eCommerce continues to dominate the vast global retail landscape – and it’s a monster for good reasons. With an online store, you can:
- reach a global audience
- capture the appeal and freedom of delivery services
- take a variety of payment types
- work from almost any location
It’s not only attractive to business owners, but dually the customer base, especially post pandemic when people have become much more comfortable with online shopping.
In fact, according to IBISWorld,
“The Australian online shopping market size is $52.7 billion, as of August 2022. In 2022 alone, the Australian online shopping market grew by 12.6%.”
So, if you’re considering opening an eCommerce business, or have already taken the plunge, you’re going to need to remain competitive and professional by creating a solid and integrated eCommerce platform to run your business.
What’s an eCommerce platform?
In basic terms, an eCommerce platform is the connected array of systems you use to take payments and sell products online. These can be as simple or as complex as required.
You can choose to go with end-to-end solutions such as Shopify, which include website builders, or customise your own by integrating websites, payment portals, shipping, and financial tools with a solution like Zapier.
What kinds of tools do you need?
Whether you choose a single solution to manage your eCommerce needs or pick and choose your own tools and integrate them, is up to you. However, there are some key functionality requirements you need to consider. Like what?
A solid and fast website
First off the bat, you’ll need an eCommerce website. It needs to be clean, easy to navigate, fast, and be able to be connected to plugins or modules that handle online sales. You can use website builders like Shopify and WIX, or the tried and tested WordPress, with an array of customisable plugins.
A secure payment gateway
You’ll clearly also need a way to collect payments online. Make sure it’s secure, well known, and can handle multiple payment types like PayPal, major credit cards, and even options like Afterpay.
A comprehensive stock management system
When you sell a product, you’ll need to know that it’s in stock, and so will your customer. You’ll also need your online store to be connected with your stock management tool to know when to re-order.
A reliable and fast postage and delivery solution
Once a sale is made, how are you going to handle the postage and delivery? Whether you use drop shipping, outsource to a provider, or handle it in house is up to you. Regardless of your choice, you need it to be a swift and automated part of your sales process.
If you do it inhouse you want a solution that will print labels for example, and if you outsource, you want a solution that sends the order automatically upon sale.
eCommerce ready accounting and financial tools
No matter what business you’re in, you need to handle a number of financial processes, and also stay compliant with the ATO in terms of bookkeeping and tax concerns like GST.
To do this, you need an eCommerce ready cloud accounting product that can record sales, calculate GST, tabulate expenses, and connect with your bank account. On top of that, they can also handle your payroll and invoicing concerns and run reports like cash flow, so you know where you sit financially.
An easy-to-use marketing and CRM solution
When you make a sale, you need to record customer details and send them emails about their order. Apart form the basic need to communicate with them about their purchase, you should also be storing this data for a variety of purposes, including remarketing.
This way, you can know what products a customer likes and send off marketing emails and promo offers to keep them as a valued customer.
Why do you need to integrate these tools?
To get the most out of your online store and vastly increase automation and efficiency, you need to create an integrated eCommerce platform that lets these tools ‘talk to each other’.
Imagine you had to manually input sales into your accounting software? What would you need to do if your system didn’t automatically record stock changes or fire off a confirmation email upon purchase? What if you had to manually notify staff of a sale or print labels and ship items one by one?
If you don’t connect these solutions into an automated system, you’re not only going to be doing a lot of extra legwork, you’ll also be slow and inefficient.
So, make sure you either go with a more end-to-end one stop shop like Shopify, or use an integration tool like Zapier, to join all the dots in your eCommerce workflow. You’d be crazy not to.