If you have a business today, now you must have online sales showcase. On the market, there are several platforms and software, more or less complex, which allow you to create an online trading site in a fairly short time. But building a well-made, truly profitable and secure e-commerce business is anything but simple.
If large companies can rely on internal structures and skills to support a process of designing and implementing a new online sales channel, small and medium businesses rely on external web agencies, which often do not know their processes. business, or the classic do-it-yourself.
In ZeraTech we are often contacted to intervene on e-commerce projects started but not preforming, on channel structures that are not sufficiently secure or suitably sized to support the business. We have been able to observe that all these failures are due to a missed or wrong analysis and initial evaluation.
We have therefore identified five fundamental elements for building e-commerce that, if not properly considered, would risk a loss of time and money and even the failure of the project.
957/5000As we said, there are many platforms and software available to build an e-commerce. Those open-source or at least low-cost, mostly used in Italy are Adobe Magento, PrestaShop, Shopify, WooCommerce of WordPress.
If the “cost” variable can be a first factor in selecting the platform, it is necessary to get an idea of the functionalities and the limits of the platforms to face the best choice in a medium-long term strategy.
Here are some of the pros and cons of the most used platforms in Italy. These are just some of the macro-differences between the different solutions that can already give you some hints to guide you.
PRO – Integrated framework in the WordPress system completely free and open source. You download easily it and it has a series of plugins/extensions that also activate basic functions for online trading activities (these plugins are usually paid).
CONS – To perform well it requires a dedicated theme (and even in this case they are paid topics). It is not a platform born for commerce, but a set of functionalities made available to one blogging platform, a price you pay in terms of functionality and security: surely it is not a suitable system for high growth rate businesses.
SUITABLE FOR – Craftsmen or small businesses with limited online sales flow (also from medium-long term perspectives).
PRO – Open source platform born to manage e-commerce. It has a good level of security and flexibility. It can be customized with ad hoc developments It has a dashboard of easy configuration and administration management use.
CONS – Most extensions (plug-ins/modules) to add features to the site are paid and developed by different companies: this doesn’t guarantee compatibility between each of them. The additional modules have but very low costs (but as against they do not easily handle the return if you encounter problems). Often the installation of a theme (for a new layout) also compromises the functionality of the extensions.
SUITABLE FOR – Born as a platform for fashion retail, is indicated for those small and medium realities of this sector that can natively find dedicated functions. Also indicated for reality small-medium companies with the availability of a minimum initial investment for the system configuration.
PRO – Born as an open-source platform was acquired by Adobe which has maintained a “light” version free (Magento Community Edition). It is a secure platform and well structured, even if the free version is a bit limited. There are however a number of very valid, expensive extensions/plugins, but almost all sold with the trial formula for a limited time within which you can decide to make them without problems.
CONS – The administration dashboard is particularly complex and requires initial training effort personnel. The Community Edition version lacks many features that have been limited to the paid version (which, however, has very expensive licenses). If there is a large community of expert programmers on old versions of Magento that share helpful tips and tricks, documentation and support on the new versions is very scarce: the customizations for which one does not find ad-hoc modules (plugins) require dedicated development.
SUITABLE FOR – Suitable for companies of medium to large size that has a clear business growth perspective online but also the possibility of investing in resources dedicated to the management of the instrument.
PRO – Shopify is an e-commerce platform that does not require the installation of software on its own server. It does not, therefore, require the management of particular architectures. It is easy to use. Provides additional modules (called App) free and payment, to personalize graphical aspect and functionality.
CONS – It is paid, but it has a tariff quite affordable (with a subscription starting at $ 29 and up). It is a product to be used “as is”: the customizations are a lot limited (it is possible only if you find an app that implements your needs).
SUITABLE FOR – If there are no specific needs for highly customized configurations, can be an excellent platform for small companies that are approaching for the first time at online commerce.
An issue that is often overlooked is the integration of eCommerce with other business systems.
Indispensable is the integration with the company Business Management Software (ERP) that deals with tax flows and often also with warehouse loads and discharges.
Then there are the possible integrations with the courier tracking systems, rather than those with Customer Relationship Management systems.
These functions cannot be relegated to eCommerce, which require dedicated processes and tools, which must also comply with specific local regulations and rules.
If you do not opt for a SaaS platform (such as Shopify) it is good to keep in mind the need to create a solid and secure architecture for the installation of the site.
The most economical and flexible choice is a Cloud infrastructure, on which to install the software, schedule backups and manage security systems.
Of course, the Cloud service also has a budgeted cost, but with a minimum of management (for example to keep data storage limited) you can keep on fairly low figures.
Preparation of information material and navigation structure
Usually, when we talk about content in an online shop we rightly think about products and possibly also all the information associated with them (such as descriptions, photos, product variants, videos, datasheets, certificates, etc).
It is certainly a good practice to structure the content of the product catalog by trying to follow a format that is as uniform as possible: usually attributes (or characteristics) are identified that are common to all products that can standardize the structure of a “product sheet” and make it easily readable by the user.
Another important step is to define a catalog taxonomy, collecting the products in common classifications (categories): this step is very important because it is closely correlated with the navigation tree of the content (and therefore also all the SEO implications – site positioning e-commerce at the level of search engines).
It is advisable to avoid very ramified trees.
The study of the content, of the taxonomy, of the metadata, is essential to understand if the selected platform is configurable to allow the loading of the entire catalog or if additional external modules are needed, but also for the selection and configuration of the graphic theme.
In fact, the graphic theme governs not only the layout features (backgrounds, fonts, etc.) but also the display and navigation of the data on the site.
In selecting the theme, in addition to the aesthetic line to be given to the site, also consider the type of flexibility that allows for configuration level (if appropriate to your needs – eg the structure of the product detail page). Do not forget that the theme you are going to select will have to be responsive, or prepared for navigation even from a mobile.
The last element to take into consideration is the marketing strategies to be applied. If price management is obviously guaranteed by all eCommerce platforms, there may be differences in the management of promotions and discounts.
Having a clear idea of the marketing strategies you want to adopt on the new sales channel is essential to evaluate the platform, the budget to be allocated and the possible integration with additional systems/platforms.
Finally, an initial investment for the promotion of the channel during the launch phase of the new e-commerce must also be included in the Marketing strategy.
In conclusion, the design process of a new e-commerce site calls into question issues that, if not analyzed and managed correctly, could cause problems in terms of implementation as well as in the performance of the new platform. For this reason, it is very important to carefully analyze all these elements, so as to start off on the right foot.
In ZeraTech we build a strategy tailored to the needs of each customer, which considers all these elements according to the business processes of each company, with the aim of achieving profitable and secure e-commerce, really able to facilitate business growth of companies.
To deepen the question or for any question do not hesitate to contact us.