If you are thinking of starting an online store, one of the major choices that you will need to make is which e-commerce platform to use. When making this choice, you will need to take a lot of factors into consideration, such as ease of use, pricing, and integrations. Read on to find out which are the most important considerations to make when choosing an e-commerce platform for your online store.
What are you Selling
The products and services that you choose to sell in your online store can often determine which e-commerce platforms you can and cannot use. As some e-commerce platforms are designed to sell both physical and digital products, whilst others are only set up to sell one or the other, it’s important to consider the kinds of products that you’ll be selling and ensure that you choose an e-commerce platform that will be able to comply with your needs. It’s also important to consider that whilst some e-commerce platforms will allow you to sell unlimited products, others may not – so it’s essential that you weigh up your product options before you make a decision.
Handy Questions to Ask
When defining your product options in order to select an e-commerce platform, there are a number of questions that should be asked. These include:
- Are you selling physical or digital products?
- How many products are you selling?
- Do you have many, or any options per product – e.g. sizing, colors
- How will shipping be handled?
- Do you need to track inventory?
- Do you sell products both online and offline?
It’s also important to consider that a number of e-commerce platforms will not allow the selling of certain products, for example adult products, tobacco or alcohol, so check that the platforms you’re considering allow this if you’re selling such products.
Where it’s Hosted
Another factor that you will need to take into consideration when choosing an e-commerce platform is whether you want your online store to be hosted on your own website, or on that of the e-commerce platform. Although hosting your store on your own website will allow you the most control over your store, it also means that you will be held wholly responsible for keeping software up to date and ensuring that customer data is protected, meaning that hosting your online store on your own website also requires the most amount of maintenance. For this reason, most small business owners wishing to start an online store will allow their store to be hosted by a reliable e-commerce platform. Although most e-commerce platforms will still allow you to keep your own domain name when hosting your online store, it’s important that you check that this is the case when choosing an e-commerce platform.
Design and Layout
How your online store looks to your customers is an important aspect of increasing sales and making sure that you keep a regular customer base. Whilst many e-commerce platforms provide a number of free templates and designs for setting up your online store, you should take into consideration that you may need to pay more if you wish to have a custom design, or an online store layout that is in line with the image of your brand. You should choose an e-commerce platform that will allow you to customize and change your online store as much and as often as needed, and for the best price. Visit an e-commerce platform such as Network Solutions for a dedicated team of designers who will be able to create and maintain a website design for your online store that fits perfectly with your needs.
If you’d like your customers to use a specific payment gateway such as PayPal along with the option to pay with a regular debit or credit card, it’s important to make sure that the e-commerce gateway that you choose also authorizes the use of the specific payment gateway that you choose.
If you are already using specific tools for your marketing, communication, customer services and social media needs, it’s a good idea to choose an e-commerce platform that’s willing to integrate with your favorite tools. Although many e-commerce platforms come with all their own tools for specific services, if you’re thinking of sticking with the ones you’ve got it’s important to find an e-commerce system that allows for this, or at least provides an alternative option.
Which e-commerce platform do you use, or are considering using for your business’ online store? Please share your story in the comments.