The ecommerce industry is booming, and many brick and mortar retailers are making the switch to an online platform. Some of these businesses have had websites for years, and simply need to integrate a shopping cart software into their website.
Others are starting from scratch, and while they may have a solid understanding of retail, creating an ecommerce website is a whole new ball game. Fortunately, these days it requires very little computer knowledge to start your online store.
Ecommerce platforms range from doing it all for you, to providing the basics and letting you customize it on your own. At this time there are over 120 different platforms for ecommerce out there, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.
In order to determine the best ecommerce platform for your business, you’ll want to evaluate the different platforms to find which platform works best for your business.
1. Platform Price
While this may seem like a common-sense suggestion, the truth is that different platforms may offer different features at varying prices. Some platforms offer one low flat rate, without tacking on additional transaction fees. Other platforms have a base rate, charge per transaction, and then require subscriptions for different apps to optimize your website. This can quickly add up, meaning that your overall rate could end up being much higher than with one of the other sites.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the features that each ecommerce platform offers. Some of them may offer additional features included in their base price, features that competitors don’t offer. Prior to making a decision it’s important to identify what features you need, and then identify which platform can offer you those features at the lowest price.
2. Available Themes
The theme defines the design of your online store. Most ecommerce platforms offer a variety of themes to choose from. Some themes are free with the subscription, while others are premium and require an additional fee to use. These premium themes will often set your website apart, and making it a unique shopping experience for your customers. While if the ecommerce platform only offers a few free themes customers could find themselves with a case of déjà vu.
Consider the selection of themes that the platforms offer. Also consider how much effort you want to put into customizing your page. Different platforms offer varying amounts of customization. If you are more familiar with website creation, putting in a little additional work may be worth it to design a website that truly reflects your brand.
3. Payment Options
While many of the larger shopping cart platforms offer a variety of payment options, others may only have a limited selection. For instance, not all platforms offer digital wallet solutions like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay or Google Pay. These might be options that you aren’t willing to sacrifice. Digital wallets are one of fastest and easiest ways to pay for goods online, and requiring your customers to get up to go find their credit card may lose you a sale. Facilitating impulse purchases is one of the benefits of online sales. If you sell internationally, you may also need to have payment options for international purchases as well. Some platforms even take assets like bitcoin.
4. Technical Support
For new ecommerce entrepreneurs, technical support for your selected platform has great value for your business. Certain platforms only offer support during business hours in their time zone, Monday through Friday. Other platforms offer 24/7 support.
It’s also important to consider the type of support that is offered. Some companies will only offer support online, or via chat. Of course, the level of support that you may be able to receive may be closely linked with your service plan. Larger platforms also have FAQ and tutorials for self-service help.
If your customers can’t access your site, or they can’t complete a purchase, then you lose business. Ensuring that you have the support you need, when you need it is a vitally important aspect of selecting your ecommerce platform.
Different platforms will have different features available. Some platforms, offer in addition to the basic ecommerce functionality, built-in marketing tools like newsletters, abandoned cart emails, reward programs, daily deals, etc.
An ecommerce platforms should also have the capabilities to substitute any built-in features with App integrations, like Mailchimp or Shipstation. While the built-in features may be excellent, using apps that your team is familiar with builds in consistency that can be essential to a growing business.
When doing business in ecommerce, you’ll want to make sure that security is top notch. Ecommerce has a responsibility to their consumers to protect their information. This means making sure that your ecommerce platform has PCI compliance, SSL, fraud prevention, and data backups. Make sure that your ecommerce website is protected from hacks and data theft from day one.
Choosing your eCommerce Platform
Deciding on your ecommerce platform is the first essential step when starting an online store. Make sure you do the legwork beforehand, because switching ecommerce platforms can be frustrating, time consuming, and expensive. Going through the process to establish your businesses online profile, importing your inventory, and selecting your theme can take precious time away from other aspects of your business. Ensure that you make the right decision the first time.
When you are using the right ecommerce platform for your business, it facilitates the day-to-day task of processing online sales. Using an ecommerce platform that fully integrates all aspects of your business allows for smoother operations, and gives you the opportunity to grow your business.
Guest Post by Gonzalo Gil
Founder and CEO of 3dcart, a leading online store builder ranked as the best shopping cart software for SEO. As an ecommerce expert, Gonzalo works with businesses of all sizes to help them build their online presence and succeed selling online.
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