An ecommerce platform is a software application that allows online businesses to manage their website, sales and operations.
Ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce offer the powerful features needed to run a business, while also integrating with common business tools — enabling businesses to centralize their operations and run their business their way.
Whether you're expanding a brick-and-mortar store, looking to switch solutions, or even starting a business from scratch, your choice of ecommerce platform has a huge impact on the profitability and stability of your business.
The only real alternatives to using an ecommerce platform are
There are many ways to classify or break down the different types of ecommerce platforms, but let's start with two easy distinctions:
In addition to scalability and protection of your data safely, ecommerce platforms, whether hosted on premise or in the cloud, offer a handful of operational benefits and business tools. These include:
Ecommerce platforms offer businesses the ability to customize product information and how it's solicited to best fit their own online retail needs, which can be a mutual benefit for both the business and its customers.
Every business has unique needs, and choosing the right solution is wholly dependent on a platform's ability to solve the day-to-day challenges inherent within your organization.
There are, however, some basic things you should find out about prospective provider:
a)Do they integrate with social media platforms?
Social commerce is getting more important by the day. Advertising to social media users is a must if you want to capture a massive and engaged audience. Facebook alone boasts over 1.94 million active monthly users. That's a lot of potential customers.
BigCommerce offers built-in integrations with Facebook and Pinterest so you can market to users directly in their news feeds or main accounts. With the advent of Buyable Pins and Facebook Shop, you can even sell directly to users without them needing to leave their platform of choice.
b) Do they limit the number of products I can sell?
Maybe you have offer a wide assortment of products, or perhaps a significant number of variants for your basic product line. This can add up to a lot of SKUs, and some platforms are better than others when it comes to SKU count.
If you have a large catalog or plan to grow your business, choosing a platform with low SKU limits essentially restricts the upside of your business.
c) Can I talk to a real person when I need help?
You're inside an ecommerce platform every single day. No matter how intuitive the design or straightforward the features, at some point, you may need assistance. And when that time comes, it's good to know that you can get ahold of a real-life-person to assist you with the problem.
Some platforms outsource their customer service and make it difficult — or practically impossible — to call in and get help when you need it most. At BigCommerce, we feel that every one of our customers is entitled to personalized customer support.