If you’re in the market for an ecommerce solution, it’s important to have a clear picture of what features you need your ecommerce system to offer. Below is a checklist of some of the features you might want to put on your must-haves list:
SEO Optimized – Make sure any ecomm system you are considering creates Title Tags and URLs that are optimized for search engines.
Gift Cards – Do you want to sell gift cards? If so you need a system that sells and accepts them. Customer should be able to buy gift cards in varying amounts, spend the cards in varying amounts and check gift card balances.
Customer Rewards Program – Do you want to offer a customer rewards program? If so make sure your ecommerce system is set up to administer it. That means awarding points and allowing customers to redeem them for specific things.
Social Bookmark Plugins – Want customers to spread your content around the web? Then you’ll need an ecomm site that allows you to insert social bookmarking plugins like Add This
Wish List – If you want customers to be able to create wish lists, you’ll need a system that allows customers to create a wish list, share their wish list and allows others to look up the wish lists of friends and family.
Sale Pricing – If you want customers to see a mark down on an item, you’ll need a system that displays current price and previous price.
Product Feeds – If you want your products in a feed for programs like Google Products, Bing Shopping or Shopzilla you’ll want an ecomm system that can create these feeds for you.
Site Search – Do you want customers to be able to search your site for products? If so you’ll need a robust search tool. A great search tool allows you to do keyword tagging on your products, accounts for typos and gives you reporting data on what customers searched on your site.
Merchandising – Do you want to add products to multiple categories? Maybe you want to display holiday ornaments in home decor AND gifts under $10.00. You’ll need a system that allows you to create unlimited categories and add products to more than one.
Product Options – Do your items come in varying sizes or colors? If so you’ll need a cart that enables you to display that information to customers. You’ll want customers to have fields to select product color, product size, etc.
Product Photos – You’ll probably want to display several photos of each product, so make sure your system enables multiple product images.
Cross-Sells – Showing related or similar products on product pages and view cart pages can increase average order value, so this may be a feature you’ll want to look for.
Custom Layouts – Online marketers test the heck out of product page layouts to see what helps boost conversions. Don’t get stuck in a system that forces you into one template. You may want to move elements of your pages around and run tests to see which layouts are most effective.
Coupons – Do you want to offer coupons? If so what kind? Free shipping? Free shipping within a certain country? 10% off? $10 off? Do you want the coupon to require a minimum spend? Do you want the coupon to only apply to certain items? If so you’ll need a sophisticated coupon tool that allows you to create an accept these types of coupons.
Guest Checkout – A lot of customers find it very annoying to have to create an account to buy things. You may want a system that accepts checkouts without creating an account.
Account Management – Alternately, you may want to allow frequent buyers to create accounts. You’ll want to make sure customers can access their account info to change things also such as email address or billing and shipping info.
Payment Integration – Make sure you pick a cart that integrates with the payment methods you accept.
Cart Persistence – You may want to save the contents of a customer’s cart for them. What if they add items to their cart and come back a few days later to complete their order? It’s best to save their selections for them, so you’ll want a system that does this.
Order Confirmation Emails – Customers expect to see an email confirming their order. Make sure the system you select generates one, and make sure it’s something you can customize.
Gift Options – Do you offer gift wrap or gift notes? If so you’ll want fields on your checkout forms that allow customers to indicate if an item is a gift and include a gift note.
Shipping and Taxes
Sales Tax – Do you charge sales tax? If so you’ll want an ecommerce system that automatically calculates the taxes and adds them to your order totals.
Shipping Options – Do you charge flat rate? Do you charge shipping based on weight or number of items? Do you have different shipping options? Do you charge different rates depending on destination? Shipping rules can be extremely complicated so make sure you select a system that can accommodate your shipping rules. You may also want to have a tool that does shipping calculations on your product pages. Customers like to know what shipping will be before they get to checkout.
Order Status – Do you give customers a delivery confirmation number? Do you want them to be able to check order status? If so you’ll want a back end tool that allows you to enter order status info and a front end tool that allows customer to look up order status.
Reporting – Do you want to know your gross sales? Your net sales? Your best sellers? Your busiest day of the week? Your busiest period in the month? An ecommerce tool with reporting information can help you pull this information, so you can more effectively make decisions about your business.
Order Management – Do you need a system that helps you keep track of orders internally? Do you need to use your ecommerce system to keep track of what has shipped, what is being returned, etc. If so a tool that manages order status for you or your staff is essential.
Customer Management/CRM – Do you need a tool to keep track of customer emails, phone calls, feedback, etc? A CRM that’s built into your ecommerce system can help you store and organize this information.
Open Source – Sometimes you just need to get into the guts of your system. Maybe you need a feature that doesn’t exist in any ecommerce system out of the box. For those situations, you’ll want to look for a system that allows you to access and modify the source code.
Inventory Management – Do you need a system that keeps track of what’s in stock, what’s out and what’s running low? Maybe you want to be alerted when your stock level drops to a certain number. Some ecommerce systems have built in inventory management and can deduct inventory as items are sold or even add inventory as returns are accepted.
Inventory Notices for Customers – A really good system will allow customers to indicate that they want to be notified when an out of stock product comes back to the store. The system will then email them when your inventory is replenished. You may also want to look for an option that alerts cart abandoners when you are about to run out of a product, in case they want to complete their order before the item is no longer available.