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Smarter Action Plan: 10 things to look for in an eCommerce platform

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

According to Australia Post research, the increasing demand for online shopping due to COVID-19 pushed yearly growth of eCommerce use to 23.4% in the 12 months to 31 August 2021. With a society learning to live with the virus and a general change in buying habits, this trend is likely to continue. The days of small businesses pondering whether to jump boots-and-all into eCommerce are well and truly over. The question now is how to make the leap.

Man making online payment for purchase using his mobile phone. Mobile screen close up.

An online presence is essential for any small business, but it doesn’t end there – you might need to consider whether you could sell online as well. If the answer is yes, your choice of eCommerce platform can have very real implications for your future success.

When it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform, there are some important questions to consider. What are your average sales volumes and busy cycles? How many customers do you have? What are their service and support expectations? What payment services do your customers use? And what are their delivery expectations?


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Smarter Business Action Plan: 10 things to look for in an eCommerce platform

When it comes to selecting the best eCommerce solution for your business, it really comes down to knowing what you want.

1. Document your eCommerce strategy

Before you start comparing platforms, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you need and what your customers expect. Will your customers be OK with having to register an account, or subscribe to a service? Do you need functionality to offer regular discounts or promotions? What payment options do your customers want – such as credit card, Google Pay or buy now, pay later (BNPL)? Having a clear plan up front avoids compromise later if the necessary feature isn’t available.

2. Create a shortlist of eCommerce platforms based on your strategic requirements

With so many options out there, your documented strategy should help you to narrow down the search. Each eCommerce platform may offer a different mix of features, so prioritise your requirements to separate the essential features from the merely nice to have.

3. Explore the available web design templates

The look and feel of your website can have a big impact at every stage of the customer journey. Most eCommerce platforms will have a library of web design templates you can customise to suit your brand as well as an eCommerce website builder. Investigate the complexity of the website builder to make sure it matches the skill level of the person tasked with creating the website.

4. Look for multiple payment and delivery options

Each customer will have their own preference when it comes to making payments, from using online services like PayPal or BNPL services like Afterpay, or entering a credit card in a secure payment gateway. Customers also look for merchants that provide several options for shipping and delivery.

5. Determine if it will work with your other payment and accounting systems

Whichever payment options you choose to offer customers, you also want to make processing those payments easy for you. A payment solution like Tyro can integrate with 300-plus point-of-sale providers and any Australian bank account. Your payment systems should also make it easy for you to issue refunds or credits, such as when goods need to be returned.

6. Investigate the platform’s inventory management features

Managing payments is fairly simple with modern tools, but managing stock can be more complicated. What happens when an item is out of stock? Is it easy to add or edit large inventories without lots of data entry? Your eCommerce platform should keep you on top of your stock levels at any given time, so you always know when it’s time to boost supply.

7. Find out how the platform captures and presents eCommerce data

Data plays a more important role than ever before in helping companies better understand their customers and the markets they operate in. To stay competitive, ensure your eCommerce platform has some capability for collecting and analysing customer and business data to reveal opportunities, identify issues and improve the customer experience. It’s also important to learn how to securely manage customer data.

8. Browse the available support articles and tutorials

Most eCommerce platforms have a support hub with hundreds of articles, videos and training guides to help you learn how to use the various features, install additional plugins or troubleshoot problems.

9. Check the platform can withstand surges in customer traffic

No matter how small your business, your eCommerce strategy should always factor in the possibility of sharp traffic surges – or performance can suffer during your busiest sales period. The right eCommerce platform should be able to scale up and down the hosting infrastructure that powers it to avoid becoming unreliable when you need it most.

10. Test how easy or complex the eCommerce platform is to use

Not everyone is a tech expert. Even if you are, the rest of your team may not be. Check how easy it will be to tweak the website once it’s up and running – from updating the homepage, to adding new blogs or products.

Hopefully now you’ve got a good handle on what you need to create a great eCommerce site for your business. If you’d like more information, download our Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing or read our quick guide on payment options to increase your revenue.

Not sure you’ve got the time to create your own eCommerce website? Telstra Business Website Services can do it for you.

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