eCommerce is the future of retail, but what will the eCommerce store of the future look like? Will eCommerce businesses sell their products via third-party channels like eBay or Amazon, or will they invest in an eCommerce website they control? Will eCommerce apps take the place of traditional eCommerce stores on the web platform?
It’s hard to predict what will happen in an era of rapidly evolving technology and consumer behavior, but we think the web-based eCommerce store is here to stay. Retailers will invest in mobile eCommerce apps and they will sell via many channels, but at the center there will be an eCommerce website designed, managed, marketed, and controlled by the retailer.
A web eCommerce store supported by an application like Magento or WooCommerce offers two advantages that other channels do not: it’s on the web and it doesn’t depend on third-party platforms.
Why Does The Web Matter?
The web matters because it’s where people find your store: Google sends a massive amount of traffic to eCommerce stores, and most consumers search on the web. The web is everywhere, whereas persuading shoppers to install native applications is challenging.
Evidence shows that many consumers prefer to shop on the web, and while mobile eCommerce can’t be ignored, nor can the significant proportion of purchases that are made from non-mobile browsers. Retailers without a web presence are at a disadvantage.
Five years ago, native mobile apps offered the best eCommerce experience, but today’s web is different. In 2018, the web platform is competitive with the native app experience, and with the introduction of Progressive Web Apps, the distance between web and native is even narrower.
Why Does Control Matter?
Third-party retail channels like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and others generate a lot of revenue for eCommerce retailers. Social eCommerce and instant messaging eCommerce are an important part of the future of retail. But third-party channels have a drawback: they force retailers to cede control to the platform.
Retailers with a hosted web eCommerce store don’t face that risk. They don’t have to worry about “pivots” and “platform sunsetting” pulling the rug out from under them. They don’t have to align their business model to the business model of the platform owner. Independent web stores can access more data than retailers constrained to third-party platforms — data they don’t have to share.
Another important freedom is the ability to move an eCommerce business to a different platform or hosting provider. It’s straightforward to migrate a Magento or WooCommerce store to a different web hosting provider. It’s only a little more difficult to move from a Magento store to a WooCommerce store or vice versa. It’s almost impossible to move lock, stock, and barrel from a third-party marketplace when you depend on it and its audience for all of your revenue.
One Home, Many Channels
Omni-channel eCommerce doesn’t mean abandoning the control provided by a central web-based eCommerce store. Magento offers excellent integration with multiples channels: the Sellbrite extension is just one example of a tool that can integrate an existing eBay, Amazon, and Etsy retail with a Magento web presence.