insights | 11.01.2021

What type of webstore?

Article topics
  1. Platform type
  2. Webstore performance
  3. Optimisation
  4. mCommerce
  5. Check list
  6. Final thought

Do you want to start trading online? Confused about what to look for in a webstore? Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing the right webstore for your eCommerce business can be daunting. There’s much to consider: which type of platform to use, how customisable will it be, what support level will you need, and what about performance, security and compliance?

Platform type

The first thing to consider is which type of webstore platform will be best suited to your business needs. There are two basic types: software as a service (SaaS) or open source.

SaaS

For independent, smaller and some medium sized retailers an SaaS, ‘ready-made’ approach is often the ideal solution. With SaaS you pay a monthly fee for your webstore which is built using theme templates and plugin modules.

SaaS enables faster development times, trustworthy and robust plugin architecture that can offer optimisation and marketing capabilities, and many of the features that you might expect from more complex and expensive eCommerce platform types.

SaaS webstores, such as Ignite eCommerce and Wix , require relatively little technical expertise to setup and maintain, as all the elements required to build your webstore are ‘off the shelf’.

The advantages are that smaller businesses can have a powerful, lower cost webstore up and running quickly, without having to worry about hosting, maintenance and updates. They are relatively straightforward to develop with some customisation capability.

Open source

The main USP with an open source platform is customisation. If you need functionality that is not available as an SaaS plugin module, a bespoke solution can be written. This can be valuable when it comes to optimising your webstore.

Open source eCommerce solutions are usually third party hosted, which means that your servers are managed by your development partner and are either on-site with your developer or in the cloud using services such as AWS, which offers greater webstore stability and scalability.

An open source webstore costs more to run and maintain than SaaS because of initial development time, regular updates and ongoing maintenance.

Webstore performance

Many webstores don’t perform as well as they could. They can suffer from slow page load, poor conversion rate, fail when demand spikes, or suffer security breaches and compliancy issues. Ensuring that your webstore is high performance, is scalable and trustworthy, will give your customers more outstanding user experiences (UX) and help maintain customer retention.

Being able to offer consumers seamless UX is more important today than ever as omnichannel retail becomes prevalent, with consumers expecting unified shopping experiences—on any device, online or instore.

Because of the additional development cost and lost revenue from poor UX and webstore downtime, ensuring that you have and maintain a high performance webstore is vital for business success.

Speed

Page load speed is the time it takes for page content to fully load on screen. Site speed is slightly different in that it’s how fast a webstore is performing overall. To maximise engagement and conversion rates it’s vital that your webstore is fast on all counts. Not only that, but a slower webstore will rank lower in a Google search than a higher performing one.

The average consumer’s patience with webstore speed is decreasing as attention spans shrink. Just a 1 second delay in page load time reduces page views by 11%, decreases customer satisfaction by 16% and reduces conversions by 7%.

Scalability

Performance isn’t just about speed. An equally important aspect of performance is scalability. Having a webstore that can scale effectively will give consumers continuity of performance. And having a webstore that is able to grow with your business will help maintain outstanding shopping experiences for your customers.

A webstore that doesn’t scale well in terms of being able to cope with sudden increases in demand, such as Black Friday, a super-successful marketing campaign, or as seen recently with the Covid crisis and lockdown, will be a disaster for your business. When spikes in demand happen, your webstore should have the capacity to process the extra traffic and number of transactions to avoid slowing down or even crashing.

Of course, a webstore hobbled by poor scalability will see sales drop, consumers turning to competitors and even damage to brand equity. Not to mention the additional cost of fixing the scaling problem.

As your business grows your webstore should be able to grow to accommodate more customers, more skews, more transactions and a larger logistics operation.

Optimisation

An important consideration when choosing a webstore is its optimisation capabilities. The two main areas to focus on are search engine optimisation (SEO) and conversion rate optimisation (CRO).

SEO

In basic terms, SEO is the process of improving your webstore’s findability in searches. The better visibility your webstore has in search results, the more likely you are to attract consumers. Effectively driving traffic to your webstore is vital for maximising your customer acquisition rate.

SEO is implemented by using keywords in your webstore content, having original content, a fast and reliable webstore, and adhering to Google SEO best practices.

CRO

eCommerce conversion rate is the percentage of consumers who carry out a desired action in your webstore. A desired action can be many things, depending how you define them. The obvious conversion is when a consumer makes a purchase—a sale is of course the ultimate goal. But conversion is also about reducing friction at every point in a shopping journey, so can include optimising elements such as call-to-action, page layout, checkout flow etc.

CRO is implemented by A/B testing particular webstore elements and using tools such as heat maps and live session recordings to evaluate user browsing behaviour to identify and resolve pain points in the user experience.

mCommerce

Mobile commerce (mCommerce) as a total share of global eCommerce sales is rising fast. That’s why it’s vital for new and small eCommerce businesses to ensure that their webstores offer consumers outstanding shopping experiences on any device.

The rise of omnichannel shopping is centred on mobile use so ensuring that your webstore offers unified shopping experiences on all devices is crucial for business success. A webstore that’s optimised for mCommerce conversion will help increase consumer engagement and boost sales.

Businesses with a strong omnichannel ethos retain over 89% of their customers than companies with weak omnichannel strategy. With strong omnichannel customer engagement businesses have seen a 9.5% rise in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for companies with weak omnichannel strategy.

New webstore considerations check list

Mobile commerce (mCommerce) as a total share of global eCommerce sales is rising fast. That’s why it’s vital for new and small eCommerce businesses to ensure that their webstores offer consumers outstanding shopping experiences on any device.

The rise of omnichannel shopping is centred on mobile use so ensuring that your webstore offers unified shopping experiences on all devices is crucial for business success. A webstore that’s optimised for mCommerce conversion will help increase consumer engagement and boost sales.

Businesses with a strong omnichannel ethos retain over 89% of their customers than companies with weak omnichannel strategy. With strong omnichannel customer engagement businesses have seen a 9.5% rise in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for companies with weak omnichannel strategy.

How long will my webstore take to develop?

What’s the timeline from green light to launch? If using SaaS this will be much faster than building an open source webstore.

Will my webstore be fast?

Ask developers what you can expect for page load times and general webstore speed.

Will my webstore cope with spikes in demand?

Ensure that your webstore will not lose performance when demand lifts.

Will the webstore be able to grow with my business?

Find out what you can expect in terms of scaling up—cost and development time.

What level of security and compliance are guaranteed?

You’re looking for Level 1 PCI DSS compliance. An SaaS webstore manages security and compliance automatically. Ask an open source developer about PCI DSS compliance and what security they can guarantee.

To what degree can my webstore be customised?

Be clear with the developer about what your expectations are. Find out what’s possible and what’s not.

What support is available?

Find out what support will you get pre-launch and what level(s) of support is available ongoing and any additional costs?

Will my webstore be integrated?

If you have a brick-and-mortar store you will want your webstore and POS to be unified. Consider 3rd party platform integration too (Etsy, Amazon Marketplace etc.), and 3rd party logistics (drop shipping).

SEO and CRO capabilities?

Being optimised for search and conversion is crucial for customer acquisition, lower friction UX and maximising revenue for bottom line growth. SaaS will have much of this designed into templates with optional optimisation plugins. An open source developer will be able to offer more bespoke optimisation.

What are my webstore’s marketing capabilities?

Email marketing and personalisation capabilities, such as cart recovery emails and personalised product recommendations will help boost conversions and average basket value. Find out what’s on offer.

What training is available and how much does it cost?

Knowing how to run your webstore properly will enable you and your staff to get the best out of it. Some developers offer inhouse training and other will be able to recommend 3rd part providers.

How much will my webstore cost?

Be clear about the cost to launch, ongoing costs and what additional cost can be expected? Beware of hidden costs.

Be clear about the cost to launch, ongoing costs and what additional cost can be expected? Beware of hidden costs.

Choosing the right webstore will help your business flourish by offering customers consistently outstanding shopping experiences and being able to grow and evolve as your business develops.

Now is an ideal time to start selling online, given the impact that the Covid crisis is having on consumer behaviour and online shopping habits. eCommerce has grown significantly in the past six months and shows no signs of slowing down.

Whether you are a new business or a brick-and-mortar business looking to start trading online, get in touch today for a chat with one of our eCommerce experts.

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