There is a market of 30 billion dollars that grows every year, with a trend that will continue at least in the medium term: electronic commerce or e-commerce.
The Covid-19 pandemic boosted this business model between 2019 and 2020. The trend continued in 2022. In the case of the United States, the world’s leading economy, the rise in electronic commerce was 19%, according to the Statista outlook report.
These data demonstrate the value of e-commerce, the prospects in the medium term, and how it has become an indispensable means for business growth today.
But an online store or offering products through the Internet is not only about having a web page to offer them, but also the user experience must be transferred to the digital medium while taking advantage of the tools offered by the ecosystem of the web to get to know customers better, optimize costs, simplify processes, make the business more efficient in general.
For this, there is a series of tools that cover each one of the aspects of the business that go from the creation of the web page, optimization of the online and offline website to be found by the target audience through search engines, management of images, process automation, payment simplification, knowing the impact of marketing campaigns, to name a few.
In a world, as competitive as e-commerce is, taking advantage of digitization is imperative to be at the forefront, especially when it comes to knowing the customer, their preferences and improving the user experience.
Table of Contents
It all starts with the website. Today practically all companies have a website, but those who want to be part of e-commerce must adapt it for sales. This means including the necessary plugins to optimize the entire purchase process, from the deployment of products or services, through payment and shipping options (when applicable), to monitoring to have feedback on the process experienced by the customer.
Plugins are additional programs which take care of specific actions. They are usually part of the configuration of the platform used to create the page, but the variety of these will vary depending on the plan contracted with the venue that hosts the web page.
WordPress is one of the most popular, and within it, dozens of plugins can be incorporated into the virtual store (or are included depending on the plan). Sometimes, a monthly subscription must be paid for specific plugins.
When talking about an online store, one of the most used plugins in WooCommerce, which allows the creation of virtual stores, Approximately a quarter of e-commerce in the world is powered by WooCommerce.
It is an open-source program through which you can sell any product or service, from physical items, and online services, to content subscriptions, for example. Its integrations allow you to accept payments through various forms such as debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, electronic transfers, and Mercado Pago (Mercado Libre).
Likewise, it allows the registration of products, their editing, reactivation of an abandoned shopping cart, recurring payment, and Facebook store, to name some of the features of this plugin.
The fact that it is open-source software is one of its differentiating characteristics, allowing the company to connect with other software and thus maintain its identity in its online store. However, precisely the fact of having open source can be one of the complexities of the plugin since the integration of other software to WooCommerce may require programming professionals to develop it.
Leaving aside the functionalities of the payment process in the virtual store, other plugins that can be added are those such as Shipment Tracking, so that customers have the opportunity to track their orders; Menu Caching to optimize page load time; Automate Woo, as a marketing tool, to name a few.
The latter allows you to send follow-up emails to customers to get feedback on the product or service they purchased; identify inactive past customers to “target” them with automated marketing campaigns; generate personalized promotional coupons to improve sales, among other things.
One of the most critical aspects of e-commerce is that customers find the product through the Internet, that is, in search engines, especially new prospects. For this, SEO positioning (Search Engine Optimization, for its acronym in English) is essential; therefore, the content is displayed on the page.
Yoast is a plugin that allows you to quickly optimize your posts to be indexed by search engines. These publications can range from descriptions of products or services, the copy of the page to the content of the website’s blog, the latter highly recommended when having an online store, as it not only helps in the web positioning of the company but it is also a means to show relevant information on the subject to customers and gain brand credibility.
Images, Prices, Organization
When talking about electronic commerce, no aspect should be left aside, going through the images that are used, the configuration of the page to offer the best experience to the users, the organization of the products in this virtual showcase, the administration of the business, to mention a few. For each of them, you can find various tools for e-commerce that help optimize the business.
Perhaps one of the most superficial aspects, but of great value, is the images used in the virtual store. Especially regarding physical products, their graphic representation must be attractive enough to captivate the customer. However, this can make these images too heavy for the configuration of the page, which ends up affecting the loading speed of the website, with a negative effect on the user experience.
Broken links and duplicate content in the virtual store are other technical reasons that impair the user experience, but there are also simple tools that help detect them.
In the case of broken links (code 404), it is essential to detect them as soon as possible to remove them from the website and identify if another has replaced the page or if it is necessary to create a new page to replace said content. Broken links not only affect the user experience but also do not add any value from the point of view of the positioning of the business on the web.
Among the tools for e-commerce, Screaming Frog is one of the most used in the world, and there are also other options such as Siteliner. The job of this software is to deeply scan each one of the pages of the website, in this case, the virtual store, for a complete analysis of its technical details, including the presence of broken links or duplicate content. Screaming Frog also analyzes off-page elements of the page for SEO optimization.
One of the critical elements for the competitiveness of a business is its prices. Within a universe as expansive as e-commerce, it is quite a challenge to develop the best strategy, but there are also e-commerce tools designed for this.
Pricing software allows you to carry out a market study to obtain relevant data for the trade-in in terms of prices, such as the behavior of competitors, the price index against them, conversion rate, and profit margin of the products, among other things.
These tools not only focus on monitoring, but through them, tasks such as automatic repricing can be automated by following business rules if deviations are detected.
The store’s organization, based on the products displayed and administratively, can also be automated.
In the first case, some tools use artificial intelligence to create a user profile and, in this way, organize the items of the virtual store according to the preferences of said person, to maximize sales; Smart Hint is one of these tools for e-commerce.
Administrative operations such as invoicing, controlling cash flow, managing inventory, and managing accounts receivable and payable can be left to programs like Tiny ERP or Bling.
And although the use of a whole series of new tools for e-commerce can be a headache for the administrators of a virtual store, some programs allow the integration of different tools to simplify and optimize processes within electronic commerce.
For example, you can have sales software integrated with the CRM platform to follow up with customers when they cancel an order and get feedback on that decision.
There is a lot of information generated by each application that is an input for others.
Customer Management In E-commerce
Interaction with customers is always vital, even more so in an environment where they cannot be contacted physically but virtually. Within this specific context of e-commerce, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools play a fundamental role, as they allow all buyer information to be in one place.
This way, the strategy can be complemented with marketing campaigns, segment customers to send exclusive promotions and real-time metrics, and automate tasks such as sending emails after a purchase. These are just a few of the features.
Through this type of tool for e-commerce, customer satisfaction can be ensured through comprehensive experiences for users. Among the most used CRM software are Shopify and Hubspot.
Finally, once all the tools are in place, it will be necessary to evaluate the behavior of the virtual store, the marketing campaigns, and the user experience. All aspects must be measured to know what is being done well and what is not.
The business decisions that are made today must be based on data, and e-commerce is full of them. The best-known tool to analyze this data is Google Analytics, which allows you to have a global vision of the traffic that you have on the web page and identify where they come from, and how they interact on the page, among many elements that are analyzed and that are placed at the disposal of the administrators of the company.
In general, there are countless tools for e-commerce that can be used to automate and optimize each aspect of the business in a virtual store and whose objective is to help companies maximize profits within the new and competitive world of digital commerce.