WooCommerce Wednesdays: Why a flexible ecommerce platform is vital to your business
Having a flexible ecommerce platform is essential to creating a great shopping experience for your buyers. As an ecommerce site, you want the ability to add any feature or functionality to your store while also having the freedom to design your frontend however you’d like.
And in the rapidly growing world of ecommerce, you need flexibility to adapt quickly to shifts in consumer behavior.
Because investing in an ecommerce platform is such a big decision — and because changing platforms can be a hassle — it’s important to adopt a flexible solution early in the life of your business. In this post, we’ll examine the qualities that improve platform flexibility and why WooCommerce is a robust, flexible option for creating a standout online shop.
What makes a flexible ecommerce platform?
Ability to customize
A truly flexible ecommerce platform gives you the ability to mold the solution to meet the custom needs of your business. You can add new modules at will and you have the ability to tweak them as needed.
Off-the-shelf ecommerce platforms that only let you make basic frontend changes limit your creativity and your ability to add new features to your site. This is because many of these template-based platforms do not let you modify the platform’s code.
When you want to add features or designs outside the platform’s basic offering, you often have no choice but to adopt a new platform.
These solutions can make it easier to get started, saving you time in the process. But in the long run, they can ultimately end up being more expensive and time-consuming as you need to implement new tools and work more to overcome the software’s limitations.
An ecommerce platform is more than just a place for customers to make transactions. It should also serve as a central hub for you to manage your business. Your business will use several other applications and systems so it’s important that your ecommerce platform is able to connect to these tools.
A flexible platform integrates seamlessly with your other business systems, whether it’s an email marketing service, customer relationship management (CRM) software, ERP, or other. You can sync data between solutions and automate processes so that you do not need to hop between platforms to repeat manual tasks.
In addition to your internal systems, a flexible ecommerce platform should be able to connect to external marketplaces, social media platforms, and other sales channels.
Today’s buyers shop and discover products through multiple channels and their purchases include several touchpoints before becoming customers.
It takes some work to list your products on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart and integration with your ecommerce store can help simplify the process.
With a multichannel connection, you can seamlessly push your product offerings to marketplaces. This saves you from having to manually upload all your products to multiple platforms.
Plus, a multichannel integration will sync your sales and inventory across channels. Doing so ensures that you always have accurate stock for every channel, helping to prevent you from overselling items you don’t have on hand.
Similarly, if you sell in person, you need a platform that connects to your in-person point of sale (POS) systems.
As your business takes off, you’ll likely look to scale it to reach more customers. However, scaling your site can quickly become a nightmare if you use a platform not built to handle your growth.
Many businesses make the mistake of using a plug-and-play platform that is restricted to predefined templates and purchase flows. These allow you to get up and running quickly, but they won’t allow you to implement new functionalities as your business grows and consumers expect new features.
A flexible ecommerce platform supports your business, both now and in the future.
It enables you to evolve while accommodating the complex features needed by a growing ecommerce business. More importantly, will continue running at peak level even as you gradually drive more and more users through your store.
There’s nothing worse than having your site go down when shoppers are looking to buy. Having a flexible, scalable ecommerce solution will give you confidence that your site can handle many users, including large traffic spikes.
Web hosting plays a big part in the health and performance of your ecommerce site. Strong hosting ensures that your site is always available and that your pages load quickly.
When it comes to hosting for ecommerce platforms, you can choose to adopt either a hosted or self-hosted solution.
With a hosted platform, the platform provider handles all aspects of hosting and maintaining the site. This includes everything from IT and server infrastructure to website security. Self-hosted platforms aren’t hosted by the platform provider. They require you to set up your own hosting environment and add the solution to your site.
Naturally, self-hosted platforms offer much more flexibility than hosted platforms. They aren’t bound to a single hosting provider and you’re free to use your preferred service. This means that if you outgrow your provider or seek to change your service for any reason, you can do so.
Support for any business model
An ecommerce platform isn’t flexible if it can’t adapt to different business models. For instance, your business might follow a subscription model in which customers subscribe for recurring deliveries instead of purchasing individual products.
In this case, you need a platform that easily lets you list and sell subscription products. Furthermore, you need the backend functionality for your customers to manage these subscriptions.
What makes WooCommerce a highly flexible ecommerce platform?
Built as a plugin for the WordPress content management system (CMS), WooCommerce offers unparalleled flexibility for store owners looking to maximize their store’s functionality while having the freedom to control every detail of the site’s design.
Because the platform is open source, it offers unlimited customizations.
There are thousands of WooCommerce-compatible WordPress themes that you can use as the building blocks for your site. With access to the CSS style sheets, you can always add any custom code to tweak the designs how you’d like.
Additionally, as a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce has the benefit of being part of the massive WordPress community. Being popular open-source solutions, there are many developers that create tools to extend WooCommerce and WordPress functionality.
You can find WooCommerce plugins to add specific features for shipping, analytics, product management, payments, or any other area of your ecommerce store.
With the right plugins, WooCommerce can adequately serve the needs of any online business.
WooCommerce also comes with a robust REST API that you can use to extend the functionality of your online store. With it, you can interact with your site’s data to perform various operations including creating, creating, updating, and deleting different types of information.
For instance, with the products API, you can change product information such as sales price, SKU, description, and quantity.
The WooCommerce API also enables you to connect additional external platforms to your WooCommerce store. The API handles requests in JSON format and uses WordPress REST API Authentication methods and standard HTTP verbs which are understood by most HTTP clients.
Adaptable for different business models
Another great aspect of WooCommerce is the ability to sell anything. Whether you want to sell an assortment of physical goods or a digital product, the platform makes it easy to list a variety of product types. This also includes subscriptions, memberships, and appointments.
Made for growth
WooCommerce is a highly scalable platform, working for both businesses large it small. It can handle thousands of products in your catalog while supporting hundreds of concurrent web visitors without suffering performance issues.
And with countless plugins and the ability to tweak your code, the platform’s functionality can grow to meet your expanding business needs.
Flexibility is a key consideration when choosing an ecommerce platform and it can have a big impact on the future health of your business. A flexible ecommerce platform will scale with your business while giving you the freedom to better control the look and function of your site.