Ecommerce is a lot like a car. When you choose an automobile, the bottom line is you want it to run–and run well. It’s ultimate goal is to carry you from point A to point B. However, it’s unlikely that your only requirement of your car is that it run. Chances are, you also want it to:
- Look nice.
- Be safe.
- Be reliable.
- Be comfortable to ride in.
- Get good gas mileage.
- A good sound system doesn’t hurt either.
In short, a car is not purely functional, although it has a clear job to accomplish. The same can be said of ecommerce. Let’s look at exactly what you want in a car and how that compares to what you need in an ecommerce site.
- Run–and run well. Whether you are considering an automobile or an ecommerce site, the basic requirement is that your machine run well. In ecommerce, this really means that your ecommerce platform is integrated with your back-end business systems–sharing information with your ERP, CRM, accounting and shipping systems without the need for manual re-entry. Integration keeps your business firing on all cylinders and improves performance while cutting costs. Learn more about ecommerce integration.
- Be safe. Just behind function is safety, for cars and ecommerce sites. Because cars transport precious cargo and ecommerce sites transmit sensitive financial information, safety is paramount during operation. Safe cars have seat belts, air bags, and safety cages, plus well-kept brakes and steering systems. Safe ecommerce sites use well-known payment gateways, encrypt sensitive information, and follow PCI and PA-DSS compliance rules.
- Be reliable. When you get in your car, you want to know that it’s going to start. When you visit an ecommerce site, you want to get right in and make your purchase–not hit the dreaded notification that the site is not currently availble. If your ecommerce site isn’t reliable, you will lose customers to the competition. It’s that simple.
- Be comfortable to ride in. No one wants to bounce around on loose shocks or be crammed into the back seat with the front seat in their knees. In ecommerce, comfort equals intuitive user interface design. This means consistent and intuitive placement of navigation, advanced search capability, and interactive features such as a dealer locator or the ability to easily compare two products side-by-side. Discover how interactive content boosts user experience.
- Look nice. In high school, I drove an old beater car with lots of “character” while many of my classmates drove newer models or new vehicles gifted to them on their 16th birthdays. I quickly learned that while function is important, plenty of a car’s merit is based on how it looks. Ecommerce is no different. Visual appeal is essential if you want visitors to hang around long enough to convert into customers. Learn more about how site design drives ecommerce success.
- Get good gas mileage. No doubt you don’t want to have to put gas in your car every time you start it up. Likewise, you probably don’t want to have to sink money into your ecommerce site every time you need to make changes or updates. Choosing an ecommerce platform that allows you to easily make basic changes and updates without incurring the cost of developer hours is essential. Learn how to evaluate ecommerce software solutions.
- A good sound system. Online video and interactive multi-media is where it’s at, both on the road and in ecommerce. To engage ecommerce site visitors, you should employ good product demonstration and promotional videos on your site, as well as video cases studies and client testimonials. Check out this example of a killer B2B video case study!
Whether you are shopping for a car or an ecommerce platform, your requirements are likely to be strikingly similar.Remember to consider all your options and make sure that the platform you choose meets all your needs for comfort, safety, and reliability.
Bonus tip: You would raise an eyebrow at the notion of someone giving you a free car, right? Even if they were on the level and it wasn’t stolen, chances are high it would need considerable repair or maintence. The same can be said for “free ecommerce software.” If an offer seems too good to be true, chances are, it probably is! Learn more about the “free ecommerce software myth.”
Ready to take your business to the next level? View the on-demand webinar, Ecommerce Best Practices for B2B and B2C.