What Is The Best
E-Commerce Software Solution?
A good online store needs to be able to rely on a good e-commerce platform. Choosing the right software is therefore one of the most important decisions when starting your online store.
Back-end and front-end
The e-commerce software is the basis and backbone of your e-commerce business. Through the software your customers can visit your online store and you can handle the orders.
It is important that you have a good front-end (what the visitor gets to see) and a good back-end (administration panel). This allows customers to easily order and you can easily process the orders.
Probably the most important part of the e-commerce software is the back-end. Most e-commerce software allows you to completely change the design, or the front-end of your online store.
The importance of e-commerce software
When you just start your e-commerce business, you probably do everything yourself, including the customer service. In the beginning you can answer your e-mail from, for example, a gmail or yahoo e-mail account, perhaps using outlook.
But at the moment there will be two or more people working in customer service, it becomes undoable to just use an e-mail account. How do you know which e-mails have been answered or what the colleague(s) already followed up?
At that moment you need a ticket system to deal with requests. And wouldn’t it be handy if the client’s communication would be directly linked to their order in the e-commerce software? To enable that it is important that your e-commerce software has a link with customer service software (ticket system, chat, etc.) available, perhaps even already integrated. When your e-commerce software doesn’t have such a plug-in or link available, this will necessitate you to change to another e-commerce platform.
This is just one example of the importance of e-commerce software, we will deal more elaborately with important e-commerce software features below.
When is e-commerce software not important (yet)?
Choosing and transfering to another e-commerce platform takes a lot of time and money. It is important you take everything into account to decide what is best for your e-commerce business.
Sometimes acquiring (new) e-commerce software is not the priority for an online store.
If you are in a niche that has little sales (for example when you sell extremely expensive or rare/limited-edition (luxury) goods), or when you are just in the start-up phase, you may want to focus on other things.
If you don’t have a lot of sales, you may want to improve the design of your current online store first, and focus on achieving higher conversion. You may want to dedicate your time and money rather to the marketing. This may be very valid priorities!
When you do double your sales, you may want to look for an upgrade of your e-commerce software later on anyway, but you can do first things first!
Important Features, Links and Plug-ins
When your e-commerce business grows, you will need various links, features and plug-ins, of which we will discuss the main ones (=selection criteria for choosing e-commerce software) below.
The power of blogging for an online store is sometimes underestimated. We believe that the possibility of blogging is something that should be seriously looked at when choosing e-commerce software. Especially as blogs are not always integrated in e-commerce software.
A blog allows you to share information you wouldn’t be able to share otherwise. When you and your competitor sell a photo camera, you will mention exactly the same specs and mostly the same information on your product page. But when you blog about this photo camera and for example compare it to another camera (for example nikon vs canon camera) you will have an advantage over your competitor.
You can also make a top 10 of your products, discuss some new developments/products, take people “behind the screen” and show the business behind the store’s online front, etc.
All of that is interesting, but what is perhaps most interesting about a blog is that google loves it. It will make your online store rise vis-à-vis competitors that don’t blog. We have a blog integrated with our online store, and even though those blogs are not among the most-widely read, it does impact our google rankings!
Link with your (future) book-keeping
When your turnover rises to over, for example, 100.000 USD / GBP, your tax agency will demand a more professional financial administration than when you have 50 sales of an average of 20 USD/GBP (1000 USD/GBP) per month. An e-commerce solution without the possibility of integrating your accounting needs may be good enough for now – with 50 sales you can also do the book-keeping with excel sheets – but when your business grows you will not be able to do the book-keeping in excel.
You will want to have an automated system and you will have to transfer to another e-commerce platform because the current one doesn’t have a link for your book-keeping. That would be a loss. For that reason, check the book-keeping features of your e-commerce software.
Option for Multi-Stores
Some e-commerce solutions allow you to have multiple front-ends with one back-end. So this means you will be able to do your administration, stock management, everything in one while you actually run multiple online stores.
When you may expand to other countries in the future, or other fields, this is a very relevant feature to check.
Having a standard lay-out, an online store looking like dozens of others, is not a good idea. People will recognize and appreciate it when they see you put effort into creating a nice and fresh design, and will likewise see it when you didn’t put in the effort.
Also, if there are any online stores with a similar design that left a bad impression on them, this will also impact their evaluation of your online store negatively.
For these reasons, look if you can adapt designs with the e-commerce software you may start to use.
This is nowadays a must. More and more people are shopping on their tablet or on their smartphone. Make sure your online store looks good across all devices, and choose e-commerce software that offers the possibility of a mobile friendly version of your website.
I already mentioned it above, it is important that when more than one person will be working in the customer service, that your e-commerce solution has the possibility of integrating a Customer Service ticketing system.
Plug-ins and API available
The above list is by no means comprehensive and just indicates some features that we find important. This is from our own experience running multiple online stores. You may have or develop other demands when it comes to e-commerce software features. What is important is that there are many and high quality plug-ins available in the e-commerce software package that you will choose and that there is an API (application programming interface) which allows you to use and even develop your own links.
Choose directly the perfect software for you!
Once your store is online it is a whole lot of work to switch to another e-commerce platform. Only entering all products in the new software already takes up a lot of time.
So take some time to compare all the options. Register for a free trial and try some things in the software itself.
Many e-commerce platforms offer a plethora of possibilities. It is important not just to look at the possibilities but also look at the limitations. When your e-commerce business becomes successful you will first of all run into the limitations of e-commerce software.
Look at the company behind the software
Do a little research (you will already find a lot of information in the articles below) and also look at the company behind the software. You may find a very cheap local alternative to some of the providers we discuss. Don’t choose a “pirate” who is operating from his attic. They will not be able to offer the developments and modifications necessary in an ever-changing e-commerce landscape that develops and evolves very quickly (and then we didn’t discuss support yet).
Does the company have the clout to compete in the fastly developing e-commerce landscape? Does it operate in all the countries you may want to do (future) business in? Can the company quickly react to new developments, yes indeed instigate those developments? Look at these questions and what is relevant and important for you. Choose e-commerce software with which you are ready for now, and for the future.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
I am very satisfied with the e-commerce platforms discussed below. They provide good software and a good support. I advise you therefore to start your online store with one of these e-commerce platforms.
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