The platform upon which you run your eCommerce store is the foundation of your business. This will affect the look, feel and day-to-day operations of your website, so it’s a choice best made very carefully. But this is only the beginning when it comes to making your online store exactly what you want it to be—not to mention maximizing revenue and establishing customer loyalty, one great shopping experience after another.
Incorporating third-party features like apps and plug-ins into this underlying platform allows retailers to customize the way they do business. In other words, optimizing your eCommerce website’s third-party features impacts your bottom line.
Intrigued? Read on to learn more.
Examples of Third-Party E-commerce Apps and Plug-Ins
What kind of functionality can third-party eCommerce apps and plug-ins provide, exactly? These platform “add-ons” can help brands handle some very important functions, from improving checkout to implementing loyalty perks, simplifying returns, handling customer reviews, improving paid marketing campaigns, etc.
The exact features you choose to implement within your store will depend on factors like its size, product lineup, order fulfillment strategy, in-house staff capabilities, etc.
Here are a few real-world examples—compatible with the Shopify platform, specifically—recommended by one growth marketer for Forbes:
- Edit Order: This app allows for the alteration of orders after they’re initially submitted, like if a customer makes a mistake and requests an alteration.
- Persistent Cart: This app saves customers’ shopping carts, even if they leave your website. So, when they come back later, they can avoid starting all over.
- Google Shopping: This app lists products on the shopping section of Google’s search engine, syncing automatically to make products visible to potential buyers.
- McAfee SECURE: This widget displays on your website as a trust badge, demonstrating the safety and cybersecurity of your site to customers.
The apps, widgets, and plug-ins merchants choose will vary, but knowing your options and seeing what other successful stores use is a great first step to harnessing their power.
Third-Party Features: Benefits vs. Potential Drawbacks
What is an eCommerce website run on a platform like Shopify? At its most basic, it’s a place to sell goods. But running a company—a brand, even—goes far and beyond simply making transactions. In today’s competitive marketplace, merchants are trying to provide convenience to customers. It’s imperative to earn customer loyalty. Stores need to give online shoppers a reason to buy from them rather than the competition.
Third-party features help stores set themselves apart from the pack, customizing the appearance and functionality of a given shop. They can make merchants’ jobs easier, streamlining important tasks in categories like design, marketing, shipping, checkout, navigation, customer service, etc.
Outsourcing can be a savvy move for eCommerce businesses, helping companies keep up by offloading certain tasks. But there’s always a risk associated with using third-party services and features. As TotalRetail writes, “[They] can inadvertently be a double-edged sword because each one represents a potential point of failure for an eCommerce operation.” That is, if a third-party app experiences glitches or downtime, your customers will feel the negative effects. There’s always a risk third-party features may malfunction, which means your website may experience errors outside your control.
Generally, the positives outweigh the negatives. Be sure to check out ratings before adding a plug-in or app with your online store. Monitor third-party services to make sure they’re working well for you. Monitoring the performance of your chosen plug-ins will help you respond quickly if there’s an issue.
Optimizing your eCommerce website’s third-party features is a matter of choosing the best ones for your needs and ensuring they continue to perform excellently over time.