Efficient ecommerce platforms are a vital part of Internet wholesalers' and retailers' businesses. They provide a variety of tools that automate web based sales, such as creation and maintenance of product catalogs, shopping cart services, payment processing and order tracking. "Technology evolves fast and so do consumers. Digital consumer touch points, such as mobile, social, and tablets are increasing in popularity," reports Sean Cook, ShopVisible CEO. "To maximize your opportunities, your platform has to continuously evolve with the latest technology advancements, and put you in the best position to be where the consumer is going to be next."
ShopVisible, named Best Electronic Commerce Solution 2012 by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), suggests online wholesalers and retailers look for a history of both rapid and smart innovation, to ensure they stay ahead of the curve when evaluating ecommerce providers. "If your ecommerce platform hasn't evolved to meet the demands of the consumer, then you are at a disadvantage," Cook stresses. Ecommerce services should enable small businesses to get up and running online quickly and cost effectively, and deliver, among other things:
- Increased sales through effective site marketing.
- Improved service and loyalty through an enhanced customer experience.
- Greater efficiency through full process automation and minimized site administration.
Matching the assortment of features available from ecommerce providers with your online needs, as well as choosing between a licensed or hosted product, can be daunting. If you purchase a licensed product, you will need to install and maintain the software. If you choose a hosted solution, you pay a monthly fee and the provider handles maintenance. Along with choosing from the range of support services providers offer, online sellers must evaluate user and back-end functionality.
"Ability Commerce's SmartSite platform is built by merchandisers for merchandisers," asserts Diane Buzzeo, Ability Commerce founder and CEO. "Our depth of knowledge in the catalog, retail and distribution industries is the backbone of our solution design. It is intuitive for any retailer to use, with no IT or coding experience necessary. Each of SmartSite's features is targeted for enhancing the customer experience on the site, increasing conversion rates and average order values, and converting shoppers to buyers. We make it easy for merchandisers to build and manage promotions." Ability Commerce offers a full range of services, from supporting clients that have their own team to run the platform, to hosting and managing their solution, and SmartSite has the intelligence to integrate with order management systems and various channels.
Ecommerce platform AllMoxy provides an online store, along with tools on the back-end to run the business in its entirety. Brady Lewis, AllMoxy founder and CEO, states, "We take care of order processing, including billing of materials advanced enough for manufacturing companies, supply allocation and management, employee management, task management, CRM, debt collection, accounting, estimating and reporting."
Choosing features and getting started with an ecommerce platform, and fine-tuning your solution as your business needs grow and change, and key to the success of your online store. Initial must-have ecommerce capabilities include up-sell and cross-sell, product reviews, flexible pricing, import/export, cloning, automatic re-sizing of product images, setting minimum quantities, identifying back-ordered items, analytics, integrated shipping, product feeds, gift certificates and wish lists, and PCI compliant hosting security. Following is more information about these features:
- Up-sell. Offers customers a product that is of greater value than the product they are currently considering or adds options/features to the product they are buying in an attempt to increase spend.
- Cross-sell. Offers items that are complementary to the merchandise the customer is purchasing.
- Product reviews. Reviews and approves posts or has reviews posted automatically.
- Flexible pricing management. Allows you to offer promotional pricing for a product, customer, order or time frame; and wholesale or retail pricing displayed to customers via the same catalog interface. It also allows you to set up affiliate pricing, accept discount codes, and allow for quantity based pricing and tax exempt purchases.
- Bulk import/export, product cloning and automatic resizing of product images. Enables you to easily add products to your online store.
- Set minimum quantities and identify back-ordered items. Helps you manage inventory.
- Analytics. Allows you to generate real-time site and search ranking data and other reports to monitor your business. Be sure your ecommerce solution allows you to export and save reports.
- Integrated shipping. Interfaces with major shippers such as USPS, UPS and FedEx, and gives you the ability to markup shipping rates.
- Product feed. Allows you to create a feed of your products that you can upload to shopping comparison engines, as well as create multiple product feeds for each comparison engine.
- Gift certificate and wish list. These options can play a major role in holiday sales conversions. Gift certificate purchasers generally spend more than the amount of the certificate, and many shoppers use someone else's wish list to make their purchases.
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). A widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to optimize the security of credit, debit and cash card transactions, and protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information. If you accept online payments, be aware that any merchant that processes, stores or disseminates credit card information must be PCI DSS compliant or you risk being fined and/or losing the ability to process credit payments.
- PA DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard). The standard that credit card companies established in order to provide guidelines for software vendors on how to manufacture secure payment applications.
"Pinnacle Cart is one of only a handful of solutions that has been certified PA DSS complaint by all major credit card companies, making it one of the most secure ecommerce applications on the market today," explains Craig Fox, the founder and chief evangelist of Pinnacle Cart. "As a store owner, you need to understand the importance of using a secure application. If your store is hacked, you are responsible for fines, legal costs, settlements, judgments, costs of reissuing new payment cards and more." In addition to providing a secure platform, Pinnacle Cart is built from a marketing perspective, Fox points out. "It is designed to increase organic traffic, increase sales and increase the average sale amount. Besides being feature rich and easy to use, Pinnacle Cart comes with a web, mobile and Facebook storefront included with no additional fees."
Online shopping is universal and ecommerce sales are expected to jump 62 percent, from $224 billion in 2012 to $327 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer. Internet sellers must adopt a reliable, flexible ecommerce solution to capture the bounty. What will matter most to online shoppers is whether or not the online shopping experience is satisfying. Choosing a solid ecommerce solution that meets your customers' needs for service, as well as your needs for functionality, increased sales and greater efficiency, requires store owners to invest both time and capital.
To help you get started, Web Wholesaler examined a cross section of ecommerce solution providers: Ability Commerce, AllMoxy, Bridgeline, COREsense, Fortune3, Insite Commerce, Jagged Peak, Morse Data (In Order Real Time Commerce), NetSuite, Pinnacle Cart, ShopVisible, UniteU Connected Commerce, Volusion and zStore from Zoyto, to determine if they offer the 16 features described above. Of the companies reviewed, all have many of the basic features, such as product feed support, cross-sell/up-sell, and PCI compliant hosting and security. Please see our Ecommerce Platform Review chart for details. In addition, many providers offer tools on the back-end to run a business in its entirety.
For more information:
1300 NW 17th Avenue, Ste. 200
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Email: online contact form
18 N 200 E
Tremonton, UT 84337
Tel.: 800-804-8221 / 435-213-1602
80 Blanchard Rd
Burlington, MA 01803
Email: online contact form
125 High Rock Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
3042 NW 82nd Ave
Doral, FL 33172
110 North 5th St, 8th Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55403
3000 Bayport Dr. Ste. 250
Tampa, FL 33607
Morse Data Corp. In Order Real Time Commerce
16 Pierce St.
Dover, NH 03820
2955 Campus Drive, Ste. 100
San Mateo, CA 94403-2511
7227 N. 16th St., Suite 270
Phoenix, AZ 85020
Email: Online Form
945 East Paces Ferry Rd, Ste 1475
Atlanta, GA 30326
UniteU Connected Commerce Platform
12 Pine Cone Dr.
Pittsford, NY 14534
8911 North Capitol of Texas Highway
Austin, TX 78759
zStore from Zoyto
433 Northpark Central Dr.
Houston, TX 77073
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