Ecommerce offers retailers a great way to launch and establish a new business in a short period of time, but you shouldn’t lose sight of long-term viability. To future-proof your store, you need to take various factors into account, including your choice of platform and your future development costs, as well as a changing marketplace.
How to future-proof your ecommerce store
Ecommerce is experiencing exponential growth globally, and some predictions are that the UK market will exceed £80,675 million in 2021. The pandemic has added £5.3 billion to UK ecommerce as more merchants have gone online to find new ways of reaching their target markets.
Despite an increasingly crowded marketplace, ecommerce continues to offer plenty of opportunities for fresh enterprise. But if you want to compete, how do you make sure you can stay the course and build something online that will continue to thrive?
Here are three questions you should be asking yourself.
1. What are your platform costs?
All retailers have overheads, and online retailers are no exception. The issue with ecommerce overheads is that while many are unavoidable, they’re also variable, depending on your choice of platform.
The main overhead costs associated with your platform are hosting, licence fees, transaction fees, apps, support and maintenance.
All of these will have some impact on your overall profitability but differ from platform to platform. Cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) platforms, for example, will offer certain inclusive features, but you’ll end up paying more in transaction fees.
Server-based platforms, on the other hand, can cost more in hosting but can give you more freedom to develop your store independently.
When you’re thinking about long-term viability, you should look at infrastructure costs in their entirety. There’s little point in saving on hosting, for example, if your transaction costs are going to eat away at your profits.
2. How easily can you grow your online store?
You might select a particular ecommerce platform because it’ll let you hit the ground running.
It might offer inclusive hosting, ease of use, and access to support, but what constraints does it put on your store’s future development?
SaaS platforms will typically offer room for expansion, but only within the platform’s overall constraints. You could find that running your store feels more like a franchise than having something that’s all yours.
Apps can be key tools in the scalability and development of online stores, but, in many cases if you want to enhance your store’s functionality, you’ll need to pay for premium versions.
You should also know that the more reliant you become on a range of plugins, the bigger an impact it can have when things go wrong. If apps have security issues or support is withdrawn in your first few months it’s a headache, but when you’ve built up your store over several years, the same situation can be catastrophic for your profits and reputation.
Be aware of the tech propping up your store and understand the benefits and risks.
3. Are you meeting your customers’ needs?
Regardless of what you’re selling, or what your online store looks like, you need to optimise it to maximise your sales conversions.
Optimisation involves multiple elements, including:
- Site speed
- Responsive design
- Navigation and site search
- Checkout and payments
It’s all about making sure the customer experience is spot on, and that you make it easy and attractive for people to buy from you. This is a major reason why online retailers are including Klarna as a payment option for their customers; it’s convenient and offers payment options which suit them.
Take a functionality-first approach
Once you’ve got a good concept and business plan for your store, then the next thing to look at is the functionality of your ecommerce platform.
If you buy a car, no matter what extra features it has, it needs a reliable and efficient engine to power it.
When you look at how you want your ecommerce store to develop, put functionality first. This is the engine that drives your enterprise.
With a lean, functional and powerful platform, like Aero, you have excellent foundations on which to build, develop and grow your store.
This approach will help to differentiate you as a dedicated, independently-minded retailer. If you want to invest in your enterprise for the future, then begin with the basics.
Good functionality will provide you with a sound technical framework, support the optimisation of your store, and give you the freedom and flexibility you need to future-proof your ecommerce business.
At Aero Commerce, we’ve combined retail, agency and software development skills and experience to create a streamlined ecommerce platform for agencies and professional retailers. Aero is designed to offer high-performance through a core functionality that allows plenty of scope for development without compromising on performance.
Find out more about Aero here.