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CMS for your eCommerce store experts Supple
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In the age of evolving and changing technology, running a successful online retail store requires you to have the technical know-how as much as business acumen. Whether you are just starting out and setting up your online store or scaling up your current eCommerce operations.

More than 58% of online visitors buy something online every week.

To successfully tap into this opportunity, it is important to choose the right CMS to back up your eCommerce website. But it is definitely easier said than done. 

There are several factors to be considered in this process, and mistakes could result in losses or worse — a poor online shopping experience for customers. So, do not hesitate to involve an SEO agency that can complement this project with their expertise.

Let us start by looking at the primary factors that you should consider while picking a CMS for your website (with quite a bit of help from experts).

Factors to Consider While Selecting an eCommerce CMS

Your Content Management System (CMS) defines the way your website will perform and serve your business goals. Finding the right eCommerce CMS requires you to embark on a journey of arduous research and assessment.

Utility of CMS

Many content management systems promote themselves as the one true “best eCommerce CMS” — but it is not that simple. In reality, the right CMS for your business depends a lot on your business type and needs. So, what’s working for your top competitor may not necessarily be the right fit for you.

Even though opting for top ecommerce CMS such as Shopify and WooCommerce may seem like the logical choice, you need to consider whether the CMS actually aligns with your goals.

“Your choice of CMS will always be highly dependent on the type of business you have and the resources you will have available to you. For example, Shopify is great for start-up e-commerce businesses with little resources or enterprise businesses with loads of resources. On the other hand, if you’re a medium-sized e-commerce store with loads of product variations I’d rather go for something like WordPress with Woocommerce because you’ll likely still need to have some custom development work done which works out a lot cheaper due to the ubiquity of WordPress developers.”, says Andy Chadwick, Co-Founder of Snippet Digital and Keyword Insights.

Andy Chadwick eCommerce CMS Supple

So, the first and foremost aspect that you need to consider when selecting an eCommerce CMS platform is whether its features are useful for your website. Remember to run a test for assessing usability before narrowing down on a CMS.

Resource Requirements

Many eCommerce companies consider the purchase of a CMS to be the answer to all their needs and queries. Most CMSs offer WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editors that allow you to easily create an attractive website without any major technical expertise along with advanced features for content optimisation.

But even with these fast and highly efficient editors, you will need every bit of extra help you can get to create a website tailored to your business. So, while choosing an eCommerce CMS for your business, you need to assess the number of resources you will probably require for having your website up and running. 

“Most eCommerce brands that are just starting out often undermine the importance of budgeting for the resources they will need after settling on a CMS. Resources such as a developer, a content manager who is adept with the chosen CMS, and other technical personnel will keep your website up and running at all times” says Saijo George, SEO Strategy Director at Supple Digital

Saijo George eCommerce CMS Supple

Ask yourself whether the resource costs can be fit into the budget. If you can not afford to have additional resources, choose a CMS that will offer the exact features and amenities that you need.

User Experience and User Interface

User Interface or UI refers to all the elements that make up the interface that the users interact with. User experience (UX) on the other hand, refers to the experience that a user gets while interacting with your brand’s website.

Keep in mind that nearly 88% of customers say that they are unlikely to return to a website after suffering from a bad user experience.

Most CMSs provide features that will help you create a stellar user interface that will also level up the user experience that you deliver. Choosing a CMS that lets you do this easily is important. Remember — even in the most intuitive and best ecommerce CMS, editors are likely to find some of the features and elements obtuse. Right from tapping into the user’s search intent, there are many aspects that you need to consider. 

At the same time, do not ignore the more salient features that would add to your user experience. One such aspect is ensuring that you pay attention to product categorisation and faceted navigation.

“The handling of filtering and faceted navigation is also an important consideration. Depending on the size of your inventory can dictate how much of an issue this is. Ideally, you won’t want any of your faceted or filtered pages to be accessible to crawlers. If they are, you’ll certainly want to make a plan in advance of how you’ll control this, whether it’s robots.txt, noindexing, or canonical tags, you’ll want to make sure the CMS gives you control over this.”, adds Mark Williams-Cook, Director of Candour.

Mark Williams-Cook 1 eCommerce CMS Supple

Hosting Options

If you have ever gone through the process of creating and making a website live, you already know about the considerations that go into selecting the right hosting option for it.

For the ones who are new to this, there are several options that you can consider, such as:

  • Managed Hosting: This option is used by companies that want to hand over the day-to-day management and maintenance of hardware and software to the hosting provider. 
  • Self-Hosting: If you have opted to self-host your website, the CMS will be installed on a web server you will own and will need to manage as well as control. 
  • Cloud Hosting: In this hosting option, multiple computers use resources while being connected to a network. In this model, the website owners pay only for what they need and can scale up according to their needs.
  • SaaS Hosting: There are many hosting providers that allow customers to host websites on their servers for a monthly or annual subscription fee.

Companies should ideally go for a hosting option that best fits their needs, stage of business, and budget. Also, remember to assign importance to any customisations and additional features that you may require on your website for elevating your brand experience.

Himani Kankaria, Founder of Missive Digital, says, “So if you’re a startup or mid-sized company, start with hosted eCommerce CMS and slowly and gradually move to a self-hosted one after you see enough budget to invest. If you’re already a well-established retail brand looking to go online, self-hosted ones are your best bet.”

Himani Kankaria eCommerce CMS Supple

Though juggling between the various hosting options can get confusing, it is important to choose one that serves your business requirements.

Mobile Compatibility

As you may already know by now, keeping the user experience at the core while creating an eCommerce website is crucial. As of 2021, mobile devices are responsible for over 54% of global website traffic.

This statistic is only going to grow, as mobile phone usage worldwide is accelerating like never before. Many companies decisively look for separate content management systems to drive their mobile applications. 

Since this may not be necessary for brands in the initial stages of business, choosing an eCommerce website CMS that would offer a fairly smooth performance when accessed on mobile phones is necessary.

Common Mistakes When Deciding on an eCommerce CMS

Sure, selecting an eCommerce CMS requires considering a lot of strategic aspects. Online retail brands that are just starting out often find themselves making mistakes that might impact their website performance.

#1 Not Considering Your Target Audience

Isn’t it irritating when a website does not have user-friendly features and design when you are shopping online? 

In fact, 76% of shoppers tend to abandon their shopping carts if they need to interact with a bad user interface.

For eCommerce stores, every impression and interaction that customers have with your website matters. Considering this, one parameter that we would reiterate time and again is that your users should be at the core of the process of choosing the right eCommerce CMS. It is important to seek a CMS that is customisable enough to meet the needs of your target audience.

#2 Ignoring Complex Navigation and Poor UX

Let’s face it — no customer today has the time to navigate a complex website when all they want to do is quickly shop for things. 

Over the years, there are certain features that customers have come to expect from every eCommerce website out there. Something as simple as having a search bar that the customer can use to easily find the products they need can go a long way in leaving a good impression.

Instead, if your customers have to dig into multiple categories and sub-category pages to find what they need, most of them are likely to leave without making a transaction. Create a perfect balance between intuitive features and customer expectations to up the ante on user experience.

The approach that you take toward product categorisation is a great example of how navigation and UX can get complicated if you do not pay enough attention.

“Using a primary category in a URL can cause users confusion if there is a contradictory breadcrumb on the page and canonical tags are only used as a ‘hint’ to Google, and thus may be ignored. Some ecommerce systems will still create duplicate URLs for individual products in multiple categories, giving you duplicate content issues before you even start!”, adds Mark Williams-Cook.

Mark Williams-Cook 2 eCommerce CMS Supple

While choosing the best eCommerce CMS for your online store, focus on offering a frictionless UX, which helps customers to get a stellar online shopping experience in minimal clicks.

#3 Not Checking for Necessary Functionality

What is the point of investing in a good CMS, if it can not address the most basic functionality necessary for creating a good online shopping experience.

Ask questions like: 

  • Does it have an intuitive dashboard that is easy to use for your team members?
  • Does the CMS offer responsive themes?
  • Does the CMS allow highly powerful content editing and publishing tools?
  • Does it allow multi-language content creation?

Well, of course, there are many more functionalities that you can consider based on your specific requirements and needs. According to Sam Underwood, a popular SEO consultant, these features drive the performance and should be sought while choosing a CMS for an eCommerce store:

  • Manage SEO-related tags globally, by page type, and for individual pages
  • Provide basic inventory management
  • Allow hierarchical product categorisation
  • Provide multiple types of product configurations (single, variable, grouped)
  • Have an integrated blog with category and author archives
  • Use a component-based system for frontend content that reduces the need for development
  • Support plugins/extensions to quickly add additional functionality
  • Be easy to use with a great UX
  • Have a simple API

Sam Underwood further adds, “Features like SEO tag management, a blog, easily editable frontend, and hierarchical categories make SEO activity easier.”

Sam Underwood eCommerce CMS Supple

Not checking whether your chosen CMS will be able to offer these features could restrict the kind of user experience that you aim to deliver to your customers.

#4 Not Accounting for Scalability

Every online store — however small — dreams of reaching and exceeding the heights that Amazon has now achieved. 

But needless to say, the journey to the top is full of surprises and requires you to consider several factors right from the get-go. Today, most brands do not get the first mover’s advantage but aim to build a store that can be scaled up substantially.

With that in mind, you need an eCommerce CMS platform that offers the functionality and features that you will need while doing so. More importantly, your chosen CMS should be as scalable as your website’s progress. 

Even if you are a small brand that does not want to be too optimistic about your future scaling opportunities, it makes sense to future-proof your brand for long-term sustainability.

#5 Ignoring SEO Tools

Regardless of how great your website is, SEO is the one approach that can propel your brand to new heights and boost your online visibility. 

But it can be quite difficult to constantly keep up with algorithm changes introduced by Google and tweak your website accordingly. Considering this, it is highly recommended that you choose a CMS that offers tools that you can use to optimise your website for SEO.

“From an SEO perspective, you need your CMS to be flexible enough to help you scale your efforts. For example, it’s important that you could use variables (such as color, price, location, etc.) in your title tags.”, quips Kristina Azarenko from MarketingSyrup, eCommerce and Technical SEO Consultant.

Kristina Azarenko eCommerce CMS Supple

Now, most eCommerce website CMSs in the market require you to install additional plugins and extensions for any advanced SEO activities. They also have features using which you can use to track the important SEO metrics that drive your website performance. However, CMSs such as Magento and Joomla, offer plenty of in-house SEO options for eCommerce to start with.

Final Remarks

The underlying content management system is the lifeblood of any eCommerce website. Essentially, the CMS and technical elements are the foundation on which your website performance is built. With that in mind, it is important to be diligent and goal-oriented while selecting the right CMS for your business. Factors such as the utility, resource requirements, and design elements should be on your checklist from the get-go. Additionally, it is important to avoid the common mistakes that brands often make in this process to prevent possible losses.
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