An Overview of Global Ecommerce Platforms

Are you are a digital business person keen on gaining an edge, or an entrepreneur looking to study data-driven facts and trends to scale your business? If so, keeping an eye on the current status and dynamics of global e-commerce-platforms is going to be most helpful. Going global is the key to business growth. The fastest growing markets lie beyond traditional jurisdictions. Keeping up demands a better understanding of international e-commerce to let you sell and connect globally.

1. What are E-commerce Platforms?

E-commerce software allows merchants to display product catalogues and conduct transactions online. Think of it as an online shop. Most e-commerce transactions are B2C (business to consumer) with some also supporting more complex B2B (business to business) operations. There are three basic ways to classify the different types of e-commerce platforms: Open-Source, SaaS (Software as a Service). These platforms further classify into two hosting environments. The two types of web hosting environments are cloud hosted and self-hosted. E-commerce platforms like Shopify have advanced technology that offers powerful tools and features to run your online business successfully. Having the tools to manage your business allows you to better focus on selling.

2. Why Use An Ecommerce Platform?

Whether you want to grow your brick-and-mortar branch network, looking to find business management solutions or even a business start-up, your choice of e-commerce software has a significant impact on the profitability and stability of your business. The advantages of using an excellent e-commerce platform are numerous. Here we look at a few of the benefits;

• Exemplary Customer Service

You want an e-commerce platform that will reflect your brand and offer top notch customer service to you and your users. It is crucial that your customers feel that they are getting excellent service and value for money. Many businesses fail not because their products are not good quality, but due to bad customer experience.

• User Friendliness

It is frustrating to trying to navigate sophisticated features and making system changes within their platform. It is tedious and consumes time that you could utilize elsewhere. To avoid this, you need to find a platform that is easy to administrate. A well-developed and designed platform must be easy enough for you and consumers to use. User friendliness makes online shopping experiences pleasurable and will keep users coming back. Pick a product like Shopify that scores high in ease of use.

• Less Downtime

Picking the right platform, one that is functioning at a higher level, will give your website's overall performance a significant boost. You will spare users and clients visiting your e-store from frequent error messages. Downtime and error messages on an e-commerce store prevent buyers from completing their purchases. To make matters worse, this has the effect of causing customers to take their business elsewhere. Having the right e-commerce platform support means you need not spend valuable time trying to troubleshoot your platform. Instead, you can focus on the aspects of your business that go towards improving business and customer experience.

• Enhanced Security

Online security can be a challenge for store owners and users. Data breaches and hacking pose a risk that can bring a business to its knees. It is crucial that you choose a platform that is tried and tested on cybersecurity. When your e-store is secure, customer confidence (and your sales) will keep growing.

3. E-commerce Websites

E-commerce websites, also referred to as online storefronts, allow shoppers to browse through product catalogues and make purchases online. Hosted e-commerce platforms typically include a set of ready to use templates and themes for storefront design. The best e-commerce software for your online businesses depends on your unique requirements. There are many different aspects of an online storefront that different e-commerce products may focus on. Managing more extensive inventories and multiple stores, showcasing numerous versions (e.g. colors and size variants) of the same item, representing digital versus physical products and scalability are some primary considerations when determining product catalogue options.

4. Online Shopping Cart

Similar to an actual supermarket trolley, an online shopping cart allows website visitors to pick products and deposit them in a virtual "shopping cart" before checkout. In addition to gathering products on a list, shopping cart software also does costing that is inclusive of shipping and taxes. Another additional functionality some e-commerce products include is product suggestion, typically provided via analytics. Data derived from customer’s shopping behavior, along with information on trending products, is crucial.

6. Pricing

Monthly or yearly subscriptions for hosted platforms vary depending on features and scalability. It is essential to understand your business requirements, as this will be a critical determining factor when choosing an e-commerce platform. Some of the considerations you need to look at are; current and forecasted needs, the number of e-stores, target market and more. Remember, picking the right platform as opposed to the cheapest, will make a lot more economic sense in the long run.

5. Online Payment Systems

Great e-commerce solutions such as Shopify include in-house payment processing while others integrate third-party payment gateways. Since payment systems handle sensitive customer credit card information, most e-commerce platforms have robust security measures in place.

7. Key E-commerce Platform Features & Capabilities

Here we will see a summary list of key features to look out for when shopping for a great e-commerce platform to take your business to the next level. • Online storefront • Product cataloguing • Online shopping cart • In-house online payment system or integration with a third party payment gateway • Order fulfillment and shipping management • User-friendly merchant interface/dashboard • E-commerce marketing tools • E-commerce business management • Customer behavioral analytics and reporting • Social media Integrations

Final Thoughts

There are many e-commerce platforms out there each claiming to be the best. It is vital that the platform you choose when developing an effective e-commerce strategy for your business can deliver every time.  A customer-oriented platform will help you to keep your users engaged and coming back for more. The right e-commerce solution will maintain a current customer review section, improve your product visibility and create brand awareness.