Your own online store should provide customers with the best customer experience. To do this the underlying shop system needs a wide range of functions. We will show you which online store functions your shop system should cover so that you are well positioned for e-commerce now and in the future.
For the frontend – the part of the online shop that your customers see – there are high requirements today, so that the customer experience meets the wishes of the clientele. The online store should be clearly laid out, have the same usability on desktop, tablet and smartphone and, of course, function flawlessly. But the front end is only as good as the back end, the shop system on which your online store is built. In order for your store to ultimately meet customer expectations, the shop system should offer some features from the ground up.
Do you want to know what basic features the shop system software of different providers offers? In our market overview of shop systems we have compared 16 software solutions for your e-commerce store. You can download the overview of basic features free of charge via the download form:
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Online store features: Basic features for easy scalability
Almost every online store grows in the course of its life. With more and more customers the technical demands on the store also increase. Companies must nevertheless ensure that the store can withstand the high volume of orders from customers and that the server and applications function properly. One of the most important questions concerning the functions of the store system is therefore: In what form is the store system provided?
The choice is between installation on the company’s own server or a Software as a Service (SaaS) or application service provider (ASP) solution. In our market overview, almost all shop systems are available as SaaS or ASP solutions. However, only half of the solutions can be installed on your own server. The right choice can be decisive here in terms of scaling. A SaaS shop system is easier to scale than an in-house installation on the server. Companies should take this into account when choosing software for their stores.
Future viability of the online store – this should be possible
Just as scalability should be easy, it is also elementary that the online store can be adapted to future customer needs. Shop systems that can be easily expanded with plug-ins offer advantages here. But open source solutions are also well suited for flexibly adapting the e-commerce store. In addition, the shop system should already support a responsive design so that the store offers a good customer experience both on the desktop and on mobile devices.
Another aspect that should also be covered today: The ability to implement multichannel commerce. Nowadays, it is not enough to sell on the Internet only via your own online store. E-commerce companies should also be able to easily offer products on another website – such as an online marketplace. Multichannel is now a must-have for long-term success in online retailing, as customers place their orders not just via a single store, but on several platforms. Anyone who is not represented here ultimately loses conversions.
Our market overview shows that all the shop systems whose providers we surveyed are future-proof. As a rule, they have the option of installing new functions for the store via plug-ins. Five out of 16 providers even offer an open source solution. And all shop systems support responsive design, so that a good customer experience no longer depends on the end device.
Designing the store: What templates do the shop systems offer?
A quick start in e-commerce can be successful if the shop system plays along well. Ready-made standard templates make it much easier to design the online store. They help to set up the online store quickly and still maintain a clear design – even without detailed developer knowledge. Half of the solutions we compared offer standard templates. However, the number of different templates varies considerably: from two to more than ten. In addition, individual software providers offer customizable standard templates. For companies that want to get started in e-commerce, many manufacturers therefore offer an easy way to quickly set up the store – if necessary, even already with individual customizations.
When designing the online store, shop systems should ideally have a preview function. This is also integrated in 14 out of 16 providers. The advantages of the preview function:
- The design of the store can be examined in detail before going live. Errors can be corrected before customers see them.
- Developers can examine the store design in several variants “side by side”, so to speak, and thus make a better decision in favor of a design.
Safe test environment instead of open-heart surgery
Nothing is more annoying than when adjustments are made to the online store and the store is suddenly no longer accessible to customers. Of course, maintenance work can lead to brief offline times. But this should remain the exception. A test environment is an important feature, so that developers can try out new functions and designs for the store without the customers noticing anything directly. Therefore, this is also available in almost all shop systems in our comparison.
One shop system for B2C and B2B
Not all merchants are B2C-only. Some are active in both B2C and B2B commerce. In this case, it makes sense if your shop system can be used for both worlds. This not only saves costs, but also reduces the effort required – e.g. in terms of familiarization and training. In our market overview, we therefore asked whether the solutions can be used for B2C and B2B commerce. The result: All providers in the comparison have software solutions that can be used for B2C and B2B online stores.
D2C commerce - new contact with the clientele
Conclusion: The most important thing about the shop system is the future viability of the solution
No matter which shop system you ultimately choose for your online store, the basic features we have looked at should (predominantly) be present. Nothing less is necessary to ensure that the online store is ready for future requirements. E-commerce is very dynamic, because so are customer needs. This means it is even more important for companies to be able to keep up with this pace. In the end, the customer experience when placing an order determines whether a potential customer becomes an actual customer.