Content Management System (CMS).
This is the engine of an e-commerce website. It’s the back-end administration that has been organized and structured for you the retailer to add products, process orders, etc. and to display content and products in an organized fashion on the website, for the user to then interactively purchase products, etc.
It is critical to look at the back-end CMS of your proposed website before you hand over any money. Take it for a test drive demo and see if it’s easy to use, easy to understand, if it has a clean and organized user interface, a good user manual, etc.
Flexibility & Speed.
E-commerce Content Management Systems need to be flexible and fast for product amendments and updates. Basic DIY CMS’s use a desktop based system where product updates have to be completed on your local desktop PC and then uploaded each and every time, even if you make a small text change. Alternatively and highly recommended are CSV based CMS solutions where product changes are actioned by downloading and uploading a simple CSV that contains your product catalogue. This offers speed and flexibility, and in particular importing many products at the same time can then be a snap!
Hot Tip: After making changes get into a habit of checking the live website to ensure everything looks correct and is displayed as you intended without errors.
A good, robust Content Management System (CMS) will have the following features and functions from an exhaustive list:
Server-based with CSV
Manage and structure the product layout, with clear category tiers and hierarchy
Control prices, shipping, and product features
Manage related products such as cross-sells and up-sells
Manage stock and synchronize with back-end systems
Fully automate on-site SEO process in addition to manual editing
Manage orders and payments and customer information
Give the user control over site attributes for SEO and layout performance
Provide individual user accounts
Automate and communicate order information with customers
Create and manage information pages such as ‘About’ and ‘Contact’
Produce various reports and statistics such as ‘Most Viewed’ and ‘Most Purchased’ products
Store and handle customer information data for marketing and analysis
Control and produce discount code vouchers, discount code box visibility, banners, etc.
Blog module for publishing blogs vital for communication and SEO
Product features comparison
Saves time on many daily tasks that you would otherwise have to complete manually on a daily basis offering flexibility. Many of the e-commerce website owners online are struggling to earn a profit by handling the laborious and mundane tasks themselves. Look to automate wherever possible.
Synchronizing processes doubles the effect of automation. This is about linking systems together for the ultimate in efficiency and productivity. Why waste time with manual and duplicated processes?
Try These to Boost Your Efficiency and Productivity:
• Set up template emails for every step of the order process—from order receipt to tracking number—so an email is available to send out at the click of a button as and when you change the ‘Order Status’ inside of your admin. These emails will personalize and add credibility by extracting and populating the customer’s first name automatically from their order data.
• Link your products’ name fields with your SEO Meta Page Titles, automatically add a H1 tag to each product name Field and add a H2 tag to your short description field so these 3 are published on the live website without your intervention. Do the same for information pages.
• Link your website orders with your back-end accounts system.
• Link your stocking system with your live website, giving real-time stock updates.
• Where available integrate a Live Data Feed Stock Database from your suppliers into your website
Order Status Email Templates.
In my back-end e-commerce system, I have 15—20 template emails written and personalized for every e-commerce order status step and covering every eventuality. They simply inform the customer what is happening with their order. When you send them, it updates the status of the order so all back-end users know exactly what the order status is, along with the accompanying notes box.
These emails have immense power in that they reduce customer support enquiries by up to 70% allowing your team to get on with the important tasks. Communication is key!
Example Template Emails to Reduce Time and Automate:
Order Invoice with ‘Thanks For Your Order’ message (emailed automatically after a sale)
Order Shipped or Dispatched
Product Out of Stock
Potential Fraud (asking customer to respond within 7 days)
Customer Loyalty Discount Code (sent automatically after invoice email)
Product Review Request (sent automatically 10–20 days after order)
Trade Account Application, Approval, Decline
Example image (below) of Individual Order in E-commerce Back-End Admin Area with Template Emails Linked to Order Status:
You will see below an individual order. The drop down menu shows the ‘Order Status’ template emails, mentioned above. When you select an order status from the drop down list, you can choose to send the template email—attached to each status—to your customer or not. You can also see the order status history in the colored text, so you know exactly where each order is in the shipping process. There is an admin box for internal comments.
The red buttons you see below are linked to dispatch email templates and include shipping details and tracking numbers. When you dispatch an order you click the appropriate shipping company (red button) and enter the customer’s tracking number, click ‘Send’ and it fires out a template email, confirming the order has been shipped.