We don’t need to tell you that having an e-commerce platform is table stakes if you’re in the business of selling anything. Shopping has fully moved online, and with the advent of omnichannel retailing, consumer behavior is changing. People have grown to expect benefits like fast shipping and accurate stock updates offered by the world’s leading retailers. Consumers are accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, and if your company doesn’t offer that possibility, shoppers can — and will — look elsewhere. Having a robust e-commerce platform ready to meet consumer demand is the best way to stay competitive in the global, always-connected, shopping-just-one-click-away market.
Building a custom e-commerce platform may seem like a daunting task. But at Ciklum, our developers have found that it’s increasingly becoming the preferred choice of online retailers who wish to take total control of their customer experience. If you choose the right tools and the right team, a custom e-commerce platform can also be just as cost-effective as using an off-the-shelf solution.
We want to share with you some tips and tricks on how to put together a top-notch custom e-commerce platform. Having built many custom solutions for our clients, our developers have likely asked themselves the same questions you have while trying to determine the best way to create an e-commerce platform that’s functional, user-friendly and cost-efficient.
Here are five pieces of advice from Ciklum’s experts for building an e-commerce platform from scratch:
Be prepared to handle heavy traffic
Consumers know when to hit the web for some of the best shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These events (and the days leading up to them) are some of the web’s most anticipated and highly trafficked times, as users bust out their credit cards and prepare to shop. But failing to prepare for the heavy load of traffic can be devastating — just ask J. Crew, whose website crashed on Cyber Monday in 2017. This wasn’t just disappointing to customers; it also cost the retailer hours worth of lost sales.
Similar story happened with one of our clients – Salecto ApS – who faced unexpected outages and slowdowns during Black Friday period in the past. As a result, when preparing their e-commerce website to handle heavy traffic for next Black Friday, Christmas and other marketing campaigns, Salecto ApS turned to Ciklum TCoE to test their solution under stress to improve its capacity and increase number of concurrent site users. Ciklum’s e-commerce software load testing and further optimizations helped Salecto ApS to achieve zero downtime during the busiest shopping days of the year. Moreover, the system’s performance has increased from 350 to 540 concurrent users.
We had the pleasure of working with Ciklum’s Performance Quality Assurance Team. The team helped us build a load test framework which we used to identify possible performance optimizations on our platform, and to prepare our platform for Black Friday. The optimizations, which we were able to make because of the findings, helped us improve the general performance of our platform, and it helped us ensure Zero-downtime during the busiest day of the year, Black Friday. The work further helped us to ensure a Zero-downtime Christmas sale for all our customersDaniel Skov Jacobsen, CTO at Salecto ApS
Show, don’t tell
When making a purchase, how much of your e-commerce infrastructure do your users need to see? For FlixBus, one of Europe’s largest intercity bus networks, that’s one of the questions Ciklum helped solve. While its e-commerce system is a highly complicated system that connects travelers to the back, customers only experience a small portion of the infrastructure. FlixBus’s interface shows users exactly what they need to book their travels — and nothing more.
Connect e-commerce to operations
With FlixBus, the company isn’t just selling bus tickets to passengers — it’s coordinating an entire network of buses. Through its custom e-commerce platform, FlixBus also streamlines its operations by linking together the systems. It’s a custom solution that’s built to fit the company’s specific needs, as opposed to an off-the-shelf solution that wasn’t made for travel operations. Ciklum built software that helps manage everything that happens while a bus is on the road, including case management and traffic operations, reducing the load on personnel during peak hours. The custom e-commerce solution doesn’t just help customers get a great experience — it helps FlixBus save time and money.
Desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone — four different screen sizes with four vastly different user experiences. Users will experience your storefront from each of these different touchpoints. It’s not hard to imagine someone browsing for a product on their smartphone, getting a closer look on their tablet and ultimately making the purchase from their laptop or desktop in the office. No matter the case, your e-commerce experience needs to be optimized for the ways users are shopping today. For Chantelle, a major lingerie brand in the Western market, Ciklum helped launch three online shops that work with any device.
For shoppers, every second counts. Whether a customer wants an impulse buy or an item with special promotion, your e-commerce platform must be able to let them check out as quickly as possible. Bottlenecks that can slow down this process, like an unintuitive user interface or slow site speeds, can cause lost sales and create unhappy customers. When building custom e-commerce platforms, it’s important to take specific steps to optimize page load times. By ensuring the shopping experience itself wasn’t the bottleneck, Ciklum helps companies to make sure that customers can get what they want and when they want. Compare that with an off-the-shelf solution, which often uses standard solutions and components that aren’t built with a specific use case in mind.
Creating a custom e-commerce platform places the customer in the center. When you ensure digital storefronts load quickly, work across all devices, don’t buckle under heavy traffic, have a streamlined checkout process and coordinate with operations, your customers will enjoy a seamless shopping experience. By building your own e-commerce platform, you won’t just be doing your customers a favor — you’ll be doing yourself a favor.