There was a time when the only way you could have an e-commerce platform on your website was with the assistance of a very creative coder. Oh, and an excessive amount of money. With the rapidly changing landscape we know as the internet, selling things online has become commonplace. The same can be said about online e-commerce programs. There are so many to choose from these days but what do you need to effectively sell your products? Well, that truly depends on several variables related entirely to the nature of your online business. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you decide which e-commerce platform is the best for you.
1 – Stock Size Limits
This may sound like an easy one to decide upon but it really is somewhat more involved. Sure, you can pick a service that provides you with enough store space for your current inventory. Naturally, you will want to consider expansion possibilities so you will want to have enough space in the e-commerce platform to fit in any new items you plan to add to your inventory. But what about five years from now? Do you stand the chance of outgrowing the platform? We’re talking about seeking a program that either has unlimited space or can easily be expanded with add-on space. You also want to ensure you are getting the maximum space you can without paying a maximum rate.
2 – Digital Goods vs. Physical Goods
The kind of products you intend to sell will have impact on the types of e-commerce platforms that are available. If your goal is to sell just physical goods, there are platforms that will have considerations for shipping and handling fees. There are other platforms that are better for the sale of digital goods. There are also e-commerce programs that can be used for either. The best program for your needs is out there. You just have to find the right match.
3 – Payment Methods
E-commerce platforms have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Many offer flexible payment options. If you would rather not use PayPal as your payment processor, you can also shift to a third party payment processor. E-commerce platforms have access through plug-ins or built-in features that can accommodate any payment configuration you are planning on using. That even includes cryptocurrency as payments.
4 – Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
Another important decision you will have to make with regard to your chosen e-commerce platform is whether or not you intend to host it or have it hosted somewhere else. The benefits of self-hosting include cheaper costs and if you have some basic programming knowledge you can modify the e-commerce pages on a regular basis. This would be of more use to someone with an online store that you will want to update the look of for any occasion or whatever else comes along and you want to alter the theme in some way. The benefits of hosted e-commerce platforms include having the responsibility of updates and such taken care of quickly. Plus, if you have little or no interest in modifying the look of your online store, hosted is the better choice.
5 – The Payment Plan
Probably the most important consideration you will have to weigh out is the payment plan being used for the e-commerce platform. We’re talking about how much they are charging you and how they charge you to use the platform you have chosen. You will want to naturally keep the cost within your budget and you may find discounts for certain payment schedules. There may be opportunities to pay monthly, quarterly or annually. There may also be an option to pay with a small commission on sales instead of or along with a nominal fee. Plus, pay attention to the fine print. If you can score a wicked deal in an ‘introductory offer’ be sure to find out how long the introductory period is. Also, find out what price increase takes place following that introductory period.
6 – The Shopping Cart Experience
There is one more thing. The shopping cart process has to fit with your product and the demographic of your customer base. Difficult to understand and clunky cart to payment processes are not going to benefit your online store at all. You will want to make sure the system is smooth and seamless. You will also want to know that if a cart does not get to check out, is there tracking systems in place so you can make contact with customers to encourage completion of the shopping cart process. There are also review sites you should visit to see what others are saying about the ecommerce platforms that are being used. This information may steer you away from a potential problem before it happens.
Are You Ready To Incorporate E-Commerce?
Moving up to an online store set up is a huge step. It’s a lot like opening a downtown storefront location used to be like. It signals a step into the business world in a very significant way. There are a number of great online e-commerce platforms available to you. They include, but are not limited to Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and Magento. The key to finding the best one for your products is to do some homework and find out how each of them works and if they would work for your specific product line. Your goal is to find the right match at the right price.
Need Some Help?
We have experience with all of these e-commerce platforms having used them from scratch or facing the challenge to integrating them with existing online stores. Either way, we can be of service to you when you start to look at adding an e-commerce platform to your business plan. Contact us today to find out how we can help you during the process.