E-commerce

What to look for in a B2C ecommerce platform
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In the vast ocean of online shopping, where an estimated 12–24 million ecommerce websites are struggling to stay afloat, how do you transform your business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce platform from a baby minnow to an attention-grabbing shark?

Digital commerce storefronts are plentiful, and potential customers are deluged with options, so making your ecommerce business stand out in the crowded pool of B2C companies with years of experience may be difficult. For new ecommerce sites, it may be nearly impossible; in fact, the average ecommerce conversion rate is only 1.3%.  

Despite this environment dominated by the likes of Amazon, many small businesses and new B2C commerce companies do become market disruptors. How do they pull it off? The best way to assess what works in B2C ecommerce is to check out the market leaders, whose case studies have some key operational techniques in common.

What is a B2C ecommerce platform?

You probably know them simply as online stores; some are huge online marketplaces. B2C ecommerce platforms are the sites (and apps) that cater and sell directly to consumers.  

A B2C ecommerce platform, then, is a software solution that enables online retailers to create, manage, and operate an online store that serves end consumers. It provides all the tools to deliver a seamless shopping experience that showcases products, processes payments, handles shipping logistics, and streamlines the online retail ecommerce experience.

What do the best B2C commerce platforms have in common? 

What sets the sharky B2C ecommerce platforms apart from the little fish? How does a B2C retailer pull ahead by captivating its customer demographic?

Despite some differences in B2C business models, the leading platforms share quite a few practices and engage in similar marketing efforts that contribute to their success. Here are a few key ecommerce solution essentials:

An intuitive user experience 

The best B2C ecommerce platforms provide a seamless, user-friendly journey for shoppers, making it easy to navigate, search, find their perfect items, and complete transactions. A good example is Etsy, which offers an extremely inviting, colorful, and engaging storefront plus easy navigation and search.

An appealing user interface

The best B2C ecommerce platform UIs look visually pleasing, which conveys a positive vibe and engages users, encouraging them to explore and shop. Bigcommerce does this well — it offers a variety of customizable templates in different styles and for different industries; businesses can quickly create an attractive online store.

Mobile optimization

Is your site easy to use when someone is looking at your mobile app on their smartphone? The best B2C ecommerce platforms are known for seamless, user-friendly experiences on mobile devices, ensuring easy accessibility. A positive on-the-go browsing experience engages users, encouraging them to explore and shop. 

Woocommerce is a good example: it supports a range of responsive mobile-optimized themes that cater to various industries and tastes, enabling a business to efficiently set up an attractive and navigable online store for mobile users. 

Fast page loading

Leading B2C ecommerce platforms provide efficient, rapid page loading, ensuring that your website expediently delivers content across multiple devices. This contributes to a satisfying customer journey, allowing people to explore and buy without delays. 

Magento embodies this well: it offers performance-enhancing features and robust caching mechanisms, tailored for different industries and preferences, so that businesses can set up  fast-loading, responsive online stores.

Accurate search-engine results

Relevant, near-real-time search UX functionality is another essential element for a successful B2C ecommerce platform, ensuring that shoppers can instantly zero in on their desired products and information.

Shopify Plus, for example, integrates with Algolia’s search and discovery solution, which utilizes advanced algorithms and comprehensive filtering options, allowing online businesses of all types to provide visitors with relevant search results.

Secure payment

Allowing users to make worry-free purchases creates trust in the shopping experience. Quality B2C ecommerce platforms supply dependable payment security, ensuring that customers can confidently pull out their credit card and check out.

Square Online, for example, supports secure payment gateways that cater to a range of industries and preferences, letting businesses offer shoppers reliable payment methods that safeguard their financial information.  

Seamless order fulfillment

Top-tier B2C ecommerce platforms have streamlined order processing, which ensures a hassle-free experience for business owners as well as shoppers. 

Volusion is one good example: its comprehensive order management system automates multiple aspects of order fulfillment, allowing businesses to swiftly deliver products to customers without complications. 

Excellent customer support

Want to build trust and loyalty? The best B2C ecommerce platforms prioritize exceptional customer service, ensuring that shoppers receive timely assistance when needed. Wix, for example, offers a dedicated support team, in-depth help articles, and community forums, ensuring that users can quickly find answers and solutions.  

Shopping personalization

Shark-level B2C ecommerce platforms provide personally tailored experiences facilitated by AI, making it easy to discover relevant products and offers. This improves customer engagement and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases. 

Algolia’s personalization engine empowers businesses to customize content and promotions based on online behavior and preferences. By integrating personalization functionality at the right touch points in an ecommerce store, a business owner can potentially improve their conversion and ROI. 

Should you upgrade your site technology? 

By now, you’re probably convinced that the right B2C ecommerce software can enhance your company’s online presence and drive growth. But with an abundance of available options, you may find it a bit overwhelming to make decisions about the best ways to improve your site’s ecommerce functionality. 

Here are some key indications of the best ecommerce platforms’ success:

  • Enhanced functionality: A robust product-catalog-management system and advanced search engine can streamline your operations and win over your end users.
  • Scalability: With the flexibility to handle increasing traffic, sales volume, and catalog expansion, a cloud-based B2C website and content delivery network can accommodate growth of your B2C business customer base. 
  • Data-driven decision-making: Web analytics tools and dashboards provide access to valuable data and insights about your retail ecommerce shopper behavior — everything from what they put in their shopping cart to which add-ons they select at checkout. These tools can help you get on top of your ecommerce sales trends and website performance. 
  • Easy integration: Some ecommerce technologies let you integrate your site with third-party services and tools such as CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, and shipping providers. A commerce solution that supplies seamless collaboration and data sharing typically enhances efficiency.
  • A superior customer experience: Responsive web design, omnichannel options (multiple sales channels, encompassing, for example, physical stores and social media platforms), a personalized recommendation engine, and live chat support translate to an online business known for a winning shopper experience. 
  • A competitive edge: In the cutthroat B2C ecommerce market, integrating AI-powered personalization tools and marketing automation software to impress your target audience enables better understanding of and communication with your customers. 

Swim with the sharks 

Motivated to turn your ecommerce company into something with bite —  to improve your online sales and increase your market share by incorporating the latest ecommerce features?

Regardless of how you go about it, you’re not likely to regret implementing the B2C ecommerce solutions your business needs to thrive. Algolia’s SaaS search and recommendations are ready to assist. Contact us or request a free demo of our API today!

About the authorVincent Caruana

Vincent Caruana

Senior Digital Marketing Manager, SEO

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