Digital eCommerce in 2019

The promise of online commerce has a long and relatively rosy history. From the earliest days of shareware and the first aggregation portals on the web to the current mobile-driven synthesis between social media and social shopping, digital eCommerce is getting easier, faster and more reliable. Meanwhile, the number and type of products being made available around the world is both exciting and thought-provoking.

Key to the rapid adoption of current electronic commerce and data solutions are standardized frameworks that make it possible for simple components to be combined into more complex and more customized systems for various kinds of stores. A good example of this kind of specialization is the difference between single-purchase shops and membership or subscription sites. Both require similar infrastructure, but utilize it in completely different ways.

Mobile Focus 

At some point in 2017 there was a persistent and relatively credible rumor that mobile shopping had exceeded desktop shopping as a share of total holiday spending. At the same time, it turned out that while mobile browsing is very popular, some of those customers are still choosing to buy on their desktop devices.

Some of this can be put down to habit and personal preferences. Other times, it is because a site may not be properly optimized for mobile. Browsers unfortunately do not automatically present a site in a readable form on a mobile device like a phone or tablet. The basics of web development and the technologies used to make sites look presentable and functional on a desktop computer don’t translate on a one to one basis to mobile phones and tablets either.

The risk for merchants is a loss of business from a huge percentage of online visitors. If customers can’t see your products, can’t read what you have posted on your site, including reviews, and can’t operate the site to place orders, you may as well not have an ecommerce site at all. Therefore it is not only a good idea, it is an imperative that your site be responsive to mobile browsers and be easy to read and easy to operate on as many devices as possible starting with the most popular phones.

Standard Middleware 

Absent some kind of extraordinarily expensive and necessary customization, there is no reason for an ecommerce site to build their own middleware and customer management solutions in 2019. There are numerous frameworks available for shopping cart integration, payment processing, digital publishing and reviews and even video testimonials and product demonstrations. All of these various features can be built into sites with minimal additional effort and most can be had at little or no extra cost.

What every online merchant needs to understand is that any software being used in business not only has to be written and tested, it must also be maintained. Depending on the complexity level, this can be a commitment of anywhere from a few hours a week to a full time schedule. Further, the more software is being used, the more likely it is to require new features, expanded functionality and integration with upgraded databases, operating systems, hardware, networks and user interface improvements.

These are all tasks that are both necessary and completely outside the scope of your primary business. If you’re running an online store, you don’t have time to build extravagant commercial software systems. This is the primary reason, among numerous others, you should leave your infrastructure to a specialist and concentrate on your core business.  

Social Media 

As tempting as it is to presume that social media allows you to put your products in front of the world, the truth is social media is far more effective at draining every last moment of your available time and returning nothing even approaching its value. There are way to many social media platforms for you to master, especially as platforms for selling products. The best advice you can be given is to focus on one or two at the most, and become expert in using them to get visibility for your business and its products.

The alternative, without putting too fine a point on it, is burnout. Human beings simply cannot work at full efficiency if they are in a constant state of distraction and hurry, and if there is anything social media is good at, it is convincing people to pay attention when they should be working, and to do so right now.  

If, on the other hand, you can focus on a single platform and utilize it well enough to drive conversions, get visibility and establish a positive return in exchange for the time you invest, you have a very good chance of growing your business.

There are still people online who are nervous about handing over their payment information to a stranger, and given the constant drumbeat about identity theft and data breaches, they aren’t entirely misguided. As an online store, you have far more pressing problems gaining your customers’ trust without adding to your burden with malfunctioning sites, non-standard middleware and social media distractions. The best advice is to keep things as simple as possible and focus only on the things that actually generate revenues and profits.

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