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3. July 2024

What makes a shop system good?

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Portrait Daniela Köhler

by Daniela Köhler

Publications officer

Being a leader in the dynamic world of e-commerce is important. That’s why a flexible and efficient shop system is the key to having a confident image and successful online sales platforms.

The basics: What is a shop system?

A shop system (sometimes also referred to as: shop software or web shop software) is the technological backbone of every online store. With it, entrepreneurs can market, sell and manage their products digitally. To ensure smooth processes both internally and for customers, e-commerce shop systems are often connected to ERP, CRM or PIM systems .

The differences between shop systems

Anyone who wants to set up an online store needs a shop system. Choosing the right online shop software depends on several factors such as company size, budget, technical capabilities and unique business needs. The most important differences between shop systems are as follows:

1. Open source vs. closed source

  • Open source shop systems are accessible for free and permit modification of the source code – this makes them more flexible and customisable. This means that it is possible to change the design or just add a new feature. The downside is that they also require a higher level of expertise and can harbour security risks, which makes open source shop systems less beginner friendly. Updating and patching regularly is an absolute must.
  • Closed source systems are developed by specialised e-commerce providers, require a licence and offer a more secure and robust solution in comparison to open source systems. Although the costs are higher, this tends to be worth it as there is, for example, professional support from the provider and regular security updates. Closed source shop systems are far more appealing to beginners.

2. On-premises vs. SaaS

  • On-premises shop systems are developed by the companies themselves and then installed directly on their own servers, which allows them to have complete control and data security. However, these systems require a huge amount of know-how, an extensive IT infrastructure and continuous maintenance to implement the software and the shop. Especially for smaller companies, such extensive shop management can pose a major challenge.
  • SaaS solutions are web-based, require fewer technical resources on site and are easily scalable. That said, being dependent on the provider and not having complete control over the hosting infrastructure can be a drawback.

The different operating modes of shop systems can be hosted either on your own servers (self-hosted) or on external servers (cloud-hosted). Self-hosted solutions provide a lot of control and benefits, but also come with a lot of challenges when it comes to security and maintenance. Cloud-hosted solutions for web shop systems are known for their lower initial investment, reliability and flexibility in terms of scalability.

3. Plug-in vs. proprietary development

  • Web shop plug-ins are a practical solution for content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress. Often these plugins are easy to install and offer a variety of features that can also be found in SaaS solutions. While many of these plug-ins are free, the cost can quickly increase as extensions are added. They are suitable for companies of all sizes due to their high level of expandability.
  • The proprietary development of a shop system is the ideal solution for addressing a company’s specific requirements and needs. It offers maximum flexibility and scalability and enables the implementation of a company’s own specific ideas. Compared to standard solutions, a customised shop system may take some time to be fully developed, bug-free and fully functional. Working with a partner company can be helpful if you want to implement a customised solution according to your own ideas.

Tip: Our professional services can help you with the successful and reliable implementation of software projects.

4. Monolithic vs. open architecture

  • Traditional monolithic architecture combines frontend and backend in one coherent system. Designed as a complete unit, this shop system is self-contained and is based on a single code base, which means that any change can affect the entire system.
  • Headless shop systems, on the other hand, have an open architecture and separate the frontend from the backend, which allows for a high degree of flexibility and personalization of customer interaction. Consequently, this supports e-commerce omnichannel strategies by enabling seamless integration with various touchpoints such as mobile apps, social media or IoT devices. Additional benefits of an open architecture are the ability to include composable commerce, interfaces (APIs) and microservices.
  • Composable commerce

    Composable commerce extends the concept of headless architecture, as all backend elements can be decoupled into separate modules. Being modular in this way allows companies to flexibly and quickly adapt their online shop software to changing market conditions and business requirements.

  • Interfaces (APIs)

    Interfaces (APIs) enable communication and integration between different components and systems. Seamless integration of payment processing, product catalogues, CRM systems, etc. can thereby be guaranteed.

  • Microservices

    Microservices are independent services that perform specific tasks within a system and can easily be integrated into existing systems.

Companies therefore often adopt a best-of-breed strategy, selecting the best tools and services for different aspects of their e-commerce operations and combining them freely to maximise the efficiency and performance of the shop system.

Tip: You can find even more information about headless commerce in our novomind blog post.

5. B2B vs. B2C

  • B2B shop systems are specifically designed for trading between businesses and must therefore be able to process large order volumes efficiently and in many cases also support multi-stage approval processes. They usually offer extended functionalities such as complex pricing, individual discount structures, customised ordering processes and extensive catalogue management functions. Furthermore, they support specific payment and delivery terms as well as integration into ERP systems, which ensures efficient business processes and automation.
  • B2C shop systems focus more on simple navigation structures, fast checkout processes and a variety of payment methods. A high level of performance and fast loading times are essential to ensure a smooth customer experience. Moreover, shop systems for the B2C sector often provide more marketing tools and functions such as customer reviews, product comparisons and personalised recommendations. This is intended to improve conversion rates and customer loyalty.

Another possibility is a D2C model in which manufacturers sell their products directly to end customers without any middlemen. Selecting the right shop system depends largely on the respective business model and should take into account the specific requirements and expectations of the target group.

What capabilities should a shop system possess?

An efficient shop system should be characterised by user-friendliness, adaptability and scalability. Not every system offers all customisation capabilities, but a good e-commerce software for online shops should have the following:

  • Infrastructure and support

Having a solid infrastructure and reliable support are fundamental requirements for a successful online shop. This includes domain hosting, SSL encryption, GDPR compliance and ensuring the availability of the store. Several support options help to solve technical problems quickly and keep everything running smoothly.

  • User-friendly end customer frontend

After setting a solid foundation, an intuitive and user-friendly frontend is crucial for the success of an online shop. It needs to be optimised for different devices and, for instance, offer a powerful and configurable search function that includes search suggestions, because having an effective category browsing tool with filter options and sorting rules helps customers to browse the selection quickly and efficiently. Store content and landing pages must be designed in such a way that they include teasers and more detailed information. Promotions, such as “Buy 3, pay for 2”, can be displayed directly in the shop to encourage customers to make additional purchases. A detailed product presentation with images, videos, 360-degree views and comprehensive descriptions (including stock and availability displays) is also essential.

  • Easy login and customer registration

A simple login process and the option to place guest orders are key elements of a shop system and make it easier for customers to get started with the purchasing process. Doing this reduces barriers for new customers and improves the conversion rate.

  • Easy checkout

The checkout process needs to be simple and trouble-free. This includes support for various payment options such as credit card payment, direct debit, PayPal, and more. Customisable shipping solutions that can integrate with shipping service providers and region-specific shipping cost calculation ensure an optimal shopping experience.

  • Customer account

A good customer account provides insight into customer data, delivery information and order history. Having a cross-device shopping cart and wishlist ensures that customers can continue shopping whenever they would like to. Support options should also be available, whether through direct contact with customer service or an AI chatbot. This will help to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Integration options

Any effective shop system should support the integration of accounting and marketing tools. This includes automated invoicing, sales tax management, SEO, email marketing, content marketing and cross-selling.

  • Analysis options

Monitoring key performance indicators such as sales and orders is essential for data-driven decisions and making adjustments as needed. Good e-commerce software therefore ought to provide comprehensive analysis options.

Further requirements and capabilities

  • A user-friendly interface for configuration, ideally with a drag & drop editor, makes managing the store much easier.
  • A powerful order management system (OMS) provides a clearly structured backend with access to customer accounts as well as billing and shipping addresses.
  • Linking to PIM systems enables simple integration of product data.
  • Last but not least, support for multiple languages and the ability to handle several currencies helps to scale the online shop to a global level.

Conclusion

To summarise, the following can be said: When choosing a shop system, it is important to select a system that takes into account the budget, size and technical capabilities of your own business. You should also make sure that the shop system is customisable and scalable, works smoothly and conveys a good impression of the products to the outside world.

Our all-in-one shop system: novomind iSHOP

Discover the potential of our real-time shop system, which can be tailored to your specific e-commerce needs. It is infinitely scalable, comes packed with all the key features and supports different countries, languages, currencies, stores and channels. Improve your online shop by providing your customers with a seamless and dynamic customer experience. Our modular shop system, novomind iSHOP, supports both headless and composable architectures to give you maximum flexibility and efficiency.

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