You’ve made the decision to go into ecommerce business, and now you’re looking to choose the best platform. Your business needs an ecommerce platform in order to sell online, whether you’re selling on your own website or via one of the major marketplaces like Amazon or eBay.
The world of ecommerce platforms can be difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t have much experience with them. There are hundreds to choose from, and each one has its own set of features and functions that may or may not fit your business model perfectly. How do you choose the best ecommerce platform for your business? Here are nine essential tips that will help you along the way.
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Why use an eCommerce platform?
The most common reasons people use an eCommerce platform are
: This may sound like a duh point, but using an eCommerce platform allows you to get rid of things like shopping carts and payment processing. You won’t have to set up anything new because all that’s already handled by your chosen platform. The last thing you want is another system you need to upkeep and manage.
: Most platforms allow you to create more than one storefront on their platform, which is especially useful if you’re trying to sell on multiple marketplaces (like eBay and Amazon).
: When it comes down to it, keeping your business simple is key. If you can let a third-party handle some of your processes for you, why wouldn’t you?
The Different Types of eCommerce Platforms
There are various different types of eCommerce platforms available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. A comprehensive comparison of the types of eCommerce platforms can be found below.
Open Source eCommerce platforms
By far, open source platforms are some of the most popular on-demand software options out there. They’re also a great choice for entrepreneurs who want to get their online store off their feet without spending any money upfront.
The most popular platforms include Magento and WordPress (which, technically, is open source). Shopify is an especially attractive option if you don’t have much technical expertise; it’s easy to use and one of most user-friendly ecommerce software options out there. However, it doesn’t offer as many features as other programs that require more effort to set up.
Licensed eCommerce Platform
A licensed ecommerce platform is an eCommerce website that is owned and operated by a third party. Licensed ecommerce platforms are generally hosted by a web host, such as HostGator or Bluehost, and may be available as part of a shared hosting plan.
Platform features vary depending on what you choose to purchase, but typically include shopping cart software, customized checkout pages, and tailored support channels.
Hosted eCommerce Platform
An easy and efficient way to start your online store, especially if you’re running an online business or considering starting one. A hosted eCommerce platform allows you to work online but on someone else’s website or server, which means all of your data is stored off-site in a secure location.
You get an online storefront where potential customers can easily search for and find what they want, without a lot of hassle from setting up programming languages like HTML and CSS to learn how to build out your own site.
In addition, hosted platforms are simple to use as they come with point-and-click functionality that lets you add items quickly so that you can start selling right away.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS platforms typically don’t come with any special tools or systems already built-in. This makes them extremely scalable and developer-friendly, but it also means that you’ll have to build most things from scratch.
For example, if you were to use a SaaS platform such as Magento or Shopify, they would be responsible for maintaining your web server; however, with PaaS platforms like BigCommerce or WooCommerce, you’ll be responsible for providing all aspects of web hosting including server uptime, security patches, and automated scaling if necessary.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, it’s worth considering because with PaaS platforms comes flexibility and freedom—you get to choose which features will work best for your business.
Have a look at 9 tips to get you started on choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business:
Check your budget
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If you’re starting a business from scratch, it’s important to first check your budget. Choosing an ecommerce platform can cost from $100 to $20,000 per month depending on what platform you use. You may have all sorts of ideas about which platform is right for your business and why. But if your budget isn’t in line with what you want, then you might have to adjust things. It’s better to start with a plan that aligns with how much money you have than it is to get so attached to one idea that nothing else is even possible!
Sealed with Security
When looking at platforms, it’s important to take security into account. This is especially true if you plan on storing user data (such as credit card information). If your platform has been hacked before, ask yourself if they are going to come out with a solution that prevents it from happening again. Ask around and look online to see if people have any complaints about how secure their platform is. The best thing you can do here is to familiarize yourself with common security protocols so you can recognize when a company isn’t using them properly. Once again, it never hurts to ask!
User friendliness of platform
Pick a platform that’s user-friendly, easy to navigate and intuitive. While it may seem obvious, your site will be a lot more successful if it’s actually easy to use! Also consider what kind of mobile experience you want your visitors to have; mobile traffic is growing rapidly, so make sure that you can scale up and down easily as necessary.
Make Sure Your Team Can Use It
Like any new tool, you should make sure that your staff is trained and comfortable with your chosen platform before integrating it into your business. If they’re not up to speed, they’ll have trouble helping customers use it effectively as well. One of Shopify’s strengths is that it allows users to change themes and edit products in a very simple way—but some businesses may not find that feature attractive enough if their team isn’t tech-savvy.
Comes with many features
Many e-commerce platforms are packed with a wide range of features that may be more than you need. When deciding which one is right for your business, make sure you consider if it comes with all of your desired functionalities. Some online marketplaces require more flexibility than others, so make sure that whatever system you choose has everything you need. It’s better to have too many features than not enough!
Platform that markets your business
You also need to find a platform that markets your business too. When you take into account SEO, mobile commerce, overall design, and brand-ability; you’ll want to make sure you pick a platform with everything it takes to market your business online successfully as well as sell effectively on mobile devices or desktop computers.
The number of e-commerce platforms out there can be overwhelming, which is why it’s so important to do your research and choose a platform that is affordable and matches your business needs. If you pick a platform that costs too much or takes a lot of time and energy to learn, you might end up losing money without ever getting off the ground. Use these nine tips above as a guide when choosing an e-commerce platform. Once you find one that works well with your business, stick with it—and get ecommerce website development services that help you customize your platform as per your needs!