Building an ecommerce site from scratch is a relatively rare practice nowadays, as most technically inclined individuals have found their way around the old-fashioned coding that used to be required to build a site, and are now instead using user-friendly site creation and management platforms to get their online stores off the ground faster than ever.
While finding a tool that will let you create a robust ecommerce site is usually very easy, it's worth noting that not all of these tools are created equal, and there are some key features you'll want to look for if you want the best start for your online store. With that said, let's take a look at three built-in capabilities and features every good ecommerce platform should provide access to:
1. Shopping Cart Plugins and Add-ons
An ecommerce site without a shopping cart is like a cashier without a register – it serves no purpose. Most platforms will include a built-in shopping cart solution for you to use “out of the box,” but some will go the extra mile and let you install third-party shopping cart plugins for more customised functionality.
Opt for a platform that gives you the creative and administrative freedom to adjust and optimise the checkout experience for your customers. When it comes to prioritising the decision-making process, few things are as important as an ecommerce-optimised shopping cart.
2. Comprehensive Library of Templates and Themes
The first attribute visitors will judge your site by is the aesthetic appearance and basic navigational features. The average internet surfer can tell right away if a site looks professional or B-grade, and believe it or not, their buying decision is usually heavily influenced by this crucial first impression of the site's design.
Thus, any great ecommerce platform should give you the ability to quickly change the look and feel of a site using a diverse library of ecommerce design templates. Look for platforms that are compatible with a variety of template types. Likewise, make sure the platform you choose is developer-oriented, allowing for easy expansion and improvement through the introduction of new templates and plugins.
3. Mobile Integration and Support for Responsive Design
Finally, in today's world most people access the internet via their mobile devices even more so than on their desktops. As such, it is imperative that you use an ecommerce platform that can facilitate the production of awesome websites that incorporate responsive design, which will allow your site's pages to be displayed across a variety of devices and screen types without compromising the overall look or functionality of the site.
Furthermore, a well-designed ecommerce platform will let you log into the administrative side of your site from a mobile device while presenting an optimised version of the admin panel for the device you're on.
The Most Important Feature of All
Above all else, a great ecommerce platform should come with a large support base in the form of a user forum as well as technical support from the platform creators and admins. If you want the best results as quickly as possible, don't make your ecommerce site a guinea pig by testing out some new platform that doesn't already have a lot of support or user feedback, go with a crowd favourite that already has at least a couple hundred thousand users.