Because no two online stores are alike, a flexible yet controlled environment is required. Most e-commerce systems provide with everything you need to get started with a basic online business right away. However, there may be times when you need to add new functionality, such as payment and delivery methods support.
One way to deal with this issue is to look for pre-built connectors that the software provider offers or supports. Both Episerver and commercetools, our favorite e-commerce systems, offer a variety of plugins and add-ons for integrating popular third-party solutions with their own.
If no ready-made extension exists, a platform like commercetools’ headless or microservices-based architecture provides the most flexibility by including extensive application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow clients to connect to any frontend, integrate various third-party applications, and communicate with smart devices. This allows brands and retailers to continuously develop new features, expand the functionality of their online store, and influence the long-term future of their digital shopping experience.
Any e-commerce business aims to develop to the point where it can extend its operations by serving more clients or increasing its product inventory. When selecting a platform, it’s critical to think about your long-term objectives.
Agility, speed, and scalability can all be improved with an extensible platform design provided by open and well-documented APIs. The scalability and flexibility of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) e-commerce platforms housed natively in the cloud enable for real-time adaptation to any traffic volume and changing client expectations. However, be wary of claims made by a growing number of legacy software providers who use the term “cloud” in their product names. While they may claim to be hosted in the cloud, they are frequently still using outdated software that lacks the scalability of native SaaS solutions like commercetools. Simply request a trial instance of the software from a vendor and see how long or short it takes them to give it — it should be a question of hours rather than days.
What connects Bright’s favored vendors across all categories is that they are all cloud-native solutions that take use of the cloud’s advantages and scalability.
Modern e-commerce platforms aren’t just web-based; they should work in any browser on any device and look like any other website. They should be able to power other channels as well, such as mobile devices, point-of-sale devices, and even print.
You should always choose an e-commerce platform that allows you to extend your digital commerce to other devices and channels, even if people outside of your web-based channels aren’t your key target market. For example, Commercetools provides a Mobile Commerce solution for creating Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and native apps for iOS in order to provide exceptional digital purchasing experiences on any mobile device. Aside from that, its APIs make it simple to integrate your online shopping experience or product catalog into almost any platform or solution.
One of the most significant advantages of online commerce is that it allows businesses of all sizes to access global markets without significantly increasing their operating costs. If you want to target international markets, though, you’ll need to pick a platform that’s easy to adapt to international operations.
Support for numerous languages, currencies, and taxation standards are all important features of worldwide e-commerce. Support for local time zones can also aid with order tracking by removing uncertainty. Finally, depending on local availability and, in certain cases, legal restrictions, the areas or nations you serve may provide different product catalogs.
A product management system’s primary purpose is to make it simple for sales teams to add and manage product listings. Importing CSV or Excel files into the platform, bulk uploading product photos, and adding new product categories are the most basic examples. For larger companies, this frequently involves being able to seamlessly synchronize data from 3rd party systems like product information management (PIM), digital asset management (DAM), or ERP systems.
Aside from that, you should consider how the system handles inventories, orders, and returns. Because all of these components must interact reliably with one another, it’s a good idea to pick a platform that includes everything you’ll need to run an online store.
Many e-commerce platform providers offer a fully managed solution that includes technical support and customer care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the form of a pre-agreed monthly subscription, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offers also provide full insight into costs. Additional support in the form of seminars and other training sessions may be included with some platforms to help teams come up to speed with using the platform.
Choose a platform vendor whose goals are similar to yours. Always check to see if the vendor has a track record of sticking to their service level agreements (SLAs). After all, when something goes wrong, you need to be able to fix it as quickly as possible. Look for companies who offer emergency support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by email, phone, and web chat.
Finally, when it comes to the agency and systems integrator that will design and operate your online store, make informed decisions. They often have a better awareness of the platform vendor’s strengths and shortcomings than you have, and they may also have more direct communication with their team.