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Technologies you need to build an ecommerce business

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If you think starting an online business is a fast and easy ticket to the lucrative business world, there are a lot of obstacles you may not have considered. Building an ecommerce business can be just as challenging as running any traditional business. You still need to develop a solid business plan, hire employees, manage marketing and sales efforts, manage orders, address your customers' concerns, and do a whole lot more. The only difference is that most of the work has to be done online.

While technology is crucial in any industry, ecommerce businesses rely on it to keep operations functioning smoothly. Whether it's your first business venture or you're trying to get your existing business online, you need to ensure you're using the best technology right from the start. In this blog, we're sharing some of the important technologies you need to run a successful ecommerce business.

Building an effective website 

It doesn't matter what type of business you run, a website is an absolute must if you're looking to establish a strong online presence. You need a professional business website to build your credibility, tell the world your story, and showcase your expertise in the industry. You can design and build an aesthetically appealing website relatively quickly, but there are two elements you need to consider carefully: your domain name and your hosting service provider. While they both serve different purposes, they are equally necessary for setting up a strong website. 

A domain name is a unique business address that people can use to find you on the internet. For example, Zoho's domain name is www.zoho.com. When someone types that domain name in their URL bar, they're brought directly to our website. It's best to keep your domain name short and similar to your business' actual name, so people can recognise it easily. But that said, getting the domain name of your preference is not easy. Domain names get picked quickly. So you need to act fast and check for availability on domain registrars like GoDaddy and Bluehost. From there, you'll need to purchase the right to use the domain name for a specific number of years. If you wish to continue reserving the domain name after the time expires, you may renew your purchase. 

But first, if you want your website to appear online, you need to secure a space on the internet. This is done through web hosting. You can rent space from a hosting service provider who will store all your website's text, images, and data. So when a person clicks on your domain name, the web host's servers will load your website and show it in the user's browser. While you have the option to host your website yourself, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain and run servers without the proper IT resources.

Once your website is hosted, you can set up a custom email address to make your business look more professional and credible. For example, if your business' name is "Glide Cakes," instead of having a generic email address like glidecakes@gmail.com, you can have it customised as contact@glidecakes.com. While most hosting service providers offer email hosting for free, you can still use popular third party email hosting services, like Zoho Mail, Office 365, and Fastgun to make use of more advanced features specific to your business' needs.

Added protection with SSL 

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a digital certificate given for website security. This certificate comes in many types and can be obtained from a certificate authority (an organisation responsible for verifying and issuing digital certificates) or an authorised hosting service provider. Certificate authorities must meet many criteria and undergo regular security audits from various operating systems and browsers, like Google, Safari, and Bing, to be listed as a trusted CA. If they don't, then the web browsers will display an error message to users until they acknowledge the risk of visiting a website with an SSL from an untrusted source. When your website SSL comes from a trusted certificate authority, all the data exchanged between browsers and servers gets encrypted, shielding your visitors' sensitive information from hackers and unauthorised sources. When people find that your website uses SSL technology (by identifying a padlock symbol or an HTTPS in their address bar), they can confidently purchase your products or services without worrying that their data may be compromised. Comodo SSL, DigiCert, and GeoTrust are a few popular certificate authorities recognised worldwide.

Choosing a strong ecommerce platform 

If you want to showcase and sell your products online, an ecommerce platform is exactly what you need. An ecommerce platform enables a business to set up an online store and sell products on the internet. Today, many cloud-based platforms have drag-and-drop builders and templates to help you design your ecommerce store to your liking. These platforms allow you to add ecommerce functionalities to your existing website or even build your platform from scratch with no coding or programming skills. Zoho Commerce, Shopify, Ecwid, and WooCommerce are some popular ecommerce platforms you can check out.

Seamless payment processing with payment gateway 

A payment gateway helps your business securely accept payments online. When a customer gets to your checkout page, the payment gateway sends their transaction details to the payment processor (an intermediary between your business's bank and the customer's bank). The gateway then notifies the customer whether their payment is approved or declined. It's always important to choose a payment gateway that accepts the cards and other payment modes your customers generally prefer. PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe are examples of popular payment gateways in Australia.

Efficient inventory management 

If you want to keep track of your orders and manage your stock effectively, you need an inventory management solution for your business. When you integrate inventory management software with your ecommerce store, you get a clear picture of current stock, low stock, and the other crucial information that helps you stay organised and refill products on time. Powerful inventory management software, like Zoho Inventory, can even analyse your sales trends to understand customer buying habits and generate insightful reports for you. Check out our blog to learn more about how inventory management software can help your business.

Chatbots for quicker customer support

When you run an online business, it's common for people to reach out to you with  concerns and questions regarding their purchases. But when the queries pile up, it can be impossible to attend to them on time. This is where a chatbot comes in handy. Chatbots are AI-enabled tools that can have a text conversation with users and offer basic assistance around the clock. You can programme them to understand your customer queries and automatically respond to frequently asked questions. You can also integrate your chatbot with a help desk solution to notify your support agents when human intervention is needed, and convert a chat into a ticket when you receive certain special requests or complaints.

You can try Zoho SalesIQ's Zobot™ if you're looking for a codeless chatbot builder for your website.

Data-driven decisions with website analytics 

If you want your online store to grow, you must actively keep track of what works on your website and what doesn't. One easy way to know that is through web analytics. Website analytics tools collect and analyse your website's data to help you understand your visitors' online behaviour. The analysis can help you make data-driven decisions with information like how many people visited your website, the external source that led them to your page, and which product pages get the most attention. While Google Analytics is a popular choice, there are a lot of powerful web analytics solutions with advanced features available that can help you uncover hidden insights. In fact, Zoho Pagesense lets you record and play back video showing how a visitor engages with your website. It also helps you analyse deeper with heat and scroll maps that show you what people click on, where they spend the most time on a page, and how far down they scroll.

Emerging technology trends in ecommerce

In addition to above listed technologies, incorporating new technology trends into your e-commerce business can help you meet the expectations of modern consumers and gain a competitive edge in the ecommerce market.

Live chat support 

A live chat feature on your ecommerce website lets your customers get quick answers to their queries directly from the support agent. This can significantly improve conversion rates for your business.

E-wallet integration 

Integrating popular E-wallet services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal can simplify the checkout process and offer a secure shopping experience for your customers.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) 

If you run an ecommerce business selling lifestyle or consumer goods, you can leverage AR and VR technologies to allow customers to virtually try on clothing,  and visualise products in a 3D environment. This can reduce the chances of returns and improve their overall shopping experience.

Voice search integration 

The rise in usage of voice assistants is changing the way customers shop. Consider optimising your ecommerce website or app for voice search to make it easier for customers to find and purchase products using voice commands.

Social search 

Social media can be an excelling platform to increase brand visibility and drive sales. Giving customers an option to purchase directly through social platforms can help find more leads and improve conversion rates.

Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options 

BNPL services like Zip, Afterpay and Klarna provide flexibility to shoppers by allowing them to make purchases and make payments spread through months. This can specifically attract budget-conscious consumers.

Click-and-collect services 

Implementing click-and-collect options can give customers the flexibility to order online and pick up their purchases in-store or at a designated location. This adds convenience and helps reduce delivery time.

We hope this post encourages you to use innovative technology and keep customer preferences in mind while building your ecommerce business. Are there any other topics you'd like us to cover? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Read next: 9 challenges for ecommerce businesses and ways to overcome them  



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