Ecommerce accounted for less than 10% of retail sales in America last year. That’s a shockingly low figure, especially considering most consumers express a preference for shopping online rather than in-store. Almost everyone has easy access to the internet, yet too few of us feel confident about clicking Buy Now. And despite numerous predictions about consumer habits beginning to change, experts predict that six out of seven dollars will still be spent in-store in 2021.
Consumer confidence is a key issue. Last year was disastrous for data protection with high-profile thefts from firms like Yahoo, Verizon and Equifax. The public is rightly concerned that handing over card details might put them at long-term risk. It’s therefore imperative for any online retailer to treat checkout and payment processes with the utmost respect, rather than installing an untested WordPress plugin and assuming it’ll be sufficient.
These are some of the ecommerce tools helping to build consumer trust, along with a few that are best avoided…
Reassuring consumers about data security is one of the biggest hurdles faced by the ecommerce sector, and digital payment platforms are attempting to resolve this issue. PayPal has overcome its phishing nightmares to become a trusted way of making a payment without entering card details. Its arch-rival Stripe offers Apple Pay compatibility without storing consumer data on retail websites, ensuring PCI compliance. Stripe is also easier to manage from a corporate perspective, thanks to superior customer service and a simpler API. As long as their values continue to fluctuate on the whims of stock market investors, cryptocurrencies are best left to tech-savvy firms with expertise in this area.
Given the interactivity and database integration required by ecommerce portals, creating a slick shopping site might seem daunting. This is where template platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify come in. The latter blends online and real-world shopping tools with industry-specific templates ready for scaling up as a business grows. PrestaShop is an open-source platform available free to companies of any size, slaying the myth that ecommerce development has to be expensive.
Marketing and SEO
Even the best ecommerce tools won’t help a site if it isn’t receiving any traffic. Fortunately, an entire industry has evolved around search engine optimisation and digital marketing. It’s possible to track where audiences move their mouse cursors (VWO), optimise pay-per-click ad campaigns (Google Analytics), and track KPIs in one place (Neatly). MailChimp is ideal for email campaigns, Buffer distributes pre-prepared social media updates at specified times, and Hustle provides WordPress-hosted ecommerce sites with targeted ads, pop-ups, and widgets.
WordPress offers numerous ecommerce tools among its 53,000 plugins. Some perform a specific function, with Ecommerce Product Catalog incorporating multi-level category selections and customisable tags. Others, like WooCommerce, handle everything from shipping and subscriptions to downloads and discounts. WordPress has become the world’s leading website management tool thanks to its extensive flexibility, but it’s important to check individual plugins on a regular basis. Developers often pull support to older or disrupted plugins, leaving them vulnerable to hacking or at risk of conflicts with newer software.
Ecommerce Tools to Avoid
Be wary of software without any customer reviews – it’s usually either too new to have been real-world tested, or a scam. Don’t use those horrible reCaptcha forms requiring users to identify every photograph containing a traffic sign or house number, since it’s often unclear which photos meet the criteria. Finally, avoid any registration form with more than a dozen fields – you don’t need to know someone’s date of birth or how many kids they have to approve an ecommerce transaction.
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