The e-commerce industry has been rapidly growing for years, and was exponentially accelerated by covid. Now, every company from large businesses to SMBs are needing to enhance their online presence or face being pushed out by competitors. Jack Scullin, Director at Nogin, talks about the most important factors when choosing an e-commerce platform.
While many brick-and-mortar businesses tragically crumbled in 2020, those that survived gripped tightly to their online presence.Â And now, despite a return to normalcy, statistics show the demand for online shopping isn’t going away. The same businesses that relied on their e-commerce platforms as a lifeline during the pandemic will need to continue to invest in their online stores to stay competitive.Â Â
Between 2020 and 2021, Americans spent $1.7 trillion online â€” a 55% increase from the two years before COVID. Consumers have embraced the convenience of online shopping, and experts forecast that U.S. retail e-commerce sales will grow an additional 16.1% by the end of 2022.Â
Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized brands that have steadily grown are beginning to stall out, unable to profitably scale their e-commerce businesses due to high maintenance costs with systems integrators, expensive 3PL e-commerce fulfillment challenges, rising customer acquisition costs or inflexible site architecture.Â
The workaround to this problem is upgrading to an enterprise e-commerce platform, which can feel daunting for a small to midsize business. To help, here are five things to consider when looking for the right enterprise e-commerce solution.Â
All enterprise e-commerce platforms have unique pricing options for the many necessary features that businesses expect from enterprise solutions. Most platforms start with a monthly fee, while others may charge a percentage of your revenue each month. Some platforms appear to be low-cost, but they charge thousands of dollars in monthly licensing, maintenance, app and additional fees.Â
Here are several potential fees to consider when switching to a new e-commerce platform.Â
E-commerce Hosting and Domain Name Fees
Domains are relatively inexpensive and cost, on average, between $2-$20 per year. Keep in mind you may have to buy an already-taken domain name from a private seller, which can be expensive.Â
Once you register your domain name, you’ll have to find a web host. BigCommerce and Shopify offer web hosting as part of their subscription package to avoid third-party hosting or self-management. If you want to host your own ecommerce store, you’ll pay anywhere from $47 â€“ $539.99 per month for dedicated hosting.Â Â
Enterprise businesses that have thousands of daily visitors may pay upwards of $1,000/month for hosting due to increased system requirements.Â
If you’re using an open-source or traditional platform, expect to pay maintenance fees.Â Your website’s traffic and revenue will determine how much you’ll have to pay. Expenses will increase as your brand grows, and the problems require more technical expertise. Mid-sized brands can expect to pay $10,000 or more monthly in systems integrator fees to add the features they need to promote growth while ensuring their e-commerce stores are running smoothly. Many SaaS and enterprise e-commerce platforms include maintenance fees as part of a fixed monthly fee.Â
UX Change Fees
You can integrate new features and designs to improve the online shopping experience for your customers. Big e-commerce retailers like Amazon are constantly adding new components to optimize the user experience and enhance product page optimization. You can utilize premium themes that may range from $60-200 each. As consumer trends and behaviors change, you’re going to want to update your UX design or replace it with another system, which can cost thousands â€” or even millions â€” of dollars.Â
Software and App Costs
Every enterprise e-commerce platform has unique SaaS and application solutions for its clients. You can leverage various software packages or install applications on your online marketplaces. Shopify Plus offers a selection of premium apps you can install to improve your stores, while others bundle all available upgrades into monthly retainer fees. Remember to carefully review what SaaS, integrations and Setapps potential e-commerce platforms include and which ones require additional costs to license.Â
Brands with huge product catalogs and require extensive customization can expect to pay expensive setup and monthly costs for software and apps. Setup charges can range from $5,000+ and up due to coding and development support and a few thousand in ongoing monthly fees.
Payment Processing Fees
Your store’s checkout and payment processing options are critical to increasing conversions and lowering checkout abandonment rates. Make sure to carefully review payment processing cost options when upgrading to an enterprise platform, which can significantly cut into profit margins. Payment processing fees vary depending on region, currency, and other factors. Here is a breakdown of common payment gateways:
- PayPal: 2.9% + $0.30 for transactions over $10
- Stripe: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- Authorize.net â€“ 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction + $25 monthly fee.
If you’re shopping for a new e-commerce platform, security should be high on your priority list. Retail is the most targeted sector for cyber attacks, and you are responsible for protecting user data from malicious threats. Prioritizing data security protects not only your customers but also your brand, and it’s a lesson you don’t want to have to learn the hard way.Â
Target Corporation had to pay an $18.5 million settlement after a 2013 data breach that affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts. The cost of a data breach not only has severe financial implications but will also impact a brand’s reputation and customer trust.
Protection is especially paramount if your brand uses on-premise or cloud-hosted platforms. SaaS platforms often provide security and PCI compliance as part of monthly retainers. Self-hosted or on-premise platforms usually require brands to handle data security independently.
When assessing whether you think an e-commerce platform will sufficiently protect customer data, you should examine the following security components:
An SSL certificate confirms customer details are stored safely and securely. Data is processed through multiple servers to encrypt user information. The encrypted material, including names, passwords, and email addresses, is unreadable to hackers to prevent malware attacks.Â
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
HTTPS is a protocol that securely transfers information between web browsers and a brand’s website. HTTP websites do not have encryption, so data is viewable by anyone. Google penalizes HTTP websites, and savvy users avoid shopping on sites without data encryption. A small lock icon appears next to HTTPS websites to confirm it is under a secure connection.Â
Always remember to install a firewall on your website. A Firewall is a network security system that secures connections between different networks. A cyber threat professional can install firewalls to block harmful threats while allowing regular users secure site access.Â
The most important types of firewalls for e-commerce websites are application gateways and proxy firewalls. Application gateways only allow safe information to pass while blocking out potentially harmful sources. Proxy firewalls limit the applications a network can support while filtering messages at an application layer to protect network resources.Â
One of the top reasons you might upgrade to an enterprise e-commerce platform is more flexibility. A website design is a top concern for many businesses because it should align with a brand’s identity and directly translate into the user shopping experience. More importantly, integrating and testing different site elements and offers will improve customer experience and increase e-commerce sales. Here are some main things you should look for when selecting a customizable e-commerce platform.Â
Themes and Templates That Match Your Ideal Aesthetic
Most enterprise platforms offer a selection of themes or templates. They do not require extensive CSS or HTML coding and can provide a good starting point. It’s crucial to browse and preview an e-commerce platform’s library of paid and free themes. If you don’t like the selection of themes, find another e-commerce platform with better options. As you customize your store, you wantÂ a theme that aligns with your general design aesthetic, so you don’t have to pay for a ton of development support to create your ideal shopping experience.Â
Headless Platforms For Maximum Flexibility
You can experiment with a trial account and upload filler content to preview how your potential store will look. The best options are headless e-commerce platforms for customization. They have separate frontend systems (head) from the backend to allow developers maximum design flexibility.Â
Headless e-commerce platforms store and deliver content without frontend constraints from themes and templates. You should have maximum freedom to create your ideal online shopping experience, while content managers can easily modify layout, design and copy from frontend applications without backend development support.Â
Superior Project Management Systems That Empower Your Team
Review what the project management system will look like on any potential e-commerce platform. Admins will utilize the project management system to examine essential functionalities and features, including bulk product upload, categorization, merchandising, dynamic filters and shipping options. The flexibility to A/B test different elements will help brands determine the optimal user experience to improve customer satisfaction, lower bounce rates and increase conversions.Â
4. Omnichannel Infrastructure
You’ll need to migrate to an e-commerce platform with an omnichannel infrastructure. It will synchronize all your e-commerce channels to nurture visitors and effectively guide them down your conversion funnel. The best enterprise ecommerce platforms have a unified dashboard to give admin users a complete overview of all their customer touchpoints, including offline, digital, social and email channels.Â
Unified Shopping Experience
Omnichannel infrastructure will help your brand create a seamless and unified shopping experience. Whether customers begin their shopping experience offline, on social media, or through a direct website visit, your brand can deploy effective correspondence from the first to the last interaction. Best of all, it will increase customer retention and acquisition by deploying the right marketing content at the right time.Â
Higher Average Order Values and Better Messaging
Omnichannel commerce allows users to start shopping on one device and pick up where they left off on another. It makes the purchase process easier for users, and you can continue to engage with customers through email, text, website pop ups or push notifications to prompt visitors to convert. The cross-channel capabilities can enable your brand to offer upgrades, upselling, cross-selling or discounting offers based on customer engagement.Â
Increase Profit Margins and Move More Inventory
Once your brand is on an omnichannel platform, it can easily manage and move inventory between physical and digital locations. For instance, brands like Walmart and Best Buy allow in-store shoppers to browse online inventory. They ship items directly to customers or different stores for pickup.Â
Since you have a unified view of your inventory, you can seamlessly create promotional messaging and engage customers to sell more products at different touchpoints. You can use an omnichannel platform to experiment with separate product listing and retail pricing strategies to build a better customer experience.Â
Personalization is one of the essential components of any e-commerce business. When customers shop in person, they have the luxury of chatting with employees to identify which products are best for them. When it comes to e-commerce, your business can leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, marketing automation and other tactics to create personalized shopping experiences based on each unique customer.Â
The research proves personalization increases customer loyalty, satisfaction and purchasesOpens a new window :
- Personalized email campaigns generate six times higher transaction rates.Â
- 88% of U.S. marketers reported measurable improvements due to personalization; half recorded a lift greater than 10%.
- 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences.
- 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.
Dynamic Messaging with Advanced Customer Segmentation
You should look for dynamic platforms with advanced microtargeting and customer segmentation. Active platforms incorporate AI and machine learning to appropriately recommend and match customers to products based on many factors, including:
- Demographics: age, location, gender, etc.Â
- Context: shopping device type, time of day, weather and location.
- Behavior: recently browsed items, search history and products in abandoned carts.Â
- Psychographics: interests, hobbies, etc.Â
Better Customer Loyalty and Experience
Curated product recommendations and promotions improve customer engagement. Catered options lower decision fatigue and pair customers with products they are most likely to buy. AI and machine learning will also prompt customers to engage in loyalty programs.Â
As customers purchase products, you can deploy personalized rewards, loyalty points or discounts on similar products that align with their behavior. Continued engagement through dynamic messaging and notifications will enable your brand to stay at the forefront of each shopper’s mind.Â
Beat the Competition and Increase Conversions
A personalized shopping experience will help differentiate your brand from competitors. More dynamic, engaging content and product recommendations that align with each shopper will lower bounce rates and cart abandonment. Personalization also ensures customers have accurate pricing and shipping information based on their unique IP addresses.Â
Personalized recommendations aligning with shopping behavior will increase repeat purchases. You could also set up workflows based on user engagement. For instance, you could send popup messages or time-sensitive offers if a user is about to leave the website. Or you could launch personalized messaging via email, social media ads and other touchpoints to push visitors to convert based on unique visitor behavior.
Choosing the right enterprise e-commerce platform can make the difference between thriving and dying for retailers today. Despite the tremendous demand for online shopping, the direct-to-consumer landscape has become increasingly competitive. More than ever, this means brands need smart solutions to elevate the consumer experience, boost conversions and drive sustainable growth, propelling their business into the next era of e-commerce.
What do you think are the most important factors while investing in an e-commerce business? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedIn Opens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!Â
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