How to Find an E-Commerce Platform That Grows With You
E-commerce was taking the retail world by storm long before COVID-19. However, once the pandemic hit, brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors in a matter of weeks to protect customers and employees — a move that made e-commerce a business necessity.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to set up an e-commerce platform. However, what’s important to some retailers may not be as important to others in different stages of business development. New businesses might have less experience with e-commerce and need only basic design and functionality. Likewise, enterprises might be seeking something beyond basic sales reports and record-keeping tools.
The Misconceptions of E-Commerce
Implementing an e-commerce payment platform can seem like a big undertaking, but it creates incredible opportunities for your business when done correctly. Keep these things in mind:
- You don’t have to be all in. Welcome to the world of omnichannel retail. Creating a plan that allows you to use e-commerce payment options is vital for your business. Think about how stores are operating right now with buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, pick up at curb (BOPAC), along with conveniences like the option to order by phone. These approaches help companies serve their customers despite their inability to let shoppers come inside. These ways of shopping are likely here to stay — even under “normal” circumstances.
- Explore how to improve e-commerce customer experiences. This can seem intimidating, but it isn’t something you should worry about. Many e-commerce payment platforms include all the functions you need in their systems. This means you can set yourself up without a massive investment of time and money, especially when you have a good customer experience strategy focused on improving the e-commerce experience.
- Make the most of customization. Many platforms offer easy ways to integrate functionality into your website, invoice customers, and even collect in-person payments. This means you don’t have to seek out different platforms just to get the functionality you want.
Why Different Stages Matter
It’s important to pay attention to any growth your business is experiencing because it might create the need for additional business functions and payment plans. A growing business can’t succeed with a payment system that doesn’t scale with it. Avoid e-commerce payment challenges as you scale by ensuring your platform can grow with your business.
Shopify, for example, is an e-commerce platform that helps businesses move their stores online and adopt omnichannel approaches. Early customers were responsible for fulfillment, but Shopify has since added a fulfillment network to its offering and improved software tools and kits to allow businesses to integrate Shopify apps into their websites more easily. This move made Shopify a completely cloud-based e-commerce payment platform.
How to Match Growth to E-Commerce
To implement an e-commerce platform that matches the pace of your growth, do these four things:
- Focus on must-have e-commerce features. The admins of an e-commerce platform are the ones managing everything and everyone, and there are some features they can’t do without. They include:
- Product catalog: Use a product catalog that allows vendors to add their prices. This makes things easy for sellers and reduces the amount of work admins must complete to manage various stores.
- Scalability and customization: Whether your business is adding products or vendors, admins should be able to add and customize your website as needed so that the e-commerce platform grows with you.
- Product review management: Product review assists admins in establishing a product’s credibility. Featured products help sellers showcase their products, but they also allow admins to create revenue streams.
- Automated task processing: Automation is essential to managing the marketplace and completing tasks like setting commissions and calculating shipping in real time.
- Reports and data: Admins can use data from sales reports and customers to improve recommendations and grow future revenue.
- Research is essential. Analyze your market and the strategies of competitors, gather information on your customers’ needs, and think about the pain points your marketplace can address. As GE Business Innovations executive Beth Comstock famously said, “Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.”
- Make it user friendly. Technology might have great capabilities, but it still requires human users. Make it easy for users to adopt, helping customers and managers understand how to maximize results using new tools.
- Get the word out. Setting up an online store isn’t the end of the work; it’s the beginning. Boost sales with strong digital marketing tactics like search engine optimization and social media, and consult experts to maximize your return on investment.
Getting started with e-commerce is as simple as setting up an account with a platform, but it gets more complicated the further you go. Make the most of your investment by creating a strategy that fits the needs of your business while prioritizing a platform that includes must-have e-commerce features — not just the one that everyone else is using.