Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Eight Software Features To Look For To Set Up And Maintain Your Business’s Online Store

Not every online storefront is the same and, when looking to set up and maintain their own online store, business owners can end up spending hours researching various components, add-ons, features and capabilities to find the right software to use. 

So what unique features should business owners be zeroing in on? What capabilities are likely to come in handy after the store is up and running? Here, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss some of the most valuable online store management software features and why these elements are so vital to online business owners.

1. A Simple, Secure Payment Process

Ensuring that the payment process is simple and secure is one of the most important things for business owners to implement. To attract more online shoppers, especially when it comes to payments, simplicity and safety are two priorities. There may be a lot of research involved, but choosing a great online payment option for customers to use on your site will pay off in the long run. People want a safe and simple way to complete their orders. Another way to ensure a simple checkout is to include an easily-accessible checkout button that takes customers straight to the order details, customer information form and point of sale. Customers also find it helpful when you include things like acceptable forms of payment, so they are aware before checkout. – John Hall, Calendar

2. Performance Metric Tracking

When setting up your online store, it’s critical that you track key performance metrics from day one. Look for platforms and software tools that make it simple and easy for you to keep score and understand how you are performing on key indicators such as site visitors, the percentage of visitors who are reaching the checkout, your conversion rate and your average order value. Tracking these critical numbers will help you understand how you are performing over time and allow you to use the software to make adjustments to help you grow your online store. Some software tools make this really easy while others require you to jump through hoops and add third-party tracking to understand your numbers. Go for the ones that make tracking your numbers easy and you will save a lot of time. – Joe Stolte, The Tractionology Group

3. Scaling Capabilities

Ask yourself, “How long can this platform grow with me?” If your answer is, as an example, “Until I am a company doing $6 million in annual sales,” then take a look at their client list and make sure those companies are there. It is something we witness businesses doing all the time, investing thousands of dollars into solutions that will not grow with them. Take the time to do your due diligence or you will be out at least twice the investment (time and money). Here is the other thing to take into account, make sure you have a proper conversation with every team that will be using this software. Forcing it onto the teams will create more resistance and complaining, which means more resources lost. Even if certain teams disagree with your decision, explaining the decision earns buy-in. – Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.

4. Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile responsiveness is an essential feature. When a website is responsive, the layout adapts based on the size of screen the user is on, whatever country or kind of connection they have. A responsive website automatically changes to fit the mobile’s requirement for size and in downloading data/cache. It is also best that the website looks good on mobile, doesn’t look crowded or dark and is just spacious enough to be understood and enjoyed by many. – Daisy Jing, Banish

5. Automated Notifications

One feature that can help you increase sales is an automated process for sending notifications to customers who abandon their shopping cart. Shopping cart abandonment costs online businesses many sales. Some e-commerce platforms let you send automated messages to remind customers. On platforms, you may need to upgrade your plan to get this feature. This is a reason that free or basic plans may not be the best long-term solution. On Shopify, for example, you have to manually send messages on their basic plan but can automate the process with their advanced plan. There are also apps that can let you send these messages automatically. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

6. SEO Capabilities

Make sure you have the ability to set and configure search engine optimization meta tags and also the slug or URL for each page on your website. Without this ability, search engines (such as Google) will struggle to identify what your webpages are about and you’ll be much less likely to rank for any keywords or get traffic. The most important meta tags are the title, description, header tags (for example, H1, H2, etc.), canonical tags, alt text and your robots meta tag. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com

7. Seamless Integrations

Always look for seamless third-party integrations. Any software you choose will have its inherent limitations. To overcome those, you’ll want to make sure the platform has a robust app marketplace that allows for quick and easy third-party integrations. Check for the availability of free apps and observe the prices for the paid apps. That way, you can ensure hosting your e-commerce store is affordable as you scale. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

8. An Intuitive Dashboard

When you’re evaluating e-commerce software, really go for something that you’ll feel comfortable logging in to daily. And just get it up and live. Find something where the dashboard backend is intuitive enough that first timers can run their store. Look for something with a low barrier to entry. I work with a ton of first-time e-commerce entrepreneurs who want “scalability” outright. But they tend to overcomplicate things and try to make things “perfect” before they even open the doors. Just do it! Get your store up and fix things as you make money. But you have to be comfortable with rebuilding once you cross that $100k monthly revenue mark. It’s just a part of the process. – Kaitlyn Witman, Rainfactory

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