Article

Leonie Mercedes
Leonie Mercedes 4 September 2017

How can a CMS improve the ecommerce function of your website?

According to eMarketer, by the end of 2017, shoppers will have spent more than $23 trillion online, and this figure is set to grow at between 5% to 6% a year until at least 2020. That’s a lot of potential customers. What should online retailers be doing to engage with them?

While brick-and-mortar shopping remains popular, overall sales for online retailers are continuing to climb. The estimated billions of connected devices, including smartphones and tablets as well as wearables and smart speakers, have made buying online virtually effortless, and customers enjoy the convenience it offers.

According to eMarketer, by the end of 2017, shoppers will have spent more than $23 trillion online, and this figure is set to grow at between 5% to 6% a year until at least 2020. That’s a lot of potential customers. What should online retailers be doing to engage with them?

To set themselves apart in a crowded field, e-retailers need to offer the customer more than just browse and shopping-cart options. The website should be more than simply an online store. With a content management system (CMS), online retailers can make it an unbeatable promotional tool.

In this post, we’ll look at how the CMS can give online retailers an edge over the countless competing brands by examining the most important differentiators for online retail brands, and how the capabilities of a CMS can help organisations achieve them.

What do my customers expect?

To determine which ecommerce capabilities you need from your CMS, let’s take a look at what the biggest ecommerce players on the web have in common.

Consistent brand identity: We’ve spoken before about the importance of maintaining brand consistency as a way of fostering trust and encouraging loyalty to your business, and how it makes it easier for your customer to identify you and the products or services you provide.

Using a CMS can ensure that however your customers choose to interact with you – whether it is on desktop, mobile, via social or email – the messaging, look and feel are consistent. This is the omnichannel approach, and for businesses serving content to customers across multiple touchpoints, it will be mandatory to adopt it.

Investing in an agile CMS that allows users to edit and publish content across channels instantaneously is an important step towards omnichannel.

Content-rich experiences: In its Total Retail Survey 2017, PwC wrote that, for retailers, the website is a marketing vehicle as well as an online store. Many successful online retailers, including Net-A-Porter.com and Bonobos, offer rich experiences that include content such as editorial features or quizzes alongside their products to inspire and delight their customers.

A scalable, flexible CMS enables instant publication of different types of content on your site, which can be quickly and easily updated in response to trends or customer needs. This is about more than just selling products – publishing the kinds of content that will resonate with your customers and the way you respond to events your audience might be interested in give your brand personality, and consumers a reason to come back to you.

Insight-driven personalisation: Once simply an online bookseller, Amazon has become quite a different animal since its launch in 1994, now offering cloud services, media streaming and its own consumer electronics. Part of the secret of its success, and what continues to set it apart today, is the fact that it is insights-driven – it delivers products and services based on customer insights, and offers a personalised experience to each of its customers.

According to Forrester, insights-driven businesses will make more than $1.2 trillion in 2020, and as customers grow to expect personalised experiences when they shop online, it will serve your business well to beef up your capabilities in this area.

Fundamentally, the CMS is a data management system. With the right integrated tools, it can collect and draw meaningful insights from customer data, giving you a deeper understanding of your audience.

What are my options?

Brands who need ecommerce capabilities on their websites have a few options available to them: they can either manage their ecommerce function through their CMS (if they have one), or use a dedicated ecommerce platform, such as Shopify or BigCommerce, which are hosted offsite.

The method you choose will depend on the needs of your business, but broadly speaking, if you don’t have many items to sell, the hosted option is probably better for you. Hosted ecommerce platforms work right out of the box, usually cost less, and have an intuitive backend, so don’t require any coding know-how.

However, if you plan on scaling in the near future, only a CMS is robust and flexible enough to manage the extra demand. It also gives you more options than a hosted solution, allowing you access to any add-ons and plugins that become available.

Download our CMS Vendor Selection Pack for more information about how to select the best web CMS for your business.

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