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You could probably google “e-commerce website builder” or “e-commerce app maker” and would have a ton of options thrown at you. What you would find common, is a template based store design-builder.
Which is great for a quick and easy solution but such options usually come with –
- Barebone features
- Scalability issues, not recommended for large businesses or startups
- Limited customizability
- Recurring payments since you don’t own the template and features
Now if you want to run a successful e-commerce business you need to understand the software from the ground up and not just copy-paste your brand logo on a standard template.
- Did you know using MongoDB(NoSQL) database instead of MySQL database, so the app can manage a large volume of data, is commonly used by trending e-commerce applications?
- Did you know that SEO and Dynamic SEO in your online store will improve your store and merchants visibility?
- How about technological integrations such as IoT and Blockchain are starting to be seen in e-commerce apps as well?
- How about the fact that there are new standards set for e-commerce 2.0 apps/websites like having a buyer-seller chat, real-time analytics, currency conversion and shipping rate calculators, easy merchant commission setup, customizable offers, payment gateway setup etc?
So the next time you go online asking “e-commerce store builder”, don’t settle for the bare functionality, you are not going to stick out that way, especially in 2018.
Here at Appscrip, we launch e-commerce entrepreneurs using our multivendor marketplace app –SELLR, but that doesn’t stop us from receiving requests from entrepreneurs with little to no understanding on what a good e-commerce app should comprise off, or conversely, from those who have e-commerce app ideas that even we hadn’t thought of yet.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a simple checklist of features that any standard e-commerce app in 2018, should at the very least encompass.
For the buyer experience – Engagement is key
Social Login/Phone Login & Optional Sign up
Almost a standard in any online signup up process, having a social login to allow users to quickly register on your app is a good first impression feature.
You can even add a phone login feature that validates users via a simple OTP sent to their registered number.
However, giving users the option to view your store and registering only at the checkout process is also a good first impression practice.
Each store should have a profile, that users can browse through. Latest products, most viewed and available offers, ability to follow, add to wishlists or mark favorites – are all things that a user should be subject to when viewing a particular merchant.
Tracking & Live Updates
Shipping rates based on the pincode entered. Once the item is shipped, users should be able to have real-time updates on their order till its arrival.
Favourites, Wish Lists & News Feed
Users should be able to follow their favorite stores as well as save items to purchase when the next offer on it is available.
Once logged in, users should be greeted with a news feed based on the stores/users they have followed, upcoming updates on products & arrivals, recommended products and stores/people to follow.
There is no right combination of what the user should see when opening the app, but just remember – Engagement is key.
For the merchant experience – Easy setup & fast checkouts
Business Admin Panel
Merchants can manage their entire store from this panel.Each merchant should be able to set up their own unique store profiles, list out their featured products and showcase offers running to drive in customer visits.
Merchants must have the means of setting up product SKU’s for all their products to help keep track of their inventory. Each merchant should be able to manage and update their respective store’s inventory from the app itself.
Update the status of orders at various delivery stages.
It is nearly impossible for any brand today to digitally stand out without a good analytics dashboard. No of visits, most viewed products, demographics, followers with the item still left in cart etc all of which gives merchants a good view of what their customers what and when.
It’s no surprise that SEO or ASO techniques help e-commerce brands drive in a lot of organic traffic to their store. Dynamic slug or sitemap generation, keyword inclusion lists and image optimizations all aid in boosting the merchant’s presence online.
This can be done dynamically with each entry or controlled via the admin panel.
Seller – Buyer Chat
Allow merchants have an in-app chat feature with their customers to immediately handle sale or product related queries. Moderation control for the chat can be implemented either on the merchant’s side or admin.
For the admin – You’re the boss & you see it all
Super Admin Panel
A web-interface panel where the admin can view all the e-commerce store-related activities. User management, analytics, SEO, finances, orders etc.
An interface where you can setup the app commission rates for various merchants present on your store.
Merchant or Visitor, a dashboard to manage all the users on the app. Features such as access permissions, blocking, moderation etc should all be available to you.
Setup various city/country-based tax rates.
A complete financial accounting view of the entire e-commerce store-related transactions.
Payment gateways are important in the e-commerce transaction process, it authorizes the payment between merchant and customer. Popular payment gateways include PayPal/Braintree, Stripe, and Square.
Emails are a great way of improving your marketing ROI. Newsletters, offers, upcoming stores, remarketing can all be done via an integrated email marketing server
Send push notifications to some or all your application users. This can be in the form of offers or updates on orders/items.
An advertisement management module will allow you create customized advertisements with advanced targeting options.
Marketing Plans & Micro-transactions
Apart from commissions, the admin can additionally introduce marketing plans to the merchants. For example, if the admin notices a certain store has the maximum number of followers online for certain day, it can offer the store additional in-app advertisements to send out to all those followers for a small fee.
User-generated content is a cost-effective way of boosting traffic to your website. Did you know that nearly 50% of users want brands to tell them what kind of content to share, yet only 16% of brands actually do?
SImple UGC e-commerce campaign ideas can revolve around asking users to share photo’s of them with their purchased products or creating a brand-based hashtag and base competitions off it.
Personal Blog Section
A separate blog section can be added to the store wherein, users can read an article that’s associated with a certain product and then additionally have a link that redirects them to the product page or directly adds the product into the user’s cart.
As a bare minimum, your technical architecture should encompass the following technologies.
MongoDB – Distributed database with high availability, horizontal scaling, and geographic distribution that is built in and easy to use.
PHP – Open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development, primarily the admin panel.
Native Apps(iOS/Android) – Native apps are smartphone applications written specifically for a particular device. The largest competitors are the iPhone and Android phone. iPhone apps are written in Obj-C or Swift while Android apps are written in Java.
Click for Thought
E-commerce markets will always see an upward growth year on year, be it 2018 or 2020. Each new portal or store trying to outshine the other with new trending technological integrations or easier checkout processes or both.
B2B e-commerce in the U.S is predicted to hit $1.18 trillion by 2021 with a CAGR of 7.4%.
Asia-Pacific regions are also seeing high CAGR % with regards to e-commerce sales.
So it is not a matter of whether you should build your e-commerce brand or not, it is a question of when.
If you need to stick out and grow with your own e-commerce brand you need a strong business model and a robust yet scalable technological foundation.
Just keep the above few points as a basic e-commerce checklist when implementing any e-commerce app/website and if you are still having trouble….well, leave it to the experts then.