What is an E-Commerce Platform and How to Use it Wisely?
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If you want your online sales to be productive and meet the last market trends, then using an integrated e-commerce platform is not a will but a necessity.
Let’s say you won’t use digital solutions for business development. Then, it might stop evolving at all. What goals will you reach in a year or two without digitalization? It’s hard to promise any positive changes. Instead, your competitors can double or triple their revenues and leave you behind with the innovative technologies and the whole selling process automation, widening borders for assortment diversity, payment options, and the international e-commerce market.
The world is changing and leading us to skills’ upgrading, optimization, and clever managing. The customers feel they can get more, and your task is to satisfy their desires, doing it faster and better than your competitors. Overall, e-commerce platforms could give exactly what both clients and entrepreneurs want. Just don’t be afraid to widen your horizons and leave a comfort zone from time to time.
Table of Contents
What is an e-commerce platform, and why should you use one?
You can’t deny the tendency for online shopping growth, especially during the last pandemic years. As for entrepreneurs, it was a period when people took a new look at the weak points in their activities and began strengthening an online presence. Moreover, the digital environment allowed businesses to become more flexible and adapt to fast changes in market demands.
Positive selling dynamics increase the complexity of business management, and product and customer data proceeding. Here, e-commerce platform integration becomes the only correct decision for facilitating online sales operations.
So what is an e-commerce platform? It is a specific management system that can handle all the work of your digital store in one area. No matter what kind of business you run: small, medium, or large, it will operate all the data concerning the website, orders, products, clients, payments, return policy, etc. A platform is like an assistant to your teammates which has certain responsibilities for coordination, storing, and communication.
There are plenty of marketplaces to trade on, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, eBay, etc. Each of them comes with its particular features. But one thing is common - they all are applied in specific niches and support business to improve your profitability and stable work.
Building successful online sales channels is not about just making a product page. It is a more complicated process, requiring wise strategy. And an online e-commerce platform can handle this task. It provides an opportunity to sell and advertise goods to a wide variety of customers, whether you are a B2B or B2C player. And what is more important, it allows learning your customer's needs through the spectrum of their interactions in your online shop.
Customer buying analytics
Online platforms can source precise data on your business performance and clarify future steps for better client interactions and sales growth. All you require is a tool integration, which will provide you with helpful information:
- What is the number of visits on specific stuff?
- How many clients return to your shop for the next purchase?
- What content attracts visitors more than others?
- What page do customers load first?
- How many items from the basket end with a purchase?
The list of possible reports is huge enough. But what is a sense in analytics? Such robust data can show narrow places in the site performance, limiting sales levels. You may enhance these issues and raise customers’ engagement and conversion levels.
Find the right e-commerce platform in 5 steps
Choosing the right business software should be deliberate and thoughtful. Don’t jump the gun integrating the first found platform. It might not fit your online shop's operation. So what are the factors you need to consider in choosing an e-commerce platform? We’ve compiled 5 essential steps toward your business digitalization.
1. Set your goals
First, you should provide market research, and determine the target audience and products for vending. Second, compose your objectives, like testing different types of goods to find the bestsellers, concretizing clients’ niches, widening selling channels, etc.
In short, write what kinds of achievements you plan to reach using specific features of the e-commerce platform.
2. Outline your requirements
It‘s a good idea to notate what you search for in software. The list can be as extensive as your expectations from an e-commerce platform:
- Will you sell on local markets or ship goods worldwide?
- What budget will you set up for integration investment?
- Are you going to become a wholesaler or a dropshipper?
- What payment system do you prefer?
- Have you enough knowledge and IT support to run a website on your own?
- Are you working online or operating a brick-and-mortar shop?
- What business growth do you expect in a month/year?
Answers to this question should clarify what platforms and features you need.
3. Draw the software characteristics
At this stage, you should define e-commerce platform criteria that will suit your business needs. Some solutions may provide extra functionality not necessary for managing an online store. So, there is no need for the overpayment.
First, you should choose one of the possible types of e-commerce platforms. An open-source one, like WooCommerce, gives you more space for customization, but you have to configure and maintain the software yourself. Conversely, cloud e-commerce platforms like Shopify take responsibility for technical support, financial operations, security, etc. It’s a good decision for beginners, allowing them to start up faster. In this case, you should pay monthly fees for a software subscription.
Next, obtain the key functions of the e-commerce platform. Software that would lead your business to success must provide the following tasks :
- Manage operations at your store: orders, listings, price, shipping (with apps integration), returns, and others.
- Guarantee data and finances security with a safe HTTPS protocol and SSL encryption.
- Offer suitable payment methods.
- Have a friendly interface with the ability to blog and accept customers' reviews.
- Provide mobile versions or applications for smartphones.
4. Choose an e-commerce platform
Now you may find the software that meets all the demands in terms of management, safety, and cost issues. In addition, you are not bound to one platform and can freely choose something else that corresponds with your current interests.
On the other side, you may pick the scalable variant to make further upgrading and integration with your profit growth.
5. Test your choice
Don’t rush to subscribe to a platform. Instead, enjoy the benefits of trials, if they are possible. If not, check the policy for canceling if something goes wrong.
At this stage, you may add a couple of listings and monitor how the software works. Is it convenient to navigate on your website? Does technical support (by SaaS) satisfy your requests? Finally, try to make some analytical reports and check your website’s performance on different gadgets.
If everything is ok, buy or subscribe to an e-commerce platform and begin to work on increasing sales.
We’ve created a list of popular solutions for business digitalization. So you can start examining them right now.
The list of the best e-commerce platforms 2023
These top solutions will help to organize your multifunctional selling channels and lead you to your goals. Then, compare their features with your criteria and start to test new management.
It is a trendy US platform with 1,5 billion online stores operating. Shopify provides reliable and cost-saving services. The platform allows simple integration with valuable tools for shipping, automating, and analyzing. It is a good option for new sellers and small businesses. If you ever thought of starting to vend goods with a unique logo, then running a Shopify POD from scratch is possible with ease.
More than 2 million sellers worldwide use this marketplace for international trading. Etsy is a productive environment for those who like vintage goods or handmade items. You can easily organize dropshipping business model. The only rule is to vend stuff with your design. Etsy dropshipping strategies may give you ideas on how to use this e-commerce platform for a hefty profit.
This is an open-source platform, which can customize your online shop and perfectly represent your brand. It is created on a WordPress basis. So, if you already have a blog with attractive content, you may easily build a new store. There will be no need for another domain or traffic issues. It is an excellent lightweight solution for the local market. Businesses use it mainly to monetize their blogs or run POD with WooCommerce.
Besides, you can boost your business growth even more with integrated automated management and shipping control solutions. In addition, e-commerce platforms support some useful plugins to streamline your online shop.
The best software integrations for shipping and business process automation
Shipping applications can make order management and fulfillment operations very engaging. Why? Because it will automate all the processes. An online store owner benefits from streamlining routine processes and saving time on marketing research, new business ideas, etc.
There are many Etsy and Shopify integrations for your e-commerce. Let us introduce some tools to improve the shipping experience:
- Shipstation. The shipping software for optimizing workflow and setting up control over fulfillment. The tool sends tracking information about orders to customers and sellers.
- EasyShip. An app has a lot of functions for managing product sales, monitoring financial flow, generating labels, and other shop tasks automating. With EasyShip, you can send 100 packages every month for free. That is a great purpose for the startupers.
- Shippo. The tool has an extensive carriers’ database and provides customers with up-to-date tracking information.
Shipping software integration can delight your clients with fast delivery and real-time package location. So it is worth attention in line with the “choosing an e-commerce platform” issue.
An e-commerce platform with its automated features can significantly facilitate your enterprise management. You will get a total understanding and control over all processes in an online store. Searching for an option scalable to the business is almost effortless with proper knowledge of your goals and essential software criteria.
What is the best e-commerce platform? There is no single correct answer. Everyone has their truth. The perfect software is the one that will satisfy your clients and lead your business to outstanding achievements within your rules.