E-commerce continues to grow at a rapid pace. If you’re thinking about starting an online storefront or adding the ability to purchase your products online in addition to a brick and mortar store, you’ve probably already considered some of the most common features that you’ll need.
Some of these features may include an easy way to add new products, the ability to quickly set up your storefront, the ability to set up sales and specials, store analytics, and integrations with payment providers.
But there are features that you may not be considering that can be just as important as the ability to import your products. Below we’ve called out 4 e-commerce features that you may not have thought of, but that can take your business to the next level.
An Extensible E-commerce Platform
When you first set up your e-commerce site, it may seem like the platform you’ve chosen has everything you’ll ever need. But you should take a step back and review what your company might need in the future, or at the very least understand that what you need today might not be what your customers will demand from you tomorrow.
Since it’s unlikely that you have a crystal ball to know what that might be, your insurance against your needs outgrowing your platform is to choose one that is extensible.
What does that mean? It means that you’ll be able to add functionality to your platform without having to bring in an expert to make significant changes to the core of your e-commerce platform. This not only allows you to add functionality as it becomes relevant, such as fraud protection, mentioned below, and customer service software, it also allows you to respond to your market as the needs of your customer base change. Additionally, it can allow you to amp up the security on your site by adding new innovations as they become available.
Open Source E-commerce Implementation
While having a site that is extensible means you can add pre-built components to grow your business and your platform’s functionality, choosing an open source e-commerce solution means that you can make your storefront into anything you want, with a little help from a knowledgeable technology partner.
Because open source software provides the code that makes up the platform’s functionality available, a skilled technology partner can help you change or add functionality to your storefront that may not exist otherwise. If you’ll need specialized functions to make your storefront the best it can be, going open source can be the most robust means of ensuring you get exactly what you want.
Remember, though – open source may not mean free. Some companies still charge for their platform, but once you are a licensed user you have access to the underlying code.
Integration with Fraud Protection
Payment processing is a no brainer for an e-commerce site. But with e-commerce fraud on the rise – fraud rates in 2016 were 33% higher than those a year earlier – you need to consider protecting those purchases as much as being able to accept them.
E-commerce sites typically leverage the Card Verification Value (CVV), located on the back of the credit or debit card, as a step toward ensuring a transaction is valid. But CVV verification is only a first step toward fraud prevention.
Outside services, like ClearSale, provide modules that can be used with various e-commerce platforms that can help verify the validity of a charge as well as identify the likelihood that a particular transaction may get charged back – something known as “friendly fraud”.
Ability to Connect to a 3PL
As your business grows, your ability to manage inventory, order fulfillment, and shipping management, along with your business will diminish. It’s at this point that many e-commerce retailers look to 3PLs for assistance with the inventory and order fulfillment needs.
A 3PL – or third-party logistics provider – can manage these elements of your business for you, providing you with benefits like reduced shipping time and cost, updated and streamlined warehouse procedures, and inventory adaptation and management based on demand.
However, adding a 3PL to your online retail business will provide fewer positives to your business if you need to manage orders directly. Instead, a direct integration to your 3PL will allow orders coming in from your website to flow seamlessly into your order fulfillment systems with your third-party logistics provider.
If you’re just starting out in the online retail space, some of these concerns may seem far reaching. But as your business grows, you’ll be glad you took the time to plan for expansion. Overhauling your e-commerce site shortly after setting it up is a frustrating experience and one that can be avoided when you consider a few additional features that will free to you to grow and build your business.