When starting an online business, you need an eCommerce platform that not only helps cultivate a connection with your customers but one that’s:
- Easy to manage, allowing you to focus on other important tasks
- SEO-friendly, so customers can find you easily
- User-friendly, making site navigation quicker
The success of your online enterprise depends on your platform. If you choose a weak platform, visitors will shop somewhere else. At Pivofy, we develop personalized Shopify Plus websites for high-volume merchants, helping them establish strong networks with their customers.This guide will help you decide on an eCommerce platform and know what to consider when looking for one.
The Ideal eCommerce Platform
The ideal eCommerce platform meets your brand’s needs and leads to profitability. Before you pick a platform, you must know the characteristics of a good eCommerce platform and the different types of eCommerce platforms. We’re going to explore these two considerations below.
Characteristics of a Good eCommerce Platform
A good eCommerce platform is determined by how satisfied your customers are.
The table below summarises the features of a good eCommerce platform.
Types of eCommerce Platforms
Finding the right fit for your enterprise requires you to consider the different models available.
An open-source eCommerce platform includes freely available source code that gives users maximum control to create the perfect platform to suit their needs.
Examples of open-source eCommerce platforms are WooCommerce, Magento, and Mailchimp.
Although an open-source platform requires large investments in IT, it allows you to create excellent eCommerce websites with full customization features. Good examples of websites created on these platforms include:
- Porter & York
- Buddhi Baby
A SAAS (software as a service) eCommerce platform is a cloud-based system that is licensed to your enterprise on a subscription basis. It’s user-centric, offers maximum security of data, and can easily be integrated with your CRM systems.
Examples are Shopify Plus, Magento 2, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Merchants using SAAS eCommerce platforms can take advantage of the inbuilt customizable themes, product information management, and marketing capabilities.
Examples of online stores built on SAAS platforms include:
- Neom Organics
- Soul CBD
Headless commerce is an eCommerce solution that separates the user interface (UI) from the technology that runs the online store. It offers flexible features where merchants can customize their APIs and create different experiences for different customers.
Shopify Plus is one of the most popular solutions for headless commerce. It’s an ideal solution for D2C business models.
Examples of successful stores using headless commerce include:
- Oliver Bonas, using a Magento Commerce backend
- Pure Daily Care, using a Shopify backend
Factors to Consider Before You Choose an eCommerce Platform
Before you choose an eCommerce platform, you must consider your:
- Stakeholders input
- Business model
We’ll explore the three factors to help you understand why they matter to you as a decision-maker.
Consider Your Budget Long Term
Factoring in the long-term costs of your budget helps you protect your bottom line.
You may decide that a more expensive platform is not ideal, but going for a cheaper one doesn’t always mean you’ll spend less. You’ll still need some add-on features that may cost more in the long term, such as:
- Email marketing integration
- SEO (search engine optimized) code
- Easy checkout feature
Also, consider the following costs of setup and maintenance.
- Web design. Do you plan to design the website yourself or outsource it?
- Hosting. Will you host on the Shopify Plus platform or use an external domain?
- Custom app. Will you be hiring an Android or iOS developer for a mobile app?
- Programming. Will your site have complex CSS codes and need an additional programmer to develop them?
- Security. How will you defend your site from web-based attacks such as SSL exploits? Will you also be paying for a cybersecurity team?
- Maintenance. What kind of upkeep will you be paying for to keep your site online, especially in light of heavy traffic loads?
Knowing exactly what you’re getting into may help you decide whether it’s cost-efficient and sustainable in the long term.
Consult Your Different Departments
Consulting all departments before you choose an eCommerce platform will allow you to learn about the different challenges the departments face. This means you can align your infrastructure to meet their demands and responsibilities.
For example, the marketing department will need to ensure that the platform can be integrated into the enterprise’s campaign strategies.
IT will need to be consulted on how flexible the features on the platform are and how they can be integrated with the enterprise’s plugins to enable more efficiency.
Consulting with your team will help you figure out what exactly it is you need and will make it easier for you to choose an appropriate platform.
What’s Your Business Model?
Your business model as an enterprise determines your eCommerce platform needs. Are you a B2C company, a D2C business, or a B2B model?
Do the features in your chosen eCommerce platform work alongside your business model?
For example, a B2B company wouldn’t necessarily need a model that focuses on selling products to consumers.
On the surface, the features offered by most eCommerce platforms are quite similar, but they differ in how they are run.
Take a look at the eCommerce platform must-haves for different business models as simplified in this table.
eCommerce Platform Comparison
To achieve a platform that’s in alignment with your business strategies, it’s crucial to understand the top-performing eCommerce platforms and their unique features.
Shopify Plus is an eCommerce platform that’s designed for high-volume enterprise brands. Businesses looking to join the huge players and become high-growth brands are joining this platform.
The following are Shopify Plus’ unique features.
- It can handle massive traffic without downtime
- Fosters international success
- You can run 11 storefronts with one Shopify Plus account
- It allows your dev team full customization control
Examples of Shopify Plus stores include:
- Microfiber Wholesale
- Vosges Chocolate
- Bariatric Fusion
There are two editions of Magento.
The free version, which is an open-source platform, allows brands to configure it with their favorite features. This version is favored by brands heavily invested in IT. However, it’s complex to set up and can have long loading times.
Magento 2 or Magento Commerce is the SAAS paid version.
With its inclusion of a website builder,Magento 2 is preferred by brands with a huge inventory and offers more freedom than the free alternative. However, it’s quite expensive and projects take longer to launch as compared to other platforms.
- Agent Provocateur
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce Commerce is a SAAS eCommerce platform that’s specifically designed for B2C merchants. The platform was formerly known as Demandware until it was acquired by Salesforce.
Though the platform can handle high traffic, the user interface is a little complex.
- Callaway Golf
Impact of Web Design on the Success of an Enterprise
Web design has a direct impact on the success of an online store and how you interact with your customers.
You might have worked out your SEO and social media campaigns, and customers have landed on your online store, but don’t pop the champagne yet; another challenge begins.
How is your design interface? Does it create a positive user experience and present your brand in the best light?A user-centric set-up will turbocharge the sales and performance of your online store with the right colors, fonts, images, and graphics that convince customers to buy. At Pivofy, we design, develop, and maintain ecosystems that are crucial to the functioning of an eCommerce store.
When one company called Welding Store approached us, they wanted an eCommerce solution built from the ground up. So we designed a website for them with many features, including an enhanced navigation strategy.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Creating a web store for my business was a new venture and unknown territory for us, Pivofy has made it a breeze.”
Due to our success, we’ve been voted as the best web designer by Shopify Plus. We’re determined to help high-volume enterprises start new online stores or help migrate already established enterprises to Shopify Plus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should a startup use an eCommerce platform or build a custom solution?
A custom setup may not be appropriate for a business that’s just starting because it requires a huge upfront investment and takes a long time to streamline all the integrations.
However, an eCommerce platform offers security and marketing opportunities that a startup should exploit.
Why does a platform need to be customizable?
A platform needs to be customizable to reflect your brand and convince customers to buy your product. It must also be flexible so that it can be easily changed according to arising business needs.
When should I migrate to Shopify Plus?
If you’re handling large inventory or your products are going viral, you need to migrate to Shopify Plus. The platform can handle massive traffic and has an infrastructure that is geared to wowing the customer as well as helping you thrive.
If you’re not convinced that you’re ready to migrate to Shopify Plus, feel free to contact us and we’ll discuss your needs.