Off the shelf eCommerce systems are readily available on the internet such as Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Magento to name a few. With so many options available, it is really hard to know which system to use for your specific business model. This article aims to supply you five important features of eCommerce systems so that you can decide for yourself which system suits your internet business the best.

Catalog Management

Catalog management is an important facet of any eCommerce solution. A good catalog management would give you the ability to manage all your products in a simple to use interface. Ideally the catalog should include batch import and export capability as this is an important feature when you have many products to upload and maintained on your site. This one feature can help you save tons of time by doing a mass upload or download of products to setup or update your catalog. Imagine how much time can be lost if you have to input hundreds or thousands of products onto your website — manually. The catalog should also allow you to manage the prices and inventory of your products easily. The catalog should also have a scheduler to let you schedule sale prices of your products automatically. When browsing your catalog, the system should also include a filters and a built in search facility that can help you find your products easily.

Marketing and Promotions Tools

Marketing and promotion is quite important for your eCommerce site. An effective eCommerce store needs occasional online promotions and marketing campaigns to keep your customers coming back and make that important purchase. Make sure your eCommerce system permits you to create and manage discount coupons with qualifications and time limits. A good system would also let you create and manage pricing rules for members and non-members. Ideally there should be options to let you up-sell and cross sell your products, including bump offers. These tools are essential for your site to gain and retain customers.

Shipping and Delivery Features

Depending on the kind of products you sell in your online shop, a well-designed delivery and shipping module is important for your eCommerce site. The delivery/shipping module is the most important feature for your customers. The system should allow your visitors to pick the types of delivery options for their order and should auto calculate for the delivery charges. In addition to these, it is also important that you know what are the carriers supported and how easy it is for you to integrate the carriers into your system. For example DHL and FedEx provides real-time shipping rates so you will need to be able to integrate them into your eCommerce system.

Payment Methods

Similar to transport and delivery, the payment method is just among the most important feature in an eCommerce system. Getting paid is the ultimate goal of most eCommerce site selling products and subscriptions. Your eCommerce system should support the popular payment gateways and systems for your audience. Stripe and would cover most US buyers and PayPal is good for non US buyers. Your website visitors should also be given the freedom to choose from a list of different payment options such as debit, credit, or eCheck.

Search Engine Optimization

The final important feature of my list is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) feature in the eCommerce system. SEO is quite important in all eCommerce websites. Your services and products will need to be crawled and indexed by search engines. Without SEO, your potential customers would not be able to find you using a regular Google search. You can market your products to the by other means such as paid or social but SEO has its merits. To be search engine optimized, your eCommerce system should generate for you search engine friendly (SEF) URLs, create sitemaps and product feeds automatically. The sitemap and product feed will also need to be submitted to the major search engines for indexing. The ability to enter product metadata, review and schema are icing on the cake but if not included out of box an extension or plugin can provide these features for a richer search experience.

By knowing you goals and store vision, you should be able to decide for yourself which eCommerce system is ideal for your company. These important features of an eCommerce system will allow you to operate and manage your site economically and efficiently. If you still cannot decide which system is ideal for your business needs, I recommend consulting with a specialist to help with understanding your needs and finding the best fit. Your expert can provide the best solution and save you time and money in the long run. There are also custom solutions available outside of the big name products so do your due diligence before committing substantial time and money into a system.

Over To You

Let me know if this was helpful by adding a rating. If you have ever used an eCommerce system before, which one and what was your experience? What is an important feature for you that was not mentioned above? Also, if you are still on the fence with eCommerce, what is holding you back from getting started? Post in the comments below.