Online shopping cart software is much easier to use than it was ten years ago. Customers and merchants alike know what they want out of an eCommerce store. Innovative eCommerce platforms have made it easier than ever to start a successful online business. Over the years, features have been developed to improve all aspects of both buying and selling.
The only problem is that online store owners often don’t know where to start. With so many features available which ones are the most important? Which features will make the biggest difference in your eCommerce store’s success?
Of course, the value of some features depends on your business. The products you sell may benefit from custom product page design. Or maybe a page with customer success stories would help convert new visitors. In some industries, your products really do have specific needs.
At 3dcart, we tailor our software to be as simple to use as possible. At the same time, we continue to build new features that reflect the needs of our sellers. Current industry trends point to the need for certain features. As a result, our software comes equipped with a few extra bells and whistles. It's important to keep in mind that some of these extras might be more effective for one online merchant than another, and that's why you need to understand the evolving needs of your business and its customers.
However, there are some features that are necessary for every online store, regardless of what you sell. Our team of experts has put together this list of the top six needed features for successful online stores.
1. Multiple Payment Methods
Look at things from an online shopper’s perspective for a moment. Many of them have been bombarded with news stories about fraud, identity theft and hacking. As a consumer, you’re careful about how you spend money online, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, these fears often work against e-store owners.
As an online merchant, part of your responsibility is to help shoppers move beyond those fears. You can establish trust early on by making shoppers comfortable with your brand. If shoppers have access to their favorite payment options, this goes a long way toward their comfort. Most people are concerned about entering their credit card number on a website, so millions of customers today prefer to use alternate payment methods.
Some of these payment methods keep customer information safe by allowing shoppers to use their saved information to shop on other websites. This means customers don't have to worry about entering their card number on a website they may not trust yet. Others provide different options for paying safely.
It's not always about safety, however. Some customers prefer to use certain payment options out of sheer convenience. Providing them with this choice allows them to check out quickly and smoothly. That's the sort of buying experience that earns loyalty. The other side of this is that potential customers may turn away from your online store if they don’t see their favorite payment method listed.
This is why 3dcart offers more than just built-in credit card processing. Our merchants can choose from more than 200 external payment solutions with relative ease. If you accept the payment methods your customers want to use, they'll feel more secure and more welcome.
Here are some popular payment solutions available to 3dcart merchants:
- Amazon Pay: This option lets shoppers pay through their Amazon.com accounts.
- Apple Pay: Lets customers save their payment information in their iOS device and use it on every participating store.
- Google Pay: Allows customers to use their saved payment information in their Google Account, on Android devices and the desktop Chrome browser.
- PayPal Express: This method provides a quick and easy way for customers to complete online transactions using one of the web’s most popular payment solutions.
- Bitcoin: Bitcoin is a digital currency, a protocol and software that enables instant peer-to-peer transactions and worldwide payments with almost no processing fees.
- Dwolla: Dwolla’s payment network allows any business or person to send, request and accept money electronically. Unlike other payment companies that rely on credit/debit cards and charge excessive processing fees, Dwolla features a custom-built network that securely connects to a chosen bank account while allowing users to move money with ease and affordability.
- net eChecks: An established, trusted and recognized payment processing solution.
Offering customers multiple ways to complete their transactions is a necessity for building a successful online store.
2. A Customer Relationship Manager
It’s important to maintain the relationships you build with customers. If you can establish an army of loyal shoppers, you’ll have a renewable revenue stream, and that return business will play a pivotal role in your store’s continued success. Acquiring new customers is expensive, so you need to nurture your customers and get them to remain for the long term.
In order to establish and maintain loyal consumers, you’ll need a strong Customer Relationship Manager (CRM).
Customer relationship management software is a necessity for today’s business. Companies like Salesforce brought CRM software to the forefront of eCommerce. But Salesforce isn’t for everyone; it’s a robust product that makes the most sense for large, enterprise organizations.
If you’re a small-to-medium size merchant, you’ll want a CRM that effectively works for your eCommerce businesses.
The CRM you choose should give you the ability to:
- Automatically log transactions when customers submit a request via your website’s contact form.
- Make it easy to split customers into groups for special pricing, as well as targeted marketing and email campaigns.
- Easily manage communications with your customers.
CRMs come with other nifty features, too, and the ones listed above are just a few that will help you operate a successful online storefront. With a CRM like the one built into 3dcart, you’ll have a much simpler time earning and maintaining repeat business.
3. Analytics & Reporting
Numbers can be tough. But they’re essential to running a healthy, successful online store. Without them, it’s impossible to tell which strategies work and which fall short.
There are probably a handful of experienced e-store owners who are proficient in Google Analytics. Everyone else will need a built-in analytics system complete with tools for reporting that are both powerful and simple to use.
For business owners, collecting analytics is a great way to:
- See where new traffic is coming from and find ways to get more visitors.
- Figure out which email, social media and other marketing campaigns are performing well.
- Get a better sense of who your audience is.
Of course, there’s more to analytics than just the numbers. It helps to visualize and compare data through organized reports and charts. That way, you’ll get a comprehensive view of your business while being able to make the necessary adjustments needed to sell more.
3dcart is well equipped with analytics and reporting systems that generate sales, product, customer, shipping and business reports. Many of them also effectively track ROI that can easily integrate with Google Analytics (if you’re into that).
4. A Visible Shopping Cart
What exactly is a visible shopping cart, you ask? It’s a cart that sits on every page of your e-store, usually in a sidebar, displaying details like how many items the shopper plans to buy. Here, shoppers can get a quick assessment of what they’ve snagged so far as well as a reminder that they still need to pay for their items.
What your shopping cart widget displays is up to you. Some common items include:
- The total number of products.
- The total price of the order.
- A “Check Out” button.
- A button to access the shopper’s account.
Designing an online store with effective sales methods means shortening the path between the customer and the sale itself. Generally speaking, shoppers have even come to expect simplified transactions. That’s why it’s your job as an online merchant to make it easier to access the shopping cart quickly so you can shorten the purchase path and ensure a simpler buying experience.
5. Integration with Accounting Software
Effective accounting is an essential part of any solid business. Many new e-store owners sweat accounting, and we don’t blame them. Accounting can often seem like a daunting prospect in the beginning, and the fear of getting audited is a nightmare for many business owners.
Accurate accounting is necessary to maintain a well-organized backend. This platform should help you keep track of your sales and the tax that’s associated with them. Typically, you won’t find a specialized system included in your ecommerce software package. Luckily, 3dcart has got you covered!
We’ve put together tight integrations between our software and popular accounting solutions like:
- QuickBooks: QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software solutions on the market. With 3dcart, all you have to do is install the plug-in. Seconds later, you’re up and running with a completely synched business process.
- FreshBooks: FreshBooks is ideal for small business owners that spend a lot of time on mobile. It's a powerful, cloud-based accounting solution that's optimized for all devices.
- Avalara: Avalara is a full-featured tax management software that provides real-time tax calculations, simplifies filing, and more.
For more accounting tools provided by 3dcart, please visit the App Store and click on the “accounting” tab.
6. Reliable Hosting
Gone are the days of installing a bulky program on your desktop. Forget about making constant manual updates and buying large, expensive hardware. Everything has moved to the cloud, cutting costs for millions of businesses across the country.
Here’s the problem: To make the cloud work for you, you’ll have to partner up with a hosting provider that’s extremely reliable. Not every software host out there fits the bill. In fact, a surprising number of unreliable hosting companies exist.
The only way to know what kind of hosting you’re getting is to see what other people are saying. That’s one of the strengths of the web: customer reviews and feedback are readily available at a moment’s notice.
At 3dcart, we’re happy to say that we’ve received overwhelmingly positive reviews. We are so confident about our reputation for hosting that we invite you to search for as many reviews as you’d like.
Here’s a breakdown of our hosting delivery:
- 99% Uptime Guarantee: This means your site is accessible and loads quickly at least 99% of the time (factually speaking, we’re closer to 100%).
- Daily Backups: We’re prepared for calamity. It’s always important to have a backup, and that’s why we back up your data to other servers to make sure that not even a natural disaster could hurt our merchants.
- Accounts & Security: With 3dcart, you get VISA PCI certified maximum security. This means that 3dcart provides eCommerce hosting according to the most rigorous online security standards in order to keep your information, and your clients, safe.
Make sure your store is secure and reliable, and you’ll soon be on your way to eCommerce success.
And There's More
There's far more to 3dcart than these six must-have features. As an industry leader, we have more out-of-the-box features than any other platform. Other eCommerce software pales in comparison. With 3dcart, you get everything you need. From our powerful and customizable website design templates, to a full suite of email marketing tools, 3dcart has it all. And unlike other platforms, you won't need to spend extra on apps just to get a feature you rely on.
Check out our feature list and you'll see why we claim to be the best online shopping cart software. And if you want to learn more about selling online, visit 3dcart's eCommerce University for additional content that will help you build an online store successfully in no time.
We've also put together a free ebook for you, which you can download below.