E-commerce has been growing steadily over the last ten years. If you have a business selling products and services, an e-commerce site is vital to help you capitalize on massive potential online sales growth.
Fortunately, the market is flooded with online platforms that will help get the job done. But the challenge here is not merely finding one to use ‒ it is finding the right e-commerce platform that will best suit your needs.
Tips on Selecting the Right E-Commerce Website
In this post, we will walk you through a few tips on how to pick the right e-commerce platform for your business:
Know the Different Types of E-Commerce Platforms
To be able to pick the right e-commerce fulfillment platform to suit your needs, you have to first understand the different types of platforms:
Build your own
More often than not, you will need someone who can help you build your own e-commerce site. But if your business has a specialized niche, with specific needs and requirements that a templated online store cannot offer, then you can consider a Build Your Own platform.
With traditional platforms, you can buy an upfront license fee that you can renew every year. Your team of developers and IT professionals will then create and customize a platform and install it on-premises or in the cloud.
Open source platforms
Open source platforms have the same development procedure as traditional platforms. The only difference is that there are no upfront costs when buying the license. But you are still paying for the implementation, initial development, ongoing development, migration, upgrades, and so on.
Cloud e-commerce is the process of outsourcing a remote network of servers hosted on the Internet to use application services and to store and process data.
There are a couple of open-source and traditional platforms that have made their way into the hosting system and are now calling themselves cloud platforms. Examples of these are Volusion, Salesforce Commerce, and Magento Enterprise Cloud.
This kind of e-commerce platform is built in a single codebase. Everyone who uses a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform is experiencing the same technology with a fixed monthly fee that covers maintenance, security, server use, and upgrades.
Choose the Best Client Experience
How you deliver your client the best experience will determine the success of your e-commerce business.
One vital factor that determines client experience is your e-commerce platform's user experience (UX). A platform that is highly intuitive and user-friendly enhances customer engagement and satisfaction, so it will help you achieve your goals better.
That's why you need to know if the UX of your e-commerce platforms reflects your needs.
Apart from user-friendliness, client experience is now heavily dependent on a particular platform's flexibility and adaptability. The platform you choose should be able to readily adapt to ever-changing innovations and trends without causing headaches.
Personalization is another major player in client experience. Your e-commerce platform should be able to incorporate machine learning tools and artificial intelligence to understand different consumer behavior patterns of individual customers, and then utilize this data to deliver personalized service.
Calculate the Cost
All e-commerce platforms come with associated costs. So, whether you are a small business, or already have an established brick and mortar business planning to move online, you need to know exactly what you are paying for. You also have to ensure that you will be able to support the costs.
All platforms will have a monthly fee that varies depending on which e-commerce platform you choose.
Moreover, you need to consider the processing fees that go with the platform. Do not sacrifice the features that you really need just to get a lower price.
Here are some costs that you should expect:
If you are going for an open-source or traditional platform, then you should look after your e-commerce site's maintenance to ensure that your website performs well. Also, maintenance costs vary depending on the size and complexity of your website. Sometimes, you might need to hire technical help. On the other hand, with SaaS platforms, your website's maintenance is taken care of in exchange for a fixed monthly charge.
Open-sourced platforms, for instance, require you to install and download updates whenever they are released. If you did not download these updates, then your website is at risk for hacks and cyberattacks.
New features and improvements
Your customer behavior changes over time. That's why your e-commerce site must stay relevant by adding new features and making improvements whenever needed.
Apart from adding new features and improvements, you might also have to make changes to the user's overall performance with your e-commerce platform. If your current e-commerce site becomes too rigid, then you might have to switch to another platform that allows you to make these changes.
Features to Consider When Choosing an E-Commerce Platform
Every e-commerce platform has its own unique set of functions and features. You need to ensure that your e-commerce platform has the following features:
Your product catalog is the core of your inventory. So, see if the e-commerce platform’s catalog is intuitive and easy to update. Also, be sure the product catalog meets the requirements of your industry.
This is important because users cannot buy anything from your store if they can’t find your store in the first place.
You need to be able to customize your URL with your name and products. That way you will boost your e-commerce search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and your website will be easier to find.
You may start small now, but your e-commerce store will scale over time. It is important to work with an e-commerce platform that allows you to grow as your customer base continues to grow.
Also, you might have to choose more than just the basic e-commerce solution. Find a platform that does not box you in and force you into a plan that is not tailored for your business.
There are several e-commerce metrics and KPIs that you need to keep an eye on, and a built-in analytics system is a perfect way for you to accomplish that.
Most e-commerce platforms have their own set of analytics. But for those without a built-in system, or if you need access in-depth analytics, you need to integrate and sync the data from that e-commerce platform with another analytics platform.
Do you know that 70 percent of smartphone users have bought something from their phones? That's why your online store should have a responsive design. Most of your sales will come from a mobile device.
More and more people want a more personalized experience. Search for an e-commerce platform that comes with a recommendation engine.
This allows you to send suggested items-to-buy to prospects that you can highly personalize, usually based on the products that they are looking for or from their past purchases.
Customer Review System
Having a customer review system on your site, which shows customer ratings and reviews, can significantly impact your conversion rate.
According to a study, 72 percent of customers are likely to trust a brand or a business if they come across a lot of positive reviews.
Multiple Modes of Payment
Having several payment options such as credit card, PayPal, and debit card, is proven to increase your conversions.
Aside from that, if you plan to grow your e-commerce store on an international scale, then you might also need to tap into local payment gateways that gain the trust of your target audience.
Two E-Commerce Platforms to Consider
Shopify for Small Business
There are a lot of excellent options out there when considering an e-commerce platform. Shopify seems to provide a robust one-stop solution for small businesses that are aiming to expand and be something more.
They have a free tool that lets you generate your domain name. And, you can:
- Design your brand logo on their website.
- Look for products to sell via their vendor relationships.
- Take product shots through their library of stock photos.
- Even purchase an existing online store there.
Magento for Retailers
Magento is one of the best e-commerce platforms specifically tailored for retailers.
When you review their website, you’ll see that some of the world's biggest brands utilize their platform to power their online stores. It is impressive, although it can also be a bit intimidating.
You can download the platform's software for free. Magneto has also established relationships with several other partners who will work with you and can help you create an online store that will work seamlessly with your physical location.
Over to You
So, there you have it. Hopefully, these points will help you find the right e-commerce platform for your website.
There are hundreds of e-commerce platforms available to you. Finding a method that will make the selection process easy is extremely valuable. Keep in mind that choosing an e-commerce platform can make or break your business.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.