Ecommerce, for all its great conveniences and benefits, is still a young industry. Finding the right path to run a business online can take up a lot of time and resources. If you’re currently using a platform that is taking up a lot of your focus and diverting from your goals, then maybe it’s time to consider finding a new one that takes care of the heavy lifting for you and leaves you the time to do what you do best – run your business.
It can be a difficult task to find a platform that can both free you from the hassles of constant maintenance while also giving you the independence to make your own decisions. Most platforms that offer extensive customization are also self-hosted, and therefore require an entire infrastructure and development team to maintain. The way we see it, there are five major factors that merchants should consider as their top priorities when choosing a platform. And for us, we feel that the best option time and again is Shopify Plus. Why? Let’s take a look.
For many eCommerce platforms, such as Magento or Weebly, security is a big concern, as you have to build and maintain your own security infrastructure in order to protect your site. If you’re looking to become certified PCI DSS Compliant, the gold standard security certification for the industry, then you’ll have to dedicate a team of developers to build your site in a way that meets these requirements.
Security always has to be a top priority for eCommerce merchants, with 1 in 5 small businesses victimized by fraud each year, the threat is echoed in consumer’s concerns. According to the Nielsen Company, 37% shoppers in the US do not trust online retailers with their credit card information, and the path to recovery after a breach can be long and painful.
That is why PCI compliance is so important. When considering a platform, you should settle for nothing less than a program that meets Level 1 PCI DSS compliance – which is essentially the same level of online security as a bank – shielding you and your customers from the risk of online fraud.
The ability to support a heavy influx of visitors on your site is another crucial feature. When considering a fully-hosted platform, uptime is the key benchmark of success. Many platforms leave hosting up to you, meaning that you’d have to have the server space and a dedicated team of developers working around the clock to maintain site uptime, especially for major shopping holidays, such as Black Friday.
Just as with security, you should be setting your standards high. Your platform should boast a 99.9% average uptime for its merchants, even during heavy rush periods. This means that you don’t have to worry about your site crashing from traffic overload, so you can still sell when the going gets hot.
Adding power and versatility to your store can offer you new and exciting ways to customize and empower your website. Your platform should feature a robust API that allows you to integrate new programs and features.
Some big name services already have built in integrations, such as SAP and NetSuite. This makes it easy to integrate your current ERP, CRM, or any other systems you required for your business. Your platform also shouldn’t require a massive overhaul of your business functions; it should meet you halfway.
Increased Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is rapidly becoming one of the crown jewels of the eCommerce movement. Offering real-time interaction with current and potential customers helps merchants to be as responsive as possible to market trends.
A great example is User Generated Content applications. UGC apps allow merchants to simultaneously interact with their market on social media while also allowing them to share their experiences with your products and your brand. Indeed, 65% of consumers confess to seeking out UGC prior to making a purchase, choosing to trust other customers for their buying advice.
By featuring your products on social media, you can easily convert social media engagement to sales by driving customers to your website. Evocative, a new program by Nextopia, is a great example of an integrated social commerce platform that you can utilize with your store. By allowing you to feature your products right on your customer’s social media feeds, such as Instagram, you can take your engagement to another level.
Probably the most valuable feature of any platform, reliability gives you peace of mind. A fully-hosted solution should maintain a sterling record for site stability and bug fixes, and should offer 24/7 support. Providing customized assistance and helping to monitor and maintain daily business functions to help prevent conflicts before they start is the best way to keep your business running the way it should run. And it’s the only way to maintain your website.
So if you’re looking to find a new platform, these 5 factors should be your most important considerations, and there only a few platforms available that can check off every box. As one of the fastest growing eCommerce platforms out there, Shopify Plus is one of them. If you’re looking for a platform that will do the heavy lifting for you while still giving you the independence you want, then we highly recommend you check them out. You can have your store up and running in a single day!