Online retailing is a lucrative business these days and boy! It sure is growing fast.
Half of all the internet users shop online regularly- that's literally a lot of reasons to start selling your things online. To tap into that big earning potential, you'll need to have an ecommerce website.
Once you've decided to set up an online store, the next step involves choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business which could be confusing amid multiple platforms with own set of offer.
The ecommerce market offers a large array of options of ecommerce solutions to business owners who want to put up online stores for retailing.
It is absolutely critical that you choose the right ecommerce solution to build a successful online enterprise. But identifying the best ecommerce platform, from out of hundreds of options, could be a bit overwhelming since you'll require to make numbers of different decisions considering number of different factors.
Below are a few basic things you need to keep in mind while choosing the ecommerce platform for your business.
1. Determine what kind of hosting is suitable for your business: Self-hosted (Licensed, Standalone) solution or Hosted Solution.
First thing you need to make up your mind about is what kind of hosting is be suitable for your business needs.
A self-hosted solution is a plugin that lets you set up a store in your existing website. If you feel that you'll need complete control over your online store, you should opt for self-hosted solutions.
They tend to give your more flexibility and control but with great control comes great responsibility and you'll be solely responsible for managing the site from scratch.
On the other hand, a hosted ecommerce plan provides you most everything you need- that likely includes a domain, website and shopping cart on their own space and is maintenance free.
The hosting company take cares of everything ecommerce related once you subscribe to their hosting packages (Think of it like renting a house).
There are hundreds of hosted ecommerce solution providers in the market suitable for various kinds of business. The best hosted solutions provide unlimited data storage, unlimited bandwidth and guarantee 24x7 uptime.
Buy or rent, choose whatever favors your business.
2. Look for a platform that gives you easy customization options.
You will need your site to be unique to stand out from among thousands of other stores out there. So, while choosing a platform, consider what level of flexibility and maneuverability it provides.
The best ecommerce solutions allow organization of websites according to preference, allow customized organization of products, provide customers with ability to compare products, let unlimited photo uploads, and give many more options to be creative that might make significant difference in the probability of your success.
To help you decide the best ecommerce software according to your need, you can always check their reviews. You can start with a great Shopify review here.
3. Make sure that the ecommerce solution is compatible with your existing resources and data.
It is likely that your business already has a website and plenty of existing product databases that you might want to integrate with the ecommerce solution.
Is your choice compatible with your existing resources? Does it allow you to import your existing data? If it does, it might save you lots of hassles of having to change the system completely or entering a bulk of data into the web store's database.
Good ecommerce platforms provide you several methods to import your spreadsheets, reports from various other compatible systems. Look for a platform that integrates well with other back-end systems.
4. Ensure that the product catalog features all your products.
Different ecommerce platform severe better with different types of products. To determine the fit, compare your products to the templates offered.
What kinds of product you're selling? How flexible is the product catalog? What kinds of goods are you selling, digital or physical? Can it handle the variety of your stock? Can the platform adequately manage the breadth of your products? Start by asking these questions to look for a platform that suits your needs.
5. Ensure that it accepts broad range of payment methods.
There are no euphemism with money. You pay your money, you get your value it as simple as that but before you invest, make sure that the platform supports a wide range of payment methods and provides the ability to easily add different payment functionalities.
To maximize your sale, you need to be able to accept as many payment methods as possible- traditional and electronic- and to integrate the payment methods used most by your regular clients.
If you want to extend your business to international customers, you should be able to deal in multiple currencies. The best ecommerce platforms provide the facility to process different types of credit cards and facilitate payments through various online payment processors like PayPal, Google Checkout, and Amazon Payment.
6. Make certain that you'll get detailed reporting on every aspect of your online store.
Understanding your website performance is vital to model your business profitably. Therefore, analytics and reporting tools are an important aspects of ecommerce solution that should not be overlooked
A successful enterprise keeps track of its every transactions and understands its customers. Your ecommerce website needs tools that provide statistics on various factors of your website's performance like website traffic, unique visitors, sales revenues, referring sites.
The best ecommerce solution offers not only order processing capability but also keeps track of your inventory with every sale and provides detailed reporting. It gives you valuable insight into how to fine-tune your business process and maximize your profit.
7. Make sure the platform fulfills your marketing needs.
To ensure growth, marketing is absolutely essential. The ecommerce solution that you'll acquire should be able to assist in your marketing strategies.
Look for the platform that provides tools to promote your website- like blogs, integration with social networks, SEO features etc. The best platforms offer you capability to add features like offering coupons, discounts, gift cards; to send email newsletters to your potential customers.
The right ecommerce platform will meet all or most of your marketing needs to let you grow.
8. Ensure the platform offers ease of administration.
It is important that you be able to administer your store with ease at anytime, anywhere. The best ecommerce platforms provide you with a user-friendly administrative panel to monitor your store and make changes as you see fit from anywhere with an internet connection.
9. Compare the price, services offered and your budget.
When you start a business, your budget is going to be a limiting factor in the process of deciding what services to acquire and what to discard.
All ecommerce platforms provide different services in packages. Packages vary in services according to the price you pay. But since there are hundreds of platforms to choose from, you will find differences in services offered for the same price.
Hunt for the best deal that suits your budget and won't hurt your business either.
10. Do not overlook the prospect of mobile users.
The number of users who access the web via mobile devices has long surpassed the number of desktop users. Statistics show that mobile commerce is growing at the rate of more than 30 percent each year.
That means, you are going to lose a lot of potential customers if the platform you choose does not allow for a good mobile experience. Opt for the platform that supports responsive web designing to offer rich mobile experience to your customers.