by Stephanie Miles
Published on 20 December 2013
eCommerce software suites have never been that trendy.
Ninety-five percent of American teens are doing their shopping online these days, according to a 2013 survey by Pew Research, and retailers are rushing to keep up with demand. As businesses with brick-and-mortar stores branch into the world of online shopping, many are relying on all-in-one ecommerce software suites to provide the back-end support necessary to promote and sell goods online.
What many internet and online businesses are finding, however, is that some ecommerce platforms really are too good to be true. The latest batch of all-in-one ecommerce software suites go beyond website design and transaction management, promising to do everything from handling recurring billing to even creating dedicated affiliate programs for retailers.
Advanced tools can be useful in certain situations, but the majority of internet and online businesses looking for simple ways to sell goods online do not need to rely on expensive platforms with all the bells and whistles. These retailers would be much better served by utilizing straightforward systems that offer all the tools necessary to manage an online business, and nothing more.
Here is a list of five things that internet and online businesses should look for when selecting ecommerce software.
The more clicks a customer is required to make before completing a purchase, the higher the likelihood that the customer will abandon his cart before finishing the transaction. Top ecommerce software suites have taken this into consideration, providing business owners with a seamless checkout process for their customers. When selecting an ecommerce software system to power your online store, it is worth taking the time to walk through the checkout process on a few competing platforms to determine which system seems the most intuitive and straightforward.
Shoppers will not spend money on a website that they don't feel like they can trust, which means businesses need to invest in ecommerce software that feels secure and functions flawlessly. Businesses that sell products online need to have websites that are Level 1 PCI compliant and use, at minimum, 128 bit SSL encryption. By selecting a platform that integrates with leading payment processors - the most popular of which are Authorize.net, Paypal and Stripe - smaller businesses are able to offload the management of financial information and make their websites more secure.
Customers are increasingly using smartphones and tablets when shopping online. Retailers that fail to take this trend into account when designing their sales websites will be missing out on a significant portion of their target audiences. It is in a retailer's best interest to select an ecommerce sales platform that includes built-in mobile shopping carts. Customers should also be able to view products from a separate mobile website that has been optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets.
One of the beauties of online shopping has to do with the data that businesses are able to collect. Transactions, browsing habits, and purchasing histories are easy to track. Although it is possible to collect this information manually using a series of spreadsheets, retailers would be better served by opting for ecommerce platforms that let them analyze incoming orders, product sales and payments automatically. This data can be parsed and crunched in a way that provides insight to the business owner and improves the way he manages his store.
Depending on the goods or services that a business is selling, subscription billing can be a very useful feature to look for in an ecommerce software system. Subscription billing allows business owners to automatically charge their customers' credit or debit cards each month. In some cases, the software can also manage expiring credit cards, pro rate services for partial months and track cancellation requests. Business owners should look for software systems that support as many payment gateways as possible. At a minimum, systems should support at least 40 payment gateways.
If you are looking at increasing the reach of your business with an online store, you will like this article on the top five eCommerce and shopping cart software.