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An ecommerce platform is a virtual software technology that is used to create storefronts. It is a product and service sales related proposition. Customers can make their purchases of preference from this sites. Vendors and merchants line up what retails stores have in their inventories on this platforms. The accessibility and convenience to both sellers and potential buyers has made an exponential rise in the growth of these ecommerce sites in the recent years. There are indications that this trend will increase even more. This is being fuelled by technological advancements wooing businesses to consider online marketing. There is a rapid growth in mobile technology which keeps a very high number of customers always connected.

Ecommerce platforms gives vendors the ability to customize the information they give about their products. They are presented to potential buyers as exactly what they are looking for and what will solve their retail needs. Both the vendor and the customers, are beneficiaries. The latter gets an increase in sales volume while the former saves on time as they get products they are looking for easily.

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Merchants build and host digital storefronts, with an outline of the products the trader offers. They are designed in a way that they propose to the clients who visit these platforms. The specifications of the products and services are also given. The software may be a bit complex in understanding for a layman due to the cycle of technological software involved. A basic definition would, be buying and selling of products over an electronic setting, basically the network.

Providers of these platforms are responsible for background programming on behalf of their clients and their firms. However, merchants should confirm the language that the host uses. It’s important to ensure the target group, in this case potential customers’, language of use and preference is used by the host.

 Ecommerce platforms are of several categories. The groupings are based on the complexity and software technology used to develop them. A fully integrated software merges all back-office applications such as customer relations software of a firm. Build up infrastructure used to manage inventory is also brought on board. This is utterly important as it harmonises the resources of the firm. Productivity is therefore greatly increased translating to higher yields.

A pre-integrated platform is linked to external system with little effort of developing it. The most common host is Java. This is because it uses standard language and domains. It also uses preferred and convenient standard languages for the clients.

Most software platforms do not have to be necessarily built by small owners. This however depends on the provider of choice. When the provider refers to hosting, the firm gets two options to choose from; on premise hosting and cloud hosting.

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On premise hosting, it basically means that the server is physically located at the firm premises where it hosts the website. The server must be within the firm’s building. The advantage of having this setting is that the firm has control over the platform and the contents of the online retail. The firm also has assurance in regards to security of their data. On the other hand, maintaining it may be expensive since the hardware required may not be readily available, especially for small and new firms. Businesses are required to buy an extensive information technology setup managed in-house. It must also have people with special development skills. It consumes a lot of time to customize and integrating with other systems is a major challenge. This is generally considered to be the first form of hosting.

The second one is cloud hosting or on demand hosting. The provider only sets up a platform at a low price. The vendor is left with the task of upgrading and maintaining the systems. It is then scaled at the clouds which is easier and cheaper as compared to physical scaling. Adding features to the website is also easier. Most mobile applications also rely on the cloud. This makes consumers access the vendors’ products and services from any point, where they are shopping. Although most servers have a modernised protection infrastructure, data security has been the major drawback for this setting. For servers that are not considered major, data security can never be guaranteed to the vendor.

The stability of cloud hosting is high. It has dedicated support and the chances of the platform coming down due to hosting reasons are close to none. As the name suggests, software is delivered on demand over the internet. A third party company known as a system integrator builds storefronts with the ecommerce platforms for the client.

Online businesses just like all other businesses must have a coherent and complete back end functions. Managing accounts and inventories requires an additional software. Customer care management must also be prioritised to ensure that customers’ feedbacks are worked upon within the shortest time limits. Besides a storefront component therefore, an online platform gives a complete front end aspect of running a business. This therefore calls for piecing of different software for convenience. Maintenance must be frequent for efficiency.

Software as a service (SaaS) model is a breed of ecommerce software that integrates all the required functionality software into a single ecommerce platform. Business application are united with their source of data by an infrastructure. This gives personalised online engagements between businesses and clients and businesses with other external components. Representatives of a business can view and reach customers from all over with a single search.

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Orders are centralized such that when customers place their orders, it is easy to fulfil them from the sales outlets of the vendor. Records of sales are easy to retrieve when placing offers for specific goods and services. With customer engagement, it becomes easy to produce goods of their taste and preferences.

The purpose of an online platform is to make sales from an online store.  Although they are of different types, there should be a general trend, which will culminate with the desired goals of increased sales. It has an all-round customer view. Customer targeted by the market, can access consistent, personalised content, which is exactly what they are looking for. All platform channels of the have their eyes trailed on the transactions and interactions with the customers, in a single view.

Ecommerce sites promotes collaboration and harnesses the operation units of a firm. This is done through the provision of an elaborate data visibility ground across the entire firm. Businesses use the ecommerce platform for product management, by managing product information for the business and the customers. Firms merchandise by availing their products and services to potential customers.

Conclusion

Modern platforms have metamorphosed into being comprehensive and all round, encompassing all aspects of online retail. This has made vendors capture, target and engage customers thereby making firms seal sale deals with many customers, many of whom they wouldn’t have met elsewhere. Mobile and social media rapid development has greatly contributed to the success of these platforms. Businesses considering ecommerce platforms however, should consider their size and age. Pressure on online marketing is always high, exerted mostly by bigger firms who have been in the market for a long time. Retailers must define their goals, outline their strengths, beware of the challenges and then tread carefully.

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