Establishing a robust ecommerce presence has become a priority among all B2C and many B2B companies and with good reason.
By 2018, it’s expected that online sales in the U.S. will grow to $414 billion, a 57% increase from the actual $263 billion generated in 2013. But despite the optimistic forecast for retailers, executives, marketers, and IT departments face a barrage of concerns when it comes to managing their ecommerce operations.
In a study released by global management consulting and technology services firm Accenture, 36.3% of “e-tailers” surveyed indicated that they plan to replace their current ecommerce platform within the next 12 to 24 months. If you’ve been charged with managing your retail company’s online sales, you should consider the following factors before choosing a new ecommerce platform.
Home Depot. Anthem, Target. These days, we’re all too familiar with what happens to a brand when consumer privacy is compromised. When considering a new ecommerce platform, the most important question retail executives need to answer is whether or not your company plans to store customer payment information or transfer this information over to a PCI compliant processor like Authorize.Net or CyberSource.
While there are numerous decisions that your company will need to make when it comes to securing your site, protecting your customers’ privacy should top the list.
As the most important touchpoint your customer will have with your retail brand online, your ecommerce site is only as good as its ability to handle spikes in traffic. In order to avoid a poor buying experience and reduce shopping cart abandonment, it’s important to consider questions like these:
- What is the maximum number of visits our site needs to support during peak times?
- How many orders do we expect to process in an hour, day, and week?
- How quickly does our home page, landing page, etc. take to load?
By planning ahead for increased traffic, you’ll be able to choose an ecommerce solution that will scale-up to meet increased demand from customers. Load balancing and DNS traffic management are areas where your provider should be able to provide insight into their approach.
When it comes to selling goods and services online, not all product catalogs are equal. While considering your next ecommerce platform, be sure to evaluate the flexibility and limitations of how product data is handled.
Today’s top ecommerce applications like Demandware offer customized product catalogs. Nevertheless, it’s important to take the time to determine how your products or services will be categorized so that you can easily cross-promote these items in multiple sections of your site.
3rd Party Integration
Any ecommerce platform comes with”core” functionality and features which differ depending on the platform chosen. What distinguishes one site from another lies within the integration with 3rd parties that add features to the platform.
The ability to target customers by geographic location, the ability to learn their habits as they shop so you can market to them more effectively, and the ability to personalize email based on their shopping behavior are just a few of the types of integration that can mean the difference between selling a few products and truly developing that one-to-one experience with your customers.
From site navigation and page layout to branding and mobile applications, design is a fairly broad bucket to consider. According to VeoPix, 94% of a user’s first impressions are design-related. Especially with mobile ecommerce growing ($119 billion is forecast for ’15), simplicity and agility have become the hallmarks of a well-designed ecommerce strategy. The user experience has never been more important.
Reporting & Analytics
We live in a world of “big data”. In order for your company to meet the demands of your customer and adjust your online marketing strategy accordingly, your ecommerce platform should include comprehensive reporting and analytics features so that members of your team will be able to measure your business goals and objectives.
It should go without saying that the decision to replace your existing ecommerce platform is a monumental task that presents plenty of considerations not outlined here. Like any business undertaking, the process of mapping out your ecommerce strategy should start with clearly defined goals, measurable key performance indicators and an understanding of your target audience.