Have you considered an online storefront for your business? It’s a well-known concept that is gaining support due to the estimated 2.14 billion online purchases made worldwide. Certainly, today’s entrepreneurs need an e-commerce platform as part of their bundle package.
An e-commerce platform can assist your commercial enterprise in helping clients in engaging with your brand. However, launching a successful e-commerce business will require various decisions and steps that must be made at the right time. So, the question is: how exactly do you launch a platform? This guide is meant to assist with the entire process. Read on to learn more!
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- What Is an E-Commerce Platform?
- Top 3 E-Commerce Platforms
- E-Commerce Market Trends
- E-Commerce Development Platforms
- Essential Features of an E-Commerce Platform
- Things to Consider
- 4 Steps to Develop an E-Commerce Platform
- How to Monetize Your E-Commerce Platform
- Idea Maker’s Experience In E-Commerce Development
What Is an E-Commerce Platform?
An e-commerce platform is software that allows users to conduct business by buying and selling goods and services online. In essence, a customer should be able to find products on an e-commerce platform, browse them using a cart, and then pay for them.
Top 3 E-Commerce Platforms
Whether you run a small online shop or a big company, e-commerce platforms are essential in today’s world. The top 3 e-commerce platforms on the market are listed below.
Amazon has become a major player in the e-commerce market since its founding in 1994. It is the market leader in online sales and is unlikely to slow down in the immediate future. In 2018, sales from third-party sellers accounted for over 50 percent of all Amazon sales.
One reason for Amazon’s success is the fact that it saves users time by eliminating any extra steps involved in the purchasing process. It also allows sellers to create an online store and affiliate programs for their products. If you are trying to develop an online marketplace, Amazon should absolutely be your inspiration.
eBay is one of the top e-commerce platforms which prides itself as a trading and global online auction company. It has been around since 1995 as a marketplace where people can sell goods and services, buy items from other users, or both.
With navigation options that make it easy for customers to shop around, eBay runs on a simple business model: sellers list items for sale and buyers bid to buy them. If you wish to develop an e-commerce site like eBay, you should first study its tool selection to help you run your business smoothly.
Etsy, the world’s leading handmade marketplace, is a trusted destination for craftspeople and artisans. As an e-commerce platform that allows artists to sell their products directly to consumers, Etsy has become a central part of many artists’ businesses since 2005.
This platform lets you sell vintage items and artistic creations. It also rewards volume sellers with low prices and is low-cost and low-risk. If you intend to build an e-commerce store, Etsy’s feature helps you find inspiration to engage with customers remarkably.
E-Commerce Market Trends
The e-commerce market is quickly expanding as more people regularly shop online. It has exceeded its market size value of $10.36 trillion since 2010, and is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 14.7 percent through 2027. Here are the key trends that shape the future of e-commerce:
The global Internet retail sales market has increased from digital storefronts, online shopping, and sales made through computers and smartphones. In fact, nearly 19 percent of all retail sales worldwide in 2021 were made online.
COVID-19 has also led to an upsurge in online shopping because it is easy to buy things online. People use their smartphones more than before since they are always connected to the Internet. As the need arises, numerous e-commerce companies proliferate.
Of course, with this growth comes more competition for customers and retailers alike. As more companies enter the market, they can compete with those using traditional methods. With online shopping, it becomes more difficult for businesses to capture market share.
Environmental issues are often instrumental in driving the cause of green consumerism as a trend, causing companies to take steps toward more sustainable practices. Customers want to know how their products are made, where they are sourced, and what procedures are employed.
Green consumerism helps e-commerce businesses attract customers who are looking for a more environmentally conscious way of shopping. People are willing to pay a little extra for eco-friendly products. They may even switch brands if they can support better practices.
As an entrepreneur, you should strive to build an e-commerce website that emphasizes sustainable practices. One of the biggest ways to do this is by reducing your company’s carbon footprint, which means ensuring your operations don’t damage the environment.
Virtual reality (VR) changes the way brands reach consumers. The rise of immersive retail experiences is having an impact on the way brands are thinking about their customer experience — from product design to in-store display.
In fact, the consumer market has quickly adopted VR, as its users are expected to reach 65.9 million by 2023. VR lets major brands invest heavily in VR experiences to attract customers. You can gain valuable insights about what motivates consumers to buy what you sell.
VR offers brands a unique opportunity to develop an e-commerce site with an immersive experience for consumers. Companies can provide a better understanding of whether the products meet the consumers’ needs by promoting them in virtual reality.
E-Commerce Development Platforms
The e-commerce development platforms are essential tools for any entrepreneur. Generally, e-commerce development platforms act as a one-stop shop for all the technical and operational aspects of an e-commerce website.
The toolkits include search engine optimization, product listings and reviews, shopping carts and checkout pages. The following three development platforms can assist your developers in conducting online sales:
Shopify, established in 2006, is a B2B e-commerce platform that enables you to create an online store. It features powerful e-commerce software, an easy-to-use interface, and a range of helpful tools that can be utilized for selling physical products as well as digital ones.
The cloud-based platform also offers several apps that help with marketing, accounting, and payment processing. Additionally, it has constant software and server upgrades to help you run your business efficiently, and can be accessed from any compatible device.
WooCommerce, founded in 2008, is a WordPress plugin that offers a simple way to build an e-commerce store. This open-source shopping cart plugin is easy to use and has many features, including shipping and payment processing.
Also, this e-commerce platform has templates built for specific types of shops and comes with features to get you up and running quickly. If you want to build an e-commerce website with WordPress, you should consider what features your website needs and then find the right plugin.
Sellfy, built in 2011, is a powerful e-commerce platform that allows you to sell products, services, and digital downloads in various ways. It can make it easy for anyone to create an online store without knowing how to code or design websites.
It also offers digital subscription services for recurring payments and products. Since it’s a mobile-optimized store, you can customize your layout according to the branding you have. Whether you’re just getting underway or have been in business for a while, Sellfy is useful.
Essential Features of an E-Commerce Platform
While e-commerce platforms are available for every type of business, there are important features that every merchant should know about. This section covers four essential features of e-commerce platforms.
Search is one of the key factors that drive conversion rates and increase sales, as a search engine helps users find products and information easily.
Customers come to your site expecting to be able to find products quickly and easily. That’s why it’s critical that the search is fast, accurate, and delivers results that match their specific needs. Generally, the search feature can turn a customer into a repeat buyer.
A shopping cart is a central location where customers can add items to their virtual “shopping carts.” Your visitors can see these items listed on your site to easily select them and view the price. It then stores the details about the purchased product and keeps track of it.
Having a shopping cart saves time for both the seller and the consumer. It also increases seller’s sales since the customers can access past orders from within their accounts. With this cart, orders are accurately kept, ensuring that customer satisfaction is maintained.
A wish list is a feature that allows shoppers to save items that they want to purchase. It’s a way to save their favorite items and ensure they don’t miss out on them. They can create a wish list of products and then add them to the cart to buy them later.
Shoppers can see items they might want later without buying them immediately. Additionally, it enables sellers to see which products have successfully drawn customers, allowing them to decide which products should be promoted in the future.
Payment Processing Options
Payment processing is another critical aspect of any e-commerce platform. It enables merchants to accept payments online, send them to the appropriate accounts, and track when payments have been made. Plus, it helps to increase sales volume and reduce the risk of fraud.
The payment gateway is a system that connects buyers and sellers to make electronic payments. Generally, the payment gateway is a way for business owners to accept credit cards, debit cards, and other electronic forms of payment from their customers.
Things to Consider
There are several important factors to consider when creating an e-commerce website. This section covers a couple of things that you should take into consideration before getting started with your e-commerce project.
Building an MVP
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is aimed at showing potential customers what your platform may look like. This version tests whether your idea has value without costing much money, time, or effort.
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is essential in creating an e-commerce platform for entrepreneurs, as its main idea is to challenge presumptions and demonstrate the viability of the product’s concept.
An MVP can be a one-page website or a mobile app that allows users to test out your product before investing in building a complete solution. It can also help you identify bugs and test the final product for usability and user experience.
The objectives include delivering value right away, reducing development costs, and gathering user feedback that can be used to enhance subsequent iterations. Plus, you may consider it a marketing tool to attract potential customers and investors to your business.
Why Your Website Needs to be Scalable
Scalability is a process, network, or organization’s capacity to evolve and handle a rise in demand. It is necessary to ensure that your website can handle large amounts of traffic and transactions as your business expands.
Generally, it lets you make sure that your website may be able to grow with your business and not become a burden on your bottom line. You can add more products, services, and resources with a scalable e-commerce platform.
4 Steps to Develop an E-Commerce Platform
If you want a reliable and strategic way to develop an e-commerce platform, your search ends here. This section can help you build an e-commerce store from scratch or turn your existing online site into a storefront. These steps can give you a solid place to start:
To create an e-commerce platform, you need to research your customer demographic and determine the required features. The first step is to understand who your customers are. This move can help you decide what type of product they want and how they want to buy it.
You can create a profile for customers to understand what each of your customers are looking for and how they prefer to receive it. Once you have determined the needs, you can determine which features are required to meet those needs. These features can include the ability to:
- View different products within their category
- Compare prices on similar items across multiple sellers
- Filter through the available products by price, size, or color
- Review their past purchases or make new ones based on their previous orders
Since your e-commerce platform is constructed for online shopping, you should consider making it intuitive for seamless consumer engagement. This can help you flip a consumer to purchase your product via ways of optimizing your sales funnel.
Providing the best shopping experience comes with good navigation to find your products easily while giving contact and necessary information. You can also let your consumers roam with your platform without limitations, making accessibility a good impression.
Remember that user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are equally important parts of your design solution. Your UI design should be simple and easy to use, while your UX should focus on how users interact with your app or website.
3. Develop and Test
The next step is developing your e-commerce platform. If you do not have the technical knowledge to do this, consider hiring an experienced website developer.
Here are the things to look for in a website developer:
Passion For Their Work
Website developers who are passionate about their work would always be positive and excited about working with you. If the developer you work with isn’t excited about your interactions, communications may be dull and lacking. This will ultimately lead to development errors.
Reliable and Trustworthy
The website developer you hire must have the tools and skills available to bring your idea to reality. If you don’t trust the website developer, how can you work together effectively? Make sure to know the developer so the development process goes smoothly.
It is easy to misinterpret what someone is saying. A developer who communicates effectively ensures that you always have a clear overview of the project by explaining everything in simple terms.
Of course, once you’ve developed your e-commerce website, you should test it before releasing it to the public. Beta testing will confirm that your website is free of bugs and errors so that your user base does not encounter anything that hinders them from buying from you.
4. Deliver and Maintain
An e-commerce platform’s entire delivery and maintenance process is geared toward providing the best possible user experience. Since customer transaction errors can be found this way, it is crucial to watch how the platform behaves continuously.
It’s important to maintain a narrow focus when delivering an e-commerce platform. After all, the goal is to produce high-quality content that can persuade customers to purchase your product as soon as it is released.
Ensure your website is easy to locate and keep your customers coming back. You should also consider optimizing your onsite content by learning the SEO basics, and utilizing social media outlets to map your customer profiles.
After delivering your website, you must not forget to closely monitor your website for bugs and errors, and remedy them as fast as possible to keep your user base satisfied with your product.
How to Monetize Your E-Commerce Platform
So, you’ve built an impressive e-commerce website and are ready to monetize it. But where do you start? Don’t worry; this section can provide you with a list of ways to monetize your platform. Check the details below:
There are many ways that e-commerce websites can profit from their sellers, but the simplest and most common is by cutting the sales they make. This strategy can boost business profits without paying for advertising or other expenses related to selling online.
Having a sales commission is a common practice in many businesses. When you sell on eBay, for example, the company takes a cut off your earnings. This is how eBay makes money off its users — it takes 2 to 15 percent of their sales as a commission.
E-commerce websites can also charge sellers a small fee for each listing. This fee typically gets added to any commission you earn from selling that item through their store. It is how sellers pay for their inventory, and it’s an important part of how sellers make money.
For instance, Etsy charges sellers a small fee when they list an item on the site to help cover the costs of running their business. For each item you list for sale on Etsy.com or its mobile applications, you may be billed a 20-cent listing fee.
An e-commerce website can run ads after the user has made a purchase and before they make their next purchase. The ads can be targeted based on the user’s previous purchases and any other factors that are relevant to the advertiser.
Subscription, as a business model, grants any customer the ability to subscribe to your products or services on a monthly or annually basis. It is a donation method that charges customers to access additional content. Monetization comes with having a paywall with membership and content restrictions.
Idea Maker’s Experience In E-Commerce Development
Idea Maker is a software development company that has ample experience making custom e-commerce platforms for its clients based on their requirements. The team has given Inmate Mall a service that can undoubtedly change the lives of inmates and their families.
Idea Maker, using Django, made it possible to avoid long-distance charges by forwarding family members or friends’ calls to the inmates. Sending photos and messages now became accessible due to the upgraded service center.
Ideamaker has helped bridge the gap between families due to incarceration. The inmates can avail themselves of packages with the help of funds from their families outside. Thankfully, there are ways around this problem through technology. Check out some of the other Django development projects.
Are you ready to launch the next e-commerce platform? Schedule an appointment with Idea Maker today.