8 features to look for in any eCommerce platform you choose
Now you know about the options you have to choose an eCommerce platform under various models. It’s time to know about some crucial features to consider in any eCommerce solutions you select from the market. Don’t hesitate to re-consider your choices if your selected solutions lack these features:
1. SEO Friendliness
It can be highly beneficial to rank higher in the search results. You need your customers to find your store while searching for the likes of products that you sell. It’s important that your eCommerce platform offers basic SEO friendly features by default:
- Add a custom domain name
- Update meta tags and meta descriptions
- Add captions and descriptions in images
- Access to the robot.txt file of the platform
- Add canonical tags where required
- Add pagination in product search results
- Convert into SEO Friendly URL structures
- Access to update the XML sitemap
- API integration for Google Analytics tool
2. Mobile friendliness
When 60% of searches happen on mobile, you can’t just ignore your mobile ecommerce prospects. Often time, these searches result in final purchases, and you might just lose them if your site is not mobile-friendly. There are two ways to ensure a mobile friendly eCommerce business:
- Get an eCommerce platform with a mobile responsive theme or template. For example, Shopify. There are tons of mobile responsive themes and templates available for Shopify.
- Get an eCommerce platform that is mobile responsive but also offers native mobile apps. For example, Genstore node.js eCommerce platform comes with native Android and iOS mobile apps out-of-the-box.
3. Security features
One of the best ways to ensure if your chosen platform is secure is by confirming if it supports HTTPs or SLL support. Moreover, it’s must be equipped with PCI-DSS compliant payment solutions, which a standard for secure payment processors. Few of the examples of highly reliable PCI-DSS compliant payment solutions are PayPal, Stripe, Square, WorldPay, Braintree, and SecurePay. The platform must support these payment solutions natively or through customizations.
One more feature that makes eCommerce platforms secure, especially from DDoS attacks, is Google Captcha. You can put the Captcha on different forms on the site and ensure they are not miss-used by hackers or spammer to harm your site.
Check out how this open-cart site is using Captcha to secure its ‘Contact Us’ form. You need a similar feature on your site to secure it from spammers.
4. Platform Scalability
Every eCommerce business hopes to become successful in a niche and later expand its operation to a greater level. You cannot judge the scalability of an eCommerce platform by its mere capacity to handle a large amount of traffic.
It must also possess the abilities to integrate certain APIs, which businesses use to manage large scale implementations. For example, Salesforce CRM integration, RSA archer integration, custom PIMS integration, CDN integration, and so on. Always ensure if your chosen platform can upscale the features as per growing needs and demands.
Here is a screenshot from a custom Magento extension for Salesforce integration. One can simply install this extension and synchronize data from Magento store and Salesforce CRM Products Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Orders, Invoices.
5. Product Management System
The basic function of Product Management System is letting the Admin upload a product and manage the product listing. However, in 2019, you need much more than that. You need advanced eCommerce product management with cutting-edge features out-of-the-box.
- Bulk product upload through CSV and Excel files
- Ability to create different categories and Map products to them
- Ability to map different shipping options with individual products
- High-quality product image upload in bulk
- Advanced product listing based on Wish list, Product Comparison, and Recently Viewed.
- Dynamic catalog filters like sorting, price range, color, size, location, specifications, etc.
- Create product variations and combinations based on color, size and other metrics.Given below is an example of how PrestaShop lets you create bulk product and combinations upload by using a CSV file.
6. Order Management System
Ecommerce is a highly competitive business, and you don’t want your orders to take ages for processing. A competitive order management system uses features like order tracking, email notifications, and shipping service API, to ensure that orders are being processed accurately and on-time.
The OMS needs to communicate with your inventory Management system to ensure the stocks are being updated correctly and only in-stock products are available for purchase. Moreover, it should also be available for integration with popular ERP and CRM solutions through API integration or plugin installation.
For example, a Shopify store owner can integrate Zoho CRM by simply installing the ZOHO plugin. It’s a one-click installation that makes it easy to synchronize your eCommerce store and ZOHO without playing with the codes.
7. Return Management System
Return Management System is yet another crucial feature that takes care of your stores return policies. You cannot compromise with this feature if you want to acquire some happy customers who trust your store. Typical return management features of any eCommerce platform may include:
- Create return rules: Return date limit, products eligible for return, and return charges
- Create return types: Product return, Product exchange, full order refund, partial refund
- Place return request
- Approve/Disapprove return request
- Auto-refund approved returns
- Auto-process approved product exchanges
- Print return address slips
- Print return invoice
- Return status update
- Stock update in synchronization with return status updates
Given below is how Big Commerce manages the returns. It allows the Admin to create different return rules and map them to individual products.
This is how the return console looks like to the Admin. The admin can approve both full refund and partial refund requests as per the store’s policy.
8. Multi-channel Integration
It’s a hectic task to manage a seller account on Amazon and your own eCommerce site at the same time. While you would focus on making some good sales on the marketplace, you also move away from your site. Same happens while doing the vice-versa.
That’s where multi-channel marketplace extension of your eCommerce platform comes handy. To start email is a topic not covered yet, but an integration of your platform with an affordable ecommerce email marketing system is an absolute must to drive people back to your online shop. Preferably that is able to load products and RSS feeds automatically.For example, you can integrate your Amazon seller dashboard on your eCommerce platform and synchronize your store with your Amazon seller account. Now, the products on your site get instantly synchronized with your Amazon product listing. Not just that, it also synchronizes your inventory and orders on both the channels.
Using the same way, you can synchronize all your seller accounts on multiple marketplaces with your site. Ultimately, you will be selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Google Shopping, and on your site at the same time without doing any extra work.
For example, this is how you can extend a PrestaShop store to synchronize with your Google Shopping listing.
You can control the feeds and make sure all your store products are listed automatically on the Google Shopping Catalogue.
Over to you: choose wisely
I have not gone deep in the generic eCommerce features as anyone can identify them with just a mere look. However, the features explained here go way deep, and many popular eCommerce platforms do not even offer them out-of-box. You need to carry out comprehensive testing to judge the platforms correctly, and it’s probably the best way.
There are adequately many options accessible for building an eCommerce store, and possibly this is one of the biggest challenges in choosing an eCommerce platform. Rather than predicting, or trusting a popular name alone, you should consider using the criteria I have highlighted in this article. Narrow down your choices based on the given aspects and ultimately you will have the right mix working perfectly for you.