ecommerce Platform?
A unified platform that provides different tools for purchasing and selling online is termed an e-commerce platform. It allows a safe environment for both the buyers and the sellers to come over and play their part in the business. An e-commerce platform must include a product portfolio, shopping cart, and safe checkout options for any customer.
Any business can select their e-commerce platform out of the three given options:
1. Open-Source e-commerce platform:
The open-source e-commerce platform allows complete control of the e-commerce activities of any business. It is widely used in companies with large product portfolios and big enterprises. It is PCI-complaint and provides options in on-premise and cloud hosting services.
The platform provider handles all the manual patches and update releases. It allows businesses to build discount and promotion engines, drag and drop builders, and merchandise and marketing tools. All open-source e-commerce platforms require significant levels of technical expertise.
2. Software-as-a-Service e-commerce platform:
The cloud-based e-commerce platform removes the complexity of operations for any online store. It is an easy to use, maintain, and highly affordable option in e-commerce platforms. All products come with APIs, PCI compliance, hosting services, security, and product features.
3. Headless e-commerce platform:
It is a modern e-commerce platform where the shopping carts are decoupled, providing high API flexibility and low total ownership costs. It is easy to maintain a monolithic single-source using the API’s decoupled technology and the latest plug-ins.
Why Should We Use An E-commerce Platform?
Many businesses may argue over the productivity or the other benefits of an e-commerce platform.
First of all, an e-commerce platform is the backbone of any online store. All the commerce activities like buying and selling require a unified environment best met by these highly functional platforms.
Thus, any business that aims to serve its customers in the best possible manner can’t ignore the potential of an e-commerce platform. Therefore, whether it is about customer service, sales, marketing, or branding, it is a sureshot tool of success for any online store.
Importance of E-commerce Platforms
According to one study, around 95% of the purchases will be completed using the e-commerce platform by 2040. So, why are these platforms so crucial for any business?
1. Fast market time:
Customers don’t have to spare extra time out of their busy schedules to go shopping. The e-commerce platform provides fast go-to-market time. The customers only have to enter their basic details and start shopping using secure e-commerce platforms.
2. Low-cost platforms:
Start-ups and small businesses can go for the e-commerce platform due to its low cost. Companies don’t have to spend thousands of dollars as it is easy to maintain an e-commerce platform. The different options in the open-source, SaaS and headless e-commerce platforms make it easy for the companies to choose the best affordable option.
3. Customers can start online:
Many customers search about any product or service online before purchasing. Thus, your e-commerce platform will make it easy for the customers to start searching, selecting, and shopping online only. Therefore, it improves the chances of getting more customers and provides ease of shopping to the customers.
4. Easy to reach new customers:
The internet has made the entire world a big digital family. Thus, having an e-commerce platform makes it easy for businesses to reach new customers without additional costs. You may get multiple referrals from your existing customers. Companies can use various touchpoints to include e-commerce platforms in their online marketing strategy.
5. Effective content marketing strategy:
The product descriptions, how-to-use tutorials, and other details make an e-commerce platform the perfect content marketing tool. Customers will get attracted to your platform with the power of the content. Further, the content marketing strategy works best for retail and other online stores.
6. Easy to serve niche markets:
Niche market customers require the best from limited sources. Thus, the e-commerce platform allows businesses to serve niche markets in the best possible way.
7. Connects customers with easy buying:
Who doesn’t want to buy or order at the click of a button? But the entire process is vulnerable to multiple security threats. Thus, an e-commerce platform allows businesses to connect customers to accessible buying practices. The security certificates of these platforms provide a safe environment for selling and purchasing goods and services.
8. Customer data insights:
Data is the king for any online store, and when it comes to managing customer data, an e-commerce platform can be highly beneficial for any business. Companies can use these platforms to study customer details, preferences, purchase histories, etc. Thus, businesses can manage the entire customer lifecycle using the data insights from the e-commerce platform.
Things to consider while choosing an E-commerce platform
An e-commerce platform has great importance for any online store. But it is easy to get confused in selecting the right e-commerce platform for your business. Thus, the top things to keep in mind while choosing an e-commerce platform include:
1. Pricing and payment structure:
Any e-commerce platform shouldn’t lose the essence of being a significant return-on-investment. All modern platforms have monthly fees and hosting charges. Thus, you can select the best e-commerce platform depending on the pricing plans and the payment options.
Any leading e-commerce platform should offer seamless integrations of other applications and tools. It allows businesses to bring plenty of tools under one umbrella only.
It further ensures the seamless flow of information without any loss of customer data. Thus, any e-commerce platform should be open to accounting, email marketing, shipping plug-ins.
Majority of the internet users access browsers through smartphones only. Thus, your e-commerce platform must be mobile-friendly. Thus, while selecting a platform for your online store, it is essential to match its feasibility on desktop and mobiles.
4. Customer service:
Businesses require support, and when it comes to the e-commerce platform, the service provider must offer 24*7 customer supports to handle all issues. Thus, while selecting an e-commerce platform, you must go through the different modes and types of customer support offered by the platform.
Startups must invest in a highly scalable e-commerce platform. The limited resources of any platform can quickly get exhausted, and hence businesses have to look for other alternatives. Thus, scalability is another important factor in deciding on an e-commerce platform.
With the growth of internet usage, there is a simultaneous growth in cybercrimes. Thus, any e-commerce platform should be highly secured to prevent any unauthorized access to information. The PCI or payment card industry-compliant e-commerce platforms are best to go with the HTTPS/SSL modes for safe checkouts.
Top E-commerce Software Solutions
Some of the top and best platforms for an e-commerce website are:
Magento is another top choice in the based e-commerce platform for businesses running online stores. It is an open-source platform. It is the first choice of the large IT companies that are looking for an on-premise e-commerce platform.
Volusion is an ideal e-commerce platform for start-ups and small businesses. It is a robust platform that comes from an American company operating since 1999.
Demandware or Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a highly-rated e-commerce platform that online retail stores prefer.
E-commerce platforms empower modern online stores in many different ways. Thus, it becomes crucial to choose the best platform for any e-commerce website. There are many options available in the market.
These high-end commerce solutions are one of the mandatory requirements of many online stores. All you need to do is choose the right e-commerce platform that works hard on your requirements to take your business to new heights.