Ecommerce Customer Management Tools
It's All About The (Customer) Journey
We understand that eCommerce is a complex field, equal parts marketing and IT. The responsibilities are varied and demanding, but at the end of the day your top priority is shepherding your customer through their journey. While that sounds simple enough on paper, in practice it almost never is; at least, not without putting in the work first.
We've put together this guide to help you identify the best eCommerce tools to make sure your customers are getting what they need.
Building (or choosing) a platform
Every journey has a starting point, and in the case of a customer journey, it’s your platform. Everything they do, and everything you want them to do, depends on that foundation. Broadly speaking, you have three main options: SaaS, Open Source, and PaaS.
SaaS stands for “Software as a Service,” and is generally ideal for smaller businesses. Shopify is a famous example. These sorts of offerings are designed to get your business up and running with a minimum of fuss, and can function just fine without a dedicated development or IT team. On the flipside, options for customization may be limited, and a SaaS platform is generally not designed to support enterprise-level demands.
Open Source platforms such as the widely used WooCommerce, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and scalability, but require more resources. For one thing, they don’t generally include hosting. You can do virtually anything you want with an Open Source platform, but therein lies the rub: you have to do it. Design, implementation, and maintenance are all the responsibility of you and your team, as opposed to a SaaS platform’s plug-and-play functionality.
Finally, PaaS stands for “Platform as a Service.” PaaS platforms split the difference between the other two options, combining the flexibility of Open Source with the relative convenience of SaaS. Generally hosting, infrastructure, and security are taken care of for you, while you otherwise have comparatively Open Source levels of control and input. Individual offerings vary on the Open Source/SaaS spectrum, but in general terms you can think of them as having the floor (easy to start, easy to manage) of any SaaS platform along with the ceiling (customization and control) of an Open Source platform. Prominent examples include Magento Commerce® and Oracle Commerce.
There’s a bit more nuance to all of that, but those are the basics.
The right tools for the job
Once you’ve got your starting point, the next thing a great journey needs is a map. You’ll want to make sure your customers can take their journey as quickly and comfortably as possible, whether you’re working in B2B, B2C, or a “House of Brands” collective with a wide variety of both B2B and B2C arms or subdivisions that all need one simple solution.
The first part of that map is the funnel; that’s a bigger, separate discussion, and often has less to do with tools than tactics, and needs/best practices can shift pretty dramatically by industry. The right eCom tools will still help there, but on that front they’re more the garage than the car.
The end of the map, though, is the checkout flow, and that’s where your tools really matter. For some merchants, a standard, default Shopify checkout might cut it. But for businesses and merchants that are dealing with products for which delivery dates, production timing, and shipment methods are crucially important, a standard checkout isn’t going to cut it. An efficient, intelligently constructed custom checkout that caters to both a client’s objectives and comfort can be the difference between a website that’s helping your website and one that’s hurting it.
For a custom checkout, you’re generally going to want a PaaS or Open Source platform. But which one?
Magento has some muscle
While no one platform is always the solution, Magento Commerce, in our experience, is the way to go for most businesses that need more firepower than SaaS solutions can provide. Not only is Magento Commerce loaded up with one of the better custom checkout toolkits on the market—highlighted by the ability to offer an “Instant Purchase” functionality to accelerate repeat business and reduce mid-checkout client loss— it’s also packed with one of the most intuitive and comprehensive arsenals on the market.
Other key arrows in Magento’s quiver include Multi-Origin Shipping options, elastic Search (an underrated UX godsend), the intuitive yet flexible Page Builder, and Segmentation options to better serve (and target) specific user types. Especially appealing for B2B brands is Magento’s optimized B2B suite that can support unique catalogs, varied customer accounts and B2B data insights and implementation.
Is Magento Commerce right for you?
Whether Magento Commerce is the optimal option to guide your customers through their journey will depend on the specific needs of your business (though it usually is). There’s an easy way to find out: ask us. We can answer all your Magento questions, suggest alternatives, and get you set up for success with whichever platform, strategy, and toolkit you end up going with.