What is an eCommerce Platform?
Features of an Ecommerce platform
An eCommerce platform is a software that enables a business to sell their products and services online. It is a technology solution you will use to build your online stores to showcase your products and services. Its single purpose is to sell these products and services to your online customers. For example, Amazon, eBay, are all examples of eCommerce platforms.
An eCommerce platform forms the backbone of any online business – it allows a front-end application and back-end application to work in tandem to complete a sale process. Front end applications are an online web application that has a user interface and allows you to navigate the store on your mobile, laptop or a PC. The back end applications are not visible to a user but are installed on a remote server that serves all the requests from the front end and responds back to the front end with appropriate preformed web pages which gets displayed on your laptop or PC.
Unlike traditional brick and mortar business, an eCommerce platform does not need to have any premise, standalone software, in-house management team. These types of setups are not easy to expand, not cost-efficient, challenging to work with and time-consuming. An eCommerce platform integrates all required features like centralized order and inventory management, sales, order fulfillment, customer service and more importantly the ability to process order data and ship orders. With ecommerce platforms, you can also analyze your store performance, gain insight into strong and weak areas, create a relevant and engaging customer experience and grow your business faster.
An eCommerce platform enables your customers to buy products and services from you. Though eCommerce platforms differ from one another in the way they sell or provide a service, the best ecommerce platforms have these common key features:
A content management system in an eCommerce platform allows you to manage the contents of your frontend website, add and manage products, services, make changes to your business processes like order, inventory, payment, shipping, customer management, discounts, and add safe and secure transactions to your store.
It also allows you to view performance and metrics of your store, sales, customers, products and make tweaks to improve your store’s performance.
All eCommerce platforms need a shopping cart where your customers can select your products or services, add them to a cart, and complete a checkout (payment) process. A flexible shopping cart allows your customers to make payments easy, using a variety of methods (credit card, PayPal, bank accounts, digital currencies, etc). The shopping cart is linked to a third party called the payment gateway which processes the payments from customers to your bank account.
An eCommerce platform allows you to market your business via email, social media integration and implement certain steps called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that allows your store’s web pages to be prominently displayed in Google’s search results. All these marketing methods are efficient, cost-effective and enable to achieve the desired sales.
An eCommerce platform usually has an infrastructure that allows quick and easy addition of new features without spending too much on these plugins or extensions. Some of these plugins can be automatically added to the platform, freeing up your time to focus on growing your business, rather than tinkering with minute details.
With the ever-rising number of mobile users, the need to make your eCommerce website accessible to these mobile customers is crucial. Most of the new eCommerce platforms support mobile-friendly themes, which increase your customer base from mobile users.
With declining retail stores that are brick and mortar based, most sales nowadays are through an online eCommerce platform. However, it’s still a growing market. According to eMarketer, the global eCommerce market in 2019 is around $3.5 trillion and is expected to reach $5 trillion by 2021.