eCommerce was my dream class ever since I started teaching business at an online university. While teaching Business 101 is interesting and fun, I have a nerdy obsession with eCommerce and its enormous worldwide impact. I love diving into the technological features that allow us to push one button and order anything we want. It’s truly one of the most important technological advances in the history of the world.
How could I not be interested in that?
Yet, I was blown away by how little my new students understood about basic eCommerce principles. And the vast majority of them want to own their own business someday. Unless you have a degree in eCommerce or eBusiness, you may not understand the complex world of eCommerce or the vast amount of choices out there. So whether you’re new to eCommerce or a veteran online business owner, take a few minutes to answer a few questions that may lead you towards the right choices for your business.
Are You Using the Right Platform?
It all starts with your online platform. An eCommerce platform is simply the software used to sell your products and/or services. It can be hosted in the cloud or self-hosted. You can install an eCommerce plugin into your website in under five minutes (affordable option) or you can build a platform unique to your business (can be very expensive).
One of the most popular platforms, BigCommerce, has a fantastic list of eCommerce platforms broken down by open source, SaaS (software as a service) and CaaS (commerce as a service). For example, BigCommerce is a good choice for mid-market and enterprise brands while Volusion is aimed at starter stores and hobbyists. The first step in your eCommerce checkup is to make sure you have the right platform for the size of your business and matches your technological capabilities at this time.
What Features Do You Need?
No two eCommerce stores are the same. We all have different budgets, technological skills, team size, and overall goals. The features you need may not be the same as others in the same niche. Additionally, we should always include customer-centric data in our decision processes. For example, 76% of consumers say the “most important characteristic of a website is ease of use” so be sure to choose features that support a customer-friendly experience first.
Take a look at your abandoned cart statistics, payment options, and even copyright security. There are great features that help solve these issues and new features are introduced all the time.
See what your eCommerce platform has to offer and if they don’t have the types of features that fit your need, it’s time to consider changing platforms.
Are You Paying Too Much?
After choosing the right eCommerce platform and the features your business needs, the next question is: are you paying too much?
Remember, these companies are only successful if their users are successful. They don’t make money unless you make money. Competition is fierce which is obviously to your advantage. But it’s not just about how much you’re paying for your eCommerce platform. Think about your entire online operation. As @TEAM 360° points out in an In-Depth Guide to Running the Perfect ECommerce Business, your business model may include costly processes like shipping. For example, you could analyze if shipping items yourself or outsourcing it to an eCommerce fulfillment company is a better choice.
Conduct a cost-comparison from everything including hosting, marketing automation, shipping, and website maintenance.
Is your ROI meeting your expectations? Or is it time to see what other options are cheaper and may have better outcomes? Since we’re all chasing larger profits, it’s always a good idea to understand if there are better, cheaper options available.
Schedule Time for Your eCommerce Checkup Today
I know I’m asking for a lot from you. All of this takes time which could be used marketing, creating new products, or on customer outreach. I completely get it.
But don’t let yourself become complacent or overlook the lightning fast pace of eCommerce innovation. What worked two years ago may not work now. For example, perhaps your customers are buying from their mobiles and want to check out using “guest” instead of signing up to be a customer. This information could completely change what your business needs.
As I talk to excited business students every day, I’m reminded of one main theme: they all want to live a more successful life. And this means building a profitable, sustainable business. Think of your eCommerce checkup as an investment in your future and consider it an essential part of your managing your online business.
It may take some time, but it will definitely be worth it.