Buyer's Guide: Why Ecommerce is a Strategic Imperative
The tools you select will depend on the size of your organization and your level of ecommerce adoption. Licensing a full, end-to-end solution from an ecommerce platform provider means you don't have to invest in internal IT, maintenance and updates are included, and costs are fixed. These solutions often offer white label ecommerce tools that enable a publisher to go to market more quickly than in-house development. However, many full-service ecommerce providers work on a revenue share-basis. Additionally, publishers should be mindful of whether they will have full-access and/or ownership of customer data for such arrangements.
Organizations that have some ecommerce functionality already in place may be more interested in adding on-point solutions. Some tools are even available as simple plug-ins for individual websites.
Most ecommerce technologies will include a combination of functionalities, sometimes overlapping with one another. The first step to selecting your suite of ecommerce tools is to assess your existing capabilities to understand which functions you need and which you don't or already have.
Shopping cart: The foundation of any ecommerce website is the capability to enable online financial transactions quickly and securely. Shopping cart solutions can range in scale but serve the essential function of allowing consumers to collect and sort potential purchases, then complete a financial transaction, often followed by a logistics and shipping component. Most shopping cart solutions include complementary tools such as inventory control, tax, and shipping calculators, and customer management as well as web design. More sophisticated versions integrate marketing tools such as affiliate program management and social networking.
Digital delivery: Whether providing downloadable samples of publications or an electronic version of the entire publication, you'll need a digital content delivery system. Publishing-focused ecommerce solutions will likely include digital delivery capabilities, though digital delivery plugins are also available.