Knowing which eCommerce solutions are using the best, most innovative, and improved technologies to cut costs and improve performance can make all the difference in your business.
Most of the leading hosted eCommerce site builders offer all the amenities you would expect with a cutting edge site - like responsive design, multiple payment gateway support, attractive themes & templates, great support, and so on.
So which is the right one to choose?
To help you make the right decision, we've listed all the latest upgrades and improvements announced by two of the major hosted shopping carts - Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Shopify, arguably the most popular of all the hosted eCommerce site builders, has a strong track record of embracing changes and new technologies.
Here's a list of some of the most important advances announced over the course of 2014:
- Responsive checkout: Given that more than half of all eCommerce transactions are driven by mobile devices, this is a great feature to have for your store.
What this means is that your customers have an attractive and easy to use interface during checkout that will ultimately lead to lower cart abandonment rates across all devices.
- Domain name generator + new extensions: If, like me, you have a number of websites running then you probably know how hard it is to find a good domain name that hasn't been parked by the domain squatting parasites.
Having a decent service like this can save you days if not weeks of frustration (and possibly even some tears).
- Automatic 'rich' Pinterest pins: eCommerce and social media are virtually inseparable these days, and having great visual content for your store means that you have something to share on Pinterest to drive more traffic and engagement.
Having easy access to rich pins means that you can include important info inside the pin, helping to inform potential buyers and entice them to take action.
- Accept bitcoin payments: That's right, you can take payment in bitcoins instead of traditional currency.
While this may not be something you are interested in, bear in mind that if you had accepted bitcoins a few years ago, they would be worth a heck of a lot more now.
- POS updates: Benefit from a range of cool features around the Point of Sale, such as printable gift cards, custom barcode printing and scanning, receipts in multiple languages, and much more.
What's great about Bigcommerce is that they have opened their platform up to 3rd party developers and really focused on building a huge and thriving community of developers around their core offering.
This means that a lot of the development that drives their features and functionality forward come from their community of developers, meaning that they can respond quickly to market demands and new technology trends.
Here are some of the features you can benefit from as of 2014:
- Automatic sales tax: This one is an absolute winner because of the sheer complexity of state and federal taxes in the U.S.
Being able to automatically calculate tax for any state is something that should bring a smile to most people who are sick of having to keep track of complex tax requirements.
The system is based on Avalara AvaTax, which continuously updates rates for more than 10,000 US taxing jurisdictions to ensure that the calculations are accurate and up-to-date.
However, they do note that this is really a first-step, and not yet a complete solution.
- 24/7 support: Ok, so this is something I would kind of expect from a leading provider, so normally it wouldn't make the list.
However, it's worth re-iterating how important it is to have a knowledgeable human on hand to help out if something ever goes wrong.
- Improved SEO: While relying solely on organic search traffic from Google is not really a great idea, it is still important to do everything in your power to attract as much of it as you can.
Having an online store that is optimized for search can mean the difference between taking off and... not.
- Built-in blogging: Blogging, and content publishing in general, goes hand in hand with SEO and marketing. Good content forms the backbone of your online visibility, trust, authority and engagement. It's important.
Bigcommerce is taking this seriously by providing a more advanced set of blogging features that will help you to attract more readers and convert them into paying customers.
It's worth noting that Bigcommerce actually won (beating 22 other shopping cart systems) in the 2014 ecommercebytes Seller's Choice Awards.
It's also important to note that just because one platform announced a new feature this year doesn't mean the other doesn't have it. For example, rich Pinterest pins are available on Bigcommerce as well as Shopify.
I should also point out that while Bigcommerce does a great job of integrating with a wide range of 3rd party apps and platforms, if you're interested in working with Amazon then you really need to look at Volusion - who are the market leaders when it comes to integrating stores with Amazon.
You can check out how to increase online sales with Volusion & Amazon for more on that.
What other advances have been made this year that are potential game changes in the eCommerce space? Are there any new features you couldn't live without?
Share your tips in the comments.