WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Telstra’s Online Essentials provide e-commerce platforms you could look at for your store. Weebly and WIX are also making big moves into the e-commerce space. Customer experience should play a big part in deciding what e-commerce platform you choose, and often it’s a platform’s add-ons and plug-ins optional features that enhance a platform that make a customer’s experience groovy (not gruesome!). Used well, the right tech can also help to sell and ship products more effectively and efficiently. So what should you look for in a platform’s add-ons and plug-ins? Add-ons can show products, pricing and deals based on a visitor’s location or purchase history. They can offer automatic freebies to help convert a visit into a sale (“buy this item and get this one free!”), or automatically reward returning customers with a loyalty bonus. For example, customers can earn points for purchases then redeem them as a full or part payment for an order at checkout.
A shipping matrix add-on is useful for even very small businesses. It lets customers easily choose their preferred delivery option, and can automatically generate a carrier label. As well as helping you save time, this eliminates the potential for making gaffes on address labels. Larger enterprises may want an add-on that automatically sends orders from your online shop through to the warehouse for fulfilment, then tracks the shipping and updates your stock level list. You won’t spend time filling in forms for the warehouse, and customers could get their goods faster, with easy tracking.
Integrate with other shopping channels
Some platforms can fully integrate with eBay stores and Facebook shopfronts, as well as power your own e-commerce website. This cuts out a bucket load of work. Without an add-on, you would have to slog through and re-create an inventory for each shopfront, instead of sharing your existing inventory across all the channels.
Integrate with existing software
Add-ons that sync orders with your inventory, or sync invoices with payments, can cut out data double-handling. Remember, routine tasks can be time drains as your business grows, so let your website sweat the dull stuff and you don’t have to. Just imagine how long it would take to manually update your stock list if you sold 200 model trains or cars, all of different styles, in two days leading up to Christmas? (And that’s not counting inputting the sales into your accounts.)
Deliver analytics stats
Plugging in Google Analytics lets you measure traffic to your site and see if visitors have come directly or through a marketing email, social post or another referring site. The Crazy Egg add-on lets you analyse where people are clicking on your web pages, so you can see what they’re interacting with and what they’re ignoring. Telstra's Online Essentials provides you with traffic and visitor reports, too. The right plug-ins and add-ons make it simpler for anyone to customise and manage an e-commerce store. Help save yourself time and stress by connecting tools for customer relationship management, marketing, order fulfilment, accounts and a lot more. So when you’re looking at e-commerce platforms, check out what plug-ins are around, too. A good library of add-ons can mean happier customers and a happier you.
*Originally published on March 3rd 2017. Updated May 21st 2019.