It is not difficult to set up an e-commerce website. You may concentrate on creating great products and advertising your brand while leaving the technical aspects to a software company—and you won’t even need an engineering degree. While you don’t need to be a coder, it’s critical that you understand the basics of what your website hosting provider offers in terms of e-commerce capabilities, and this issue is relevant even after you’ve launched your e-commerce business.
Stergios Anastasiadis, Director of Engineering at Shopify (14-Day Free Trial at Shopify), spoke with me about the most crucial technology found on an e-commerce website and what you should know to get started. Anastasiadis explained, “We have vendors selling items out of their homes.” “All you need is an internet connection, and any effective commerce platform should be able to manage your site’s technology for you.”
Your vendor will first and foremost assist you in determining the appearance and feel of your website. It will also allow you to store all of your data and assist you in completing and completing transactions. These are only a few of an e-commerce provider’s most evident responsibilities. Aside from that, there’s a lot you should know about the technology your partner is utilizing to make sure your website is functional, successful, and safe.
1. Safety of the website
You want to keep hackers out of your e-commerce site. The best websites use 256-bit Transport Sockets Layer (TLS) encryption, which ensures a secure connection from beginning to finish for all data and transactions on your site. If a browser or operating system (OS) presently supports TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1, it will need to be upgraded to meet the TLS 1.2 standard. TLS has supplanted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) as the industry standard for network communications security. All data is secured from the time someone visits your website until the time they leave.
Using Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure (HTTPS) instead of plain old HTTP to power your website is a simple approach to accomplish this. The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are combined when using HTTPS. HTTPS is an obvious candidate for any online web transaction that requires privacy—so much so that, since January 2017, Google Chrome has warned any non-HTTPS site requesting log-in or credit card information as “non-secure.”
Furthermore, e-commerce software should have a payment processing tool that can add an extra layer of protection to the cart and payment parts of a transaction. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance is provided by products like Stripe, which integrate with e-commerce systems without forcing you to do any more work on your end.
2. Website Efficiency
If a customer considers your website too slow, but your competitor’s website is lightning fast, you’re likely to lose that business. Your pages should take less than 100 milliseconds to load (ms). If the website doesn’t load in that time, your e-commerce vendor should be working on a remedy on the back end before you even know.
Your e-commerce vendor will almost certainly have technicians on staff who are continually analyzing page load speeds with website monitoring tools to guarantee that your website is performing at its best. If the webpages are having trouble for any reason, the staff is normally notified by email or phone that there is a problem. Keep in mind that these load speeds apply to both mobile and online, so keep track of how your website performs on different platforms.
3. Adjust the size to fit your needs
Depending on the size and load of a business, e-commerce services have different resource requirements. Depending on what happens to your load speeds when traffic to your page increases, you’ll want to scale your website swiftly and easily.
You’ll need to scale your platform to fulfill these needs if your inventory grows quickly or you need to support high-volume activities like Flash sales and seasonal offers, or you risk customers becoming irritated with your site’s speed and switching to another business. To avoid problems, keep an eye on traffic and peak user load periods, and adjust server resources accordingly.
Scaling server requirements is simple if you or your e-commerce site provider use a cloud provider that is based on a trustworthy Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform. You’ll be able to scale your server power to your heart’s content with just a few mouse clicks if you employ such a platform. Even better, unlike working with actual servers, where unused power just stays black while costing you the same, you’ll only pay for this extra muscle for as long as you need it.
4. Prioritize mobile.
Most e-commerce services now assist you in developing your website for mobile devices before even considering a desktop. That’s because most information that works on mobile will also work on desktop, but not the other way around.
“With more people shopping on their phones than ever before,” Anastasiadis added, “optimizing e-commerce websites for mobile is important.” “Features created using a mobile-first interface can provide merchants with additional flexibility and scale from a technical standpoint.”
If a potential vendor informs you that they are developing “web-first” and will convert to mobile later, you should generally walk away. Regardless of the other aspects of the business that make it appealing, such an antiquated attitude will place your website at a disadvantage from the start.
5. Hosting on the Cloud
Your data will most likely be stored in the cloud by your service provider, which will most likely be Amazon, Google, or Microsoft. Investigate variables such as backup, disaster recovery (DR), security, and uptime to determine which service you want.
If you operate your own service, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all excellent choices, but you may prefer one of the three or even a different provider. It’s vital to choose one of these because it’ll determine how often your website goes down, whether or not your saved data is safe, and even whether or not you’ll be able to access it again if a tragedy strikes.
6. Updates to the website
Your website isn’t something you can “set and forget.” You’ll want a vendor who can update your website with fresh code on a regular basis to improve performance or add new features. Unfortunately, some vendors only release fresh code every day or every few of days. You need a provider who can deliver code at any time of day. You’ll never have to wait for problems to be fixed or for bright new features to appear on your homepage if you do it this way.
However, you’ll want reliable information of when these code modifications go live, especially if they’re not directly tied to the front end of your website but rather to the provider’s back-end operations. Those kinds of things normally work great, but there’s always the possibility that they’ll break something on your page. You’d like to know when those updates will take place, preferably with a testing window in advance. If that isn’t a possibility, you’ll need a precise deployment schedule so you can perform your own site testing as soon as new code is deployed.
7. Information Technology
Inquire if your prospective e-commerce provider has a specialized data engineering team on staff that can assist you in creating unique reports about the success of your website. This research can help you figure out if your products are in the right spot, if consumers are abandoning their carts too often, or if you need to rethink your website navigation entirely.
Sure, most vendors provide out-of-the-box reporting, but if your vendor doesn’t have a team dedicated to creating custom reports for you, you’ll have to hire a third party to help you when the time comes. That will cost you more money and cause you unnecessary stress. The good news is that almost every company provides this service in some form or another, and the tools that surface the statistics are regularly updated.
This feature is also useful when utilizing business intelligence (BI) tools like Tableau Desktop to analyze your site’s statistics (14-Day Free Trial at Shopify). When you need deeper insights into how your clients behave on your website, what products or services they choose or reject, and other knowledge points, you’ll need to use a BI solution. Ascertain that your provider can assist you in gathering the transactional data required for this type of study. In addition, to acquire further insights, customize a data warehousing option in your platform. For larger merchants, services like Shopify provide a fully managed data warehouse as well as standardized reporting tools.
8. Integrations with Third Parties
You undoubtedly already utilize a variety of applications to manage your business, even if you’re a tech newbie. It’s critical to be able to link all of your tools in order to streamline workflows and improve data intelligence. If you use MailChimp for email marketing (14-Day Free Trial at Shopify), for example, connecting your marketing and e-commerce platforms guarantees that “Thank You” and promotional emails are linked to the website. This gives you more control on who bought what, which promotions were successful, and whether you can regain customers who abandoned their shopping carts.
Finally, look for an e-commerce solution that has native integrations with as many third-party applications as feasible. The more native integrations you have, the more toolset expansion choices you’ll have.