People love convenience. They don’t want to drive to a store to get what they need and instead prefer to shop online using their computer or phone. People shop for items while waiting for the dentist, on their lunch break and during business meetings…yes, you do. With that, anyone interested in creating an online business needs an e-commerce platform to compete.
You can’t expect people to call in their order. They want an online shopping cart where everything happens automatically and with ease.
With so many e-commerce choices available, how can a new business choose the one that’s best for their business and their customers?
What’s An E-Commerce Platform?
In many ways, managing an online store is the same as running a brick-and-mortar business. You sell products, ship them to customers and deal with all the backend such as inventory management and billing.
An e-commerce platform does this for your online business. It makes it easier to run your business and sell products. The best platforms include not only backend services and a shopping cart but also blogging and marketing help.
It doesn’t matter if you have a brick-and-mortar in conjunction with an online store or strictly online, you need an e-commerce platform.
What Type Do You Need?
There are two main types of e-commerce platforms: small and medium businesses and enterprises. There are many choices for small business e-commerce platforms from Yahoo Small Business to Shopify. They each have their own pros and cons, but their goal is the same.
They provide e-commerce solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses. These are ready to go out of the box, so to speak. They’re pre-packaged and once you’ve signed up and activated the e-commerce aspects, you’re ready to go.
Some are standalone products such as Yahoo Small Business that are the website and backend operations. There are others that let you have a content management system such as WordPress that integrates into an existing site.
Larger companies that have thousands of products and millions of dollars in sales need a larger enterprise-level platform such as Salesforce. Many of the smaller platforms use templates that are easy to set up and you can customize for an additional cost.
Enterprise-level systems start our customized. The companies meet with the business to discuss what options they need in an e-commerce platform. They use their platform to create exactly what is needed along with the support to keep it running smoothly.
Technology for e-commerce platforms advanced considerably over the last decade as online shopping quickly replaced physically visiting stores. If you need proof of online shopping being the new norm, visit a mall and see the empty storefronts.
Selling products online no matter what they are needs an e-commerce platform. It’s the command center for all your business metrics.
Is The E-Commerce Platform Easy to Use?
With competition fierce and customers seeking more from their shopping experience, you need an e-commerce platform that is easy to use and navigate by customers. If your site isn’t user-friendly, then people won’t take time to go through it and see your products.
If your platform suffers from slow-loading pages or hard-to-understand navigation, then you not only lose customers but also Google rankings. User experience is now an important factor for ranking in search engines.
You also need a platform that is reliable. If a customer orders one product, but your shopping cart shows them buying something different, then you won’t get a favorable review. It must have a reliable shopping cart, billing, and shipping programs.
Most people don’t shop on a computer but on their phone. How does the e-commerce site look on a mobile phone? Ask about their mobile-friendliness and if they can make sure it looks good on screens of all sizes.
If it works great on desktop, but not on mobile, then you’ll lose customers.
Security Is Major Priority
You’ve probably seen the news articles about various businesses getting hacked and customer information stolen. When someone orders from your site, they give their credit card and other sensitive information.
They trust you to keep that information secure. Check the security profile for the various e-commerce sites and ask representatives how they protect customer information. All it takes is one data leak to sink a business.
Don’t assume everything is secure because it’s an e-commerce program. Find out if they’ve had any leaks in the past or what they use to combat hackers.
Does The Platform Integrate Well?
Your business website isn’t the only avenue you have to sell your products. You can sell them on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. Many e-commerce solutions integrate with other programs and platforms.
This not only lets you expand your product availability but maintain all the data and other information under one roof. What’s the point of having an e-commerce hub if you must check three different places to keep track of inventory?
One of the biggest benefits of e-commerce platforms is analytics. You can track sales, inventory, and much more. If you want to sell items across multiple platforms make sure the analytics integrate as well, so you have a complete picture of your sales.
What Are Their Payment Options?
When a customer buys an item, how can they pay for it? Do you accept Apple Pay, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, or American Express? Every customer is different and has their own preference for payment.
If they want to use PayPal, but you only allow Visa or Mastercard, then they might not choose your product. There are many payment gateways you can use, so choose a platform that provides you with the most options at the best price.
Don’t forget to ask about fees. Payment processors take a percentage of the money every time someone uses the service. You need to know how much.
Choose the E-Commerce Platform that’s Right for You
Take your time choosing an e-commerce platform for your business. It’s a major investment and difficult and costly to change once implemented. Your customers deserve the very best and so do you.
If you’re worried about choosing an e-commerce platform or can’t make up your mind, then contact our expert web designers today.
E-Commerce No To The Quo