eCommerce platforms have seen a significant uptick in activity in recent years. Although this uptick was because of the pandemic, habits formed during this period stay with consumers in the post-pandemic world. It is not to mean that physical shopping will not be a noteworthy phenomenon for brands, but together with online shopping, it will act as an accelerant to your brand growth. With the new demands of today’s consumers across industrial verticals, merchants are feeling the need for a robust digital commerce experience which offers an omnichannel, customized, and scalable experience while staying on top of trends and user expectations.
While an eCommerce platform alone doesn’t guarantee success, it does play an instrumental role in forging long-lasting relationships with your customers or ensure seamless integration with other third-party systems. As a brand, if you’re looking to migrate your existing eCommerce platform to a modern solution or leverage one from scratch, the following are a few must-haves eCommerce features you must look for.
- Self-hosted SaaS-based capabilities
- Scalability and support for high volumes
- Speed and reliability
- Easy of using the platform (PMS)
- MultiStore capability for global fulfillment
- Integration with line of business applications
- High security
Functional requirements for ecommerce website
#1: Self-hosted Saas based platform
Broadly, there are two different types of eCommerce platforms: open-source and SaaS-based.
An open-source eCommerce platform is one where merchants receive a complete, unobstructed access to the software where developers hold full control over it. This means, developers can quickly adapt and customize the eCommerce software to the changing market needs, build new functionalities as and when required.
On the other hand, a SaaS-based eCommerce platform is one which merchants lease, which means that you cannot change the source code. You can, however, leverage all of its features and functionalities as per your subscription. The best part, you don’t have to invest in maintenance, hosting, SSL and security of the platform. It is why the cloud SaaS market has tripped in global market size in the last 5 years owing to the low total cost of ownership.
Amongst the two, a SaaS-based eCommerce platform is a viable option considering the cost of investment and you can choose from amongst the various competitive options like Adobe Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, and commercetools depending on the features of eCommerce you are looking for.
Points to ask:
- What are the following costs: platform licensing fees, commission-based fees, hosting costs, subscription costs for add-ons & maintenance costs?
- What is the estimated annual cost of the eCommerce platform?
- How much is development cost on the platform?
#2: Proven scalability & support for high volumes:
A site’s scalability and support for high volumes is essential to a brand’s short- and long-term success. Retailers need to keep in mind that even minimal downtime can have a negative impact on eCommerce sales. When asked, 81% of companies said that only 60 minutes of downtime on their website might cost them up to $232,000 in lost revenue. In case of peak traffic or holiday sales, you can’t have your eCommerce site crash mid-sale only because it experienced a more-than-usual influx of shoppers. Everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve in terms of mobile functionality, site speed optimization, and retargeting tactics will be completely undone in your eCommerce platform is not scalable enough.
Scalability is one of the most critical eCommerce features that must be considered when choosing a platform. Your demands and those of your consumers will vary as your business grows and evolves, whether in terms of the products you sell or the frequency and volume of sales. It’s essential to pick a platform that will expand with you.
Points to ask:
- How does the eCommerce platform handle scalability?
- During generic platform updates, how much delay or downtime does the online store experience?
- Can I scale up and down depending on the traffic to my online store?
#3: Speed and Reliability
Site speed is one of the functional requirements for an eCommerce website. Long page load times have been shown to have a negative impact on conversion rates, which means that the longer it takes for your pages to load, the more likely it is that the visitor will leave the site. It is estimated that 40% of customers will leave a cart empty if the load time takes more than 3 seconds, while Statista research indicates that 75.6% of carts are abandoned globally due to site speed.
A speedy and high-performing eCommerce store will offer lightning-fast experiences to your shoppers and ensure their continued interest in surfing and browsing through products. From images to videos, versions, and life-like product views, everything on your eCommerce site must load in a matter of seconds for higher customer engagement and retention.
Points to ask:
- How much downtime does the platform experience and how often?
- How many products can be uploaded to the system?
- How does the platform handle slow loading page speed?
#4: Integration with line of business applications
Seamless integrations are one amongst the noteworthy eCommerce features. An eCommerce platform alone cannot run the entire show without the support of third-party business applications and systems. For growing and expanding businesses, it’s important to connect and integrate with third-party apps and systems to boost the overall functionality, productivity, and performance of your eCommerce solution.
This entails connecting to large data storage and analytics frameworks, synchronizing internal applications, merging data stores, and integrating partner, storefront, and marketplace data with back-end applications. Payment gateways, OMS, CMS, shipping providers, SMS, customer loyalty programs, accounting, marketing automation, ERP, email marketing tools, etc., are some examples of tools and systems that you will have to integrate to your eCommerce platform to ensure a consistent and end-to-end shopping experience.
Points to ask:
- How easy is it to install plugins to the platform?
- Is there a restriction to the number of plugins that can be integrated and any apps that are off the limit?
#5: Multi-store capability for global fulfillment
Since customers are no longer limited to geographies and regions, your eCommerce platform must adopt a global approach to service shoppers worldwide. Unlike erstwhile times where you needed to develop a new online site from scratch for different countries, merchants can now leverage multi-store capabilities of eCommerce platforms that will allow them to offer localized experiences to shoppers across boundaries. Retailers can now create multiple stores from 2 to n numbers depending on your business needs.
A modern eCommerce platform automatically detects a person’s browsing location and showcases a relevant online site customized in the regional language, currency, payment methods, product recommendations, product catalog, top-selling products, most-bought products, shipping duration, and so on.
#6: Unrivaled security
The success and longevity of your eCommerce platform depends on the security level provided by it. With concerns around cybersecurity and data leaks, it is imperative for merchants to build a secure and fortified online store that protects user information including their personal details, payment data, the ignorance of which can cost brands thousands to millions of dollars in remediation.