e-Commerce Ascension Series: Fundamental Features (III)
The key to creating a successful e-Commerce product is to have the right features for your website. Let’s dive deep into what features are must-haves and which are just nice to have. Making this distinction will facilitate your journey to achieving your goals.
This article will list the main features I consider to be quintessential to building a complete e-Commerce platform.
The process should kickstart with a planning phase in which all the technical solutions are discussed and agreed upon to give the development team a clear understanding of the project. This should include aspects regarding all the technologies that will be used, all the features required by your desired outcome, and everything that might arise in further discussions along the development process. You want to have a complete picture before you build the platform so the structure you build it upon is as stable and suitable as possible.
By following these guidelines, both you and the developers accurately estimate all the resources required by the project at the start of the road so that you won’t get unexpected significant changes throughout the journey.
After deciding what resources will be used, it’s time to choose what third-party integrations are necessary for your platform’s success and which providers are suitable for your business. By making this step in this phase, you get enough time to negotiate and sign the partnerships with the providers, so everything will be ready when you launch the website. Moreover, you have extra time to decide on the best offer, so you won’t go with the first provider you find due to time constraints.
Getting internal resources and the third-party integrations decided upon allows the stakeholders to centralize all the information and create an accurate timeline for the project, which will be used as a benchmark across the whole journey. This timeline will allow for additional planning for any activities related to the live release. It will help coordinate the third-party agreements to avoid delays from the project’s externalized tasks. Moreover, this timeline will include an approved final budget for the whole project.
As I promised, I will go over the essential features all e-Commerce websites must have to stay competitive. Keep in mind that even though these are the general features you want for your project, you should discuss these with your tech partners to make sure they fit into your business model.
59.16% of all website traffic was from mobile devices in 2022 (according to statista.com), which means that more than half of your customers browse your shop from hand-held devices. A top priority for e-Commerce platforms is ensuring clients get the whole desktop experience on mobile devices. There are more options, such as mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized sites. Still, responsive design is the best fit because it grants more flexibility in designing your website and making changes. Moreover, it bypasses the constraints of detecting a specific device or browser to optimize the experience that the other options put on your website development process.
Search Engine Optimization
This step is usually looked over in the development process and hurts the business. People prefer to leave SEO for the period when the platform is already up and running. Still, to allow SEO wizards to do their job correctly, developers should think of the platform with SEO features in mind. Some aspects that should be covered are URL structures, Internal Results indexes, Title tags, meta and alt descriptions, and mobile optimization. Simply put, having these features will increase the probability of your website being listed in the first ten results on Google. Proper SEO allows your platform’s traffic to skyrocket due to the fact that the results on the first page have 92% more traffic than all the other results.
These allow you to automate most of the tasks in brick-and-mortar stores, over-consume human resources, and are usually prone to human error, costing companies huge profits. Moreover, these integrations are scalable, meaning they accomplish the task, whether one client or 10 000 clients placing an order.
A successful e-Commerce website should have:
- Payment integrations, which make online payment possible;
- WMS integrations, which allow you to manage better and keep track of your warehouse stock;
- ERP integrations help you keep track of all the moving parts of the supply chain and centralize all the business functions, such as finances and accounting;
- CRM integrations that facilitate your interaction with your past, present, and future clients by creating a dashboard of all the communications, negotiations, and deals;
- Communication gateways integrations that automate communication with the clients by setting up automated messages for order confirmation, newsletter promotions, and transactional messages such as invoices;
- Shipping integrations create a communication channel between your business and your shipping partners. They save you time by connecting your orders to the transporters and notifying them in real-time about upcoming packages.
- Reporting and Analysis integrations create powerful visual graphics centralized in a dashboard, allowing you to collect and interpret data about your business’ performance.
Nevertheless, you should always consult with your tech partners before deciding what features best fit your needs. I hope you now have a better understanding of what features are fundamental to an e-Commerce website.