There’s a common misconception that content management systems (CMS) are exclusively about content. As customer-facing eCommerce portals like websites and mobile stores have changed and grown more complex, the systems used to manage and serve them have also become increasingly multi-faceted.
In the modern online space, CMS for eCommerce needs to deal with a range of complex functions while still maintaining a high level of ease-of-use from the perspective of those responsible for managing and updating content.
Data source: W3Techs
The distinction between ‘content management system’ and ‘eCommerce platform’ isn’t always clear. Some well-known packages, like Magento, include both, while certain CMSs not intended for eCommerce like WordPress can be adapted with plugins like WooCommerce.
Whatever angle you’re coming from, whether you’re looking to integrate eCommerce software with a separate CMS or intend to go with a full package, here are five key questions to keep in mind.
Are there sufficient one-to-one marketing capabilities?
One-to-one marketing refers to CMS functionalities that enable an eCommerce portal to tailor its content to specific users. This personalization is based on data gathered by tracking on-site behavior, like browsing habits, and from third-party providers such as ad companies.
Because this practice is now so pervasive in the practice of eCommerce website development services providers, it’s not a matter of whether or not these features are included, but rather how extensive they are. Evaluate personalization capabilities based on the added benefits they can give you over competing products. Remember that there are still significant challenges to effective personalization and your CMS can help you overcome many of these.
Data source: Experian
Closely linked to one-to-one marketing is the facility to offer interactive elements, like feedback forms and quizzes, and automatically tie these into customers’ experiences. There should also be some kind of functionality for user-generated content like comments and reviews.
In particular, look for the ability to auto-generate content in unique on-page locations based on user preferences, streamline and refine displays, and send updates and emails in response to certain behaviors.
One area where CMS tends to perform particularly poorly is in regards to native testing capabilities. Most eCommerce stores will want to perform some kind of testing, with the majority seeking the benefits that advanced split-testing can provide. If you are happy to opt for a CMS that doesn’t come with these built-in functions, make sure that it integrates with third-party tools.
Are features fully customizable?
The level of customization that is on offer through a particular CMS should play an important part in your decision-making process. Customization should go beyond the usual capabilities like manual input of SEO data.
Customisation should also encompass a range of backend features that would otherwise have been under the exclusive control of a developer. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability set group permissions, create custom forms, and directly edit code where possible without negatively affecting the whole system.
It’s also important to evaluate how well a CMS can integrate with third-party applications, like project-management software and, for larger companies, enterprise management systems (EMS).
The number of third-party eCommerce tools on the market has risen drastically and it’s important that your chosen CMS integrates with those that you want to use. Making use of these new technologies can provide a major competitive advantage.
Data source: Smart Insights
Can digital assets easily be tracked?
Tracking digital assets is a major problem for online enterprises. It’s very easy to lose digital media files due to poor software infrastructure and this usually leads to significant amounts of wasted time and resources.
It’s vital that any CMS software that you go with has a robust structure for uploading, organizing and retrieving most types of media files, preferably with some degree of customization in regards to the data entry options (i.e. the ability to create your own forms and notes).
You should also make sure that you can track digital assets for testing purposes. Being able to label and monitor individual pieces of content, particularly in analytics software and for automatically-generated reports, will allow you to get a much better hold on which elements are working well for your eCommerce site.
Does the system integrate with your backend?
Broadly speaking, content management systems are made up of two parts: a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA). The CMA is the interface through which content is managed. If you visualise a basic WordPress interface then you’ll have a fairly good idea of what they tend to look like. Your CDA is the backend system that is responsible for delivering your content to your eCommerce portals.
Data source: Capterra
With eCommerce in particular, certain pieces of content like stock levels and new product variations are subject to quick changes. It’s important that you make sure that your content delivery application (CDA) is able to automatically deal with these changes, particularly if they’re automatically updated based on information from other parts of the supply chain.
Because the two are so closely linked, hosting software can easily conflict with CMS. If your eCommerce portal uses cached web pages (that are based on older saved versions of pages), for example, it can hinder new content updates. One easy way of overcoming this problem is to make sure that your host has past experience with your preferred CMS. There are a number of CMS-specific providers that cater to eCommerce clients.
Am I able to scale and run multiple portals from one interface?
Many medium and large-scale eCommerce enterprises need the ability to run multiple portals from one interface. This requirement isn’t just limited to managing different websites, however.
The widespread use of smartphones and tablets, along with the growing adoption of devices that make up “The Internet of Things”, has led eCommerce retailers to come face-to-face with the issue of managing a range of uniquely-designed stores. This point is even more important when you consider the fact that taking an omni-channel approach to eCommerce helps boost sales and retain customers.
Data source: CYBRA
Even when talking exclusively about websites, it’s common for eCommerce companies to own several different properties that each fulfill different purposes. Along with the main store, there are often customer-facing blogs, staff portals, online apps and even multilingual support to think about. It’s important that all of these functionalities, and even future contingencies, are accounted for in your chosen CMS.
A good CMS isn’t one that just manages your content. In the modern eCommerce space, a range of other capabilities are called for, from third-party integrations to the ability to perform split-tests.
By closely evaluating the features of the main CMS providers in the context of your own eCommerce business you will be able to find a solution that meets your needs perfectly. Whether you’re looking for a small-scale package or enterprise-level solution, the right option will be key in giving you a competitive edge.