Ecommerce Platforms are the basis of many online business activities. They allow entities to host their storefronts online and offer services and products to customers. The platforms are of two types; hosted and self-hosted. Hosted means that their approved vendor plugins and extensions are relatively small but their vendor support is quite strong. Self-hosted can be customized, scaled, open source but require technical know-how for smooth and easy use and maintenance.
An ecommerce platform you purchase should incorporate the most basic features. These features are divided into 5 broad categories. These are marketing or merchandising, product catalogs, order processes, multi-channel support and the platform.
- Marketing and Merchandising
Ecommerce platforms offer different marketing and merchandising tools. These tools include; discounts, promotions, and coupons. Personalizing customer experiences through the display of relevant and recommendations products and services, increasing conversions and use of the merchant driven rules for better customer deliveries.
Offering better product visualization and management aids e.g. 3D views. Other store display management tools are used to customize websites to better showcase the entities products, brands and optimize customer experience. SEO providing the ability to drive traffic, management of abandoned carts for future reference by the customer. Product reviews and sales information is also included in this feature.
- Product Catalog
Different platforms offer different product catalogs. Knowledge of your specific needs is essential in defining these catalogs. Some of the tools in this section include;
- Intangible products- offers a functionality that allows purchase and sale of intangible products e.g. subscriptions.
- Search and filter- enable the consumer to find the specific product through search, improved navigation or sorting techniques.
- Configurations- each customer wants the same product but with different features. This enables them to select a product of their choice.
Content management is an essential tool in every platform. It gives administrators the ability to adjust or update products, prices, information and any other content on the site.
- Order Process
It is the most fundamental of all features on a platform. They develop and ensure smooth flow of customer transactions while on the entities e-commerce site.
It determines and conducts inventory management in real time. It has the ability to show or display a product by location when necessary. Products can be seen and viewed in real time. After an order is made the order management tool ensures proper and timely processing of the orders.
Better shipping options and better check out processes, for goods and services using the site. This depends on the amount of time taken and the costs to be incurred.
- Multi-channel support
It refers to the ability of the platform to provide online business features for convenience of the customers. Some of these services include;
B2B transaction features- these features are valuable in such kind of transactions as they enable better management for partners and of partners, invoicing and pricing of products, contract management and other issues pertaining to the transactions.
Integration to and with third parties enables syncs and integration of your entities products to retailers e.g. Amazon. It simplifies the selling process through channels of a third party.
Customer service enables service teams and customer interactions. It provides a shopping platform on the customers’ devices. It includes social commerce done using the social media platform. It may provide or use the integrated tools that support the social platform.
Unified Experience is the aim of each and every ecommerce site. The experience should be seamless for all customers regardless of the channels being used to shop or conduct transactions. This is important in any customer service and is enhanced through the presence of a store locator on the platform.
This is the base on which all the features and processes to be run on the site are developed, edited and controlled. The smooth functioning of these features means progressive and maximum experience for the consumer.
Administration is one of the features that give access to editing and control elements of the site. These can be used to edit product catalogs, marketing information, geographical locations etc.
The platform offers reporting features that indicate challenges faced by the customer and better ways of solving them. Analytics measures, monitors and evaluates the goals and objectives of the site developed on the platform. It assesses the success level of the site on the platform.
User management feature offers the customers the ability to configure, customize and update their information. Security features implemented ensure prevention of malicious attacks including fraud. Their scalability is measured and assured in the platform.
Performance and reliability determine the internationalization of any business. The ability to ensure internationalization of business entity services is an added advantage in the use of a certain e-commerce website.
Oracle ecommerce platform has an adaptive personalization engine that drives and designs dialogues and customer interactions. It personalizes the content of the entity for easier access by customers and to reach the more customized or target segments. It continuously ensures customer profile updates according to recent or current interactions with the customer.
Navigation and search factors are simplified through the use of a keyword, rank level control, and online dictionary i.e. an inbuilt thesaurus. It provides a new customer or user with guidance and offers a summary of their searches using available data.
Customer behavior is monitored and analyzed through it reporting and analytics. Information gathered is integrated with the analytics. It provides insight into customer shopping patterns and other influencing metrics.
Integrations are highly accelerated to ensure flexibility and to minimize costs. This promotes performance and improves on the scalability of the site. It creates efficiency in the expansion to multisite and multichannel. It offers internationalization through the expansion of multicurrency environment.
Template designs can be customized and tailored to fit the site being developed. The Magento Connect store offers you options of already designed templates by third parties. This clearly indicates the integration of Magento and third parties including ThemeForest.
Management inventory at Magento enables modifications such as updates and other changes to be implemented. The feature allows you to sell products that can be downloaded, assign product attributes in an unlimited manner, moderate tags, and product reviews. It gives you total control over the developed website.
SEO when using Magento is automatically configured to suit your needs. It enables you to easily market your products with requiring assistance from other marketing tools. The add-ons and email marketing can be used unless you want otherwise.
Customization of the payment process can be done to suit the business. Shipping, checkouts and payments can be easily done through any means integrated into the business entity systems.
Security is top notch and assured. Magento has a security center whose sole responsibility is to ensure the security of your website.
Selection of the best ecommerce platform for your enterprise is highly dependent on your needs and the features you are looking for in the platform. The information provided will assist you in selecting the best enterprise ecommerce platform solution.