There’s been a big shift in focus toward ecommerce these years, and it’s no surprise as to why. The ecommerce model works great on its own, or as a supplement to a business owner’s brick-and-mortar store. Thanks to the convenience, wide reach, and ease of engagement provided by the World Wide Web, entrepreneurs know they have the chance to score some pretty big bucks. But do they know to use the tools of ecommerce to their advantage?
Take the example of ecommerce platforms, or third-party providers of software that would allow any business owner to create their own virtual storefront. For sure, it is often a better idea to go with a third-party platform like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Volusion than to custom-build a platform for your site—the latter might leave a big hole in your pocket, all without having the track record of success that these big names have for themselves. But choosing one of these popular platforms over another could make or break your business; depending on the outcome, your business will either soar to new heights, or be held back from reaching its full potential.
Before you start your own ecommerce business on your own, you should think carefully about which ecommerce platform to sign up for. Here’s a list of seven factors that can help you decide!
- Where the costs will go. Cost is an important factor when choosing between third-party ecommerce platforms. It will require a large investment all the same, but one provider may offer you better value for money than another. Find out how much the monthly fees are per ecommerce platform, as well as how much they’ll charge for other items like additional bandwidth and server storage. Make sure that your company can spend just the right amount on services, and not in excess of the budget.
- Ease of integration. You should also find out how adaptable the ecommerce platform is to the plugins you’ll want in your online store. Some examples are plugins for accounting, web security, shipping, email marketing, and rewards points. If all of these can be accommodated by the third-party provider, then that’s a strong argument for signing up with them.
- Its user-friendliness—both to customers and to your business team. User-friendliness matters not only to your customers, but to your employees who are in charge of handling your products. Choose a platform that appeals to everyone across the board—i.e., easy to transact on, and easy to work with on a daily basis.
- Its SEO-friendliness. A great third-party ecommerce platform will also help you boost your SEO, or your search engine rankings to would-be customers. It will be to your advantage if you can host a blog or customer reviews on the platform, as both features will make your business more searchable online.
- Its mobile-friendliness. Many of your customers will be shopping on their smartphones or tablets as well as their desktop computers. That means that you’ll need an ecommerce platform whose search function works well on mobile. Moreover, its interface should look attractive on your website and be easy to maneuver from a touch screen.
- Its security. You’ll want to assure customers that your site is safe, secure, and considerate of their privacy. It is a good idea to sign up with an ecommerce platform that puts the same premium on security, such as one that supports HTTPS/SSL certification.
- The degree of customer service it comes with. Customer service is just as important in a virtual store as in real life—but for uniquely virtual problems, such as server downtime. Choose an ecommerce platform that can offer 24/7 customer service and multiple levels of support, such as for problems like these.
If equipped with the right ecommerce solution, your business could be well on its way to a handsome profit. Have faith in the pool of third-party providers you can choose from, as they are constantly evolving toward better levels of service. Here’s to finding the one that matches the goals, values, and intended strategies of your online business!