Despite the global economic uncertainty, ecommerce sales continue to grow at a confident pace, now accounting for 14.3% of all retail sales worldwide. More interestingly, eMarketer forecasts the ecommerce share of total global retail sales will hit 23% by 2023. This screams opportunity for store’s looking to create or expand their online presence!
Of course, a thriving industry attracts its fair share of risk-takers, so the competition grows fiercer by the day. Yet, if you’re thinking of joining the ranks of ecommerce entrepreneurs, the best way to start is by researching the ecommerce CMS landscape.
Let’s take a deep dive into the world of ecommerce content management systems.
A content management system (CMS) is software that enables ecommerce shop owners to create, edit and publish digital website content without writing any code. It also allows users to modify the look and feel of the online store, such as changing product page layout, adding promotional banners or quickly adding new website sections to better promote products.
An ecommerce platform is an online shopping cart solution that enables you to handle product management and sell products directly through your website. Some ecommerce platforms also serve as a CMS. In other words, it’s a user-friendly infrastructure that handles all the backend store management functions of an online shop.
A hosted SaaS CMS is a cloud-based solution for ecommerce shops that doesn’t require a separate server. You pay a subscription fee, and in exchange, you don’t need to download anything, manage updates or set up data storage — it’s all taken care of by the software vendor. The provider also usually offers customer support. Examples of hosted CMS include BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace and others. These examples serve as both ecommerce platforms and content management systems.
With open source ecommerce platforms, users have full control over the website functionality. Open source software can be free to download and are then often self-hosted. This means store admins are responsible for figuring out the hosting for their ecommerce website as well as maintaining the server and installing software updates when needed. Some open source platforms have a cloud-hosted option, but they are different from SaaS in that maintenance still falls on the store owner. Some of the best-known examples of open source ecommerce solutions include WooCommerce and Magento.
Until now, you may have not even considered the option of not having a separate CMS. But it’s important to mention that not every ecommerce store will need a content management system. The best way to determine whether your online shop needs a separate CMS is to weigh your content strategy plans.
Ecommerce sites that produce new content on a regular basis — either for the blog or as part of the homepage and product page updates — would benefit most from the flexibility of a CMS. However, if your store won’t require regular, real-time content updates, you might be able to build your site without one.
Additionally, if you have an ecommerce platform that serves as a CMS already, you may not need a separate one.
Still unsure? Consider the commonly touted advantages a well-chosen CMS can provide.
Does the thought of editing content on your site make you uneasy? One of the best things about modern content management systems is that they’re incredibly user-friendly and don’t require advanced technical skills. It means you or your team can easily handle all content and product updates on your own, fast-tracking marketing campaigns and promotional activities.
Successful ecommerce entrepreneurs know that keeping up with customer expectations is what drives revenue growth. But the speed and agility required to keep your website content fresh aren’t achievable if you’re going through a middleman.
With an easy-to-use CMS, you can cut down the development time and update the website on your own. And ultimately, not only are you saving time, but you also get to spend that dev budget on other marketing initiatives to propel your business forward. Win-win!
As one of the most effective marketing channels for driving organic traffic, content should be high on your priorities list.
In the age of TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, few ecommerce brands can afford to stay silent on social media. Creating engaging, helpful content will boost your store’s visibility on Google (and other search engines), driving more people to your site and ramping up your sales. Binge-worthy content is also a surefire way to build a memorable brand and nurture customer loyalty. That’s how people buy these days!
A good CMS helps you ensure your content is well organized, shareable and easily accessible. And all that without much fiddling in the backend.
Great work happens in teams. From proofreading to formatting to finding the right visual assets, a lot of effort goes into producing top quality content. Facilitating collaboration within your team is critical for streamlined content creation. And a well-chosen CMS can bring everyone on the same page, allowing writers to work directly in the system and leverage smart features to improve their content. With that comes better-targeted content, smoother review processes and a more optimized experience for the customer.
What features should you consider when choosing a CMS? Taking a deep dive into feature comparison might actually result in a hard case of analysis paralysis. You’re better off looking at the core features that might help you grow your store and then weighing up the pros and cons of your chosen CMSs to find the right fit.
On-page SEO for ecommerce sites is all about learning where to place your keywords. It’s a way to communicate with web crawlers and ensure high rankings in search results. The internet’s version of smooth-talking, basically. However, if you’re not an SEO buff, don’t worry — a good ecommerce CMS will help you implement the best SEO practices and optimize your product pages.
Modern shoppers have high expectations for ecommerce sites. Fail to provide a smooth UX and you’ll see your visitors dropping off before completing a purchase. And even worse, they won’t be coming back.
Do you know what UX features to look out for in an ecommerce CMS? Above all else, these are the key requirements to tick off.
Bearing in mind the number of plates a store owner has to keep spinning, a CMS shouldn’t add extra stress. Depending on the developer resources at your disposal, you may want to look for a platform that’s easy to set up from the get-go and doesn’t require a lengthy, arduous onboarding process. From content updates and plugin integrations to changing page layout and optimizing for search engines, a CMS should empower ecommerce entrepreneurs to move fast, trial new things and improve the site UX, regardless of their technical level.
No CMS is perfect, that’s the hard truth. But if you’re after a specific functionality that doesn’t come with the core CMS platform or just want to keep your options open for the future, check how easily the system integrates with other tools and plugins. Ideally, you’d want seamless integration with your existing tech stack (think email platform or analytics tools) and the flexibility to install and activate plugins when needed. The available range of integrations will also indicate how popular and API-friendly the CMS is, so it’s a good criterion to bear in mind.
Going through the list above, you’ve probably noticed that ecommerce CMSs largely fall into two main categories. You’re basically choosing between pure content management systems and all-in-one ecommerce platforms that support key CMS functionality.
Choosing the right option for you and the best ecommerce CMS solution for your business comes down to various influencing factors, such as the maturity of your business, the number of products you sell, your sales volume and your content strategy. If you predominantly sell on Amazon and don’t make updates to your site much, your choice will be different than someone that is actively investing in driving traffic to their ecommerce store.
First things first, going with an ecommerce-first platform doesn’t mean your site won’t be able to reap the benefits of content marketing.
As content and ecommerce success become inseparable, ecommerce platforms aim to boost their content-first offering with capabilities that empower store owners to create, design and publish their traffic-generating original content.
From on-page SEO management to visual drag-and-drop builders and sleek blog designs, ecommerce-first solutions have a lot to offer. And if store owners opt for content-first CMS, they can seamlessly integrate with ecommerce platforms for the most efficient, all-around setup. An obvious advantage of this approach is the ability to combine the selling and telling features in one backend platform.
For ecommerce sites with a content-first approach, the CMS plays a focal role in driving business growth. Typically, content-first ecommerce brands focus on educating and engaging their customers through content to build interest, trust and loyalty. And the ecommerce functionality is handled by an add-on in the backend.
It’s a viable option for brands that have strong marketing and design teams, capable of producing content-rich digital experiences that place their products in a relevant context and generate demand.
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