You’ve decided you’re ready to branch out into the world of online retailing but now you’re faced with the decision of which e-commerce platform is right for you. Picking the right platform for your business is crucial and could save you a lot of money long term if you choose the right one from the start. There are so many different solutions available offering different features that it can often be pretty overwhelming. A few of the more popular e-commerce platforms include Neto, Shopify, Woocommerce and Magento.
Now before you go any further there’s a few important things you need to consider.
All platforms will incur some form of monthly cost to manage. Whilst some platforms are available for free they will require you to purchase ongoing hosting. Other platforms will include hosting in their subscription. You also need to take into consideration additional hidden fees such as transaction fees, bandwidth or plug ins. Know your budget and find a platform that meets your marketing plan.
Hosted or self-hosted? If you’re new to the e-commerce and digital world I highly recommend looking for a hosted platform. A hosted e-commerce plan is an all-in-one buy and is included in your monthly subscription. Essentially you sign up and your store is ready to go. The software and hosting is provided and maintained by the company. Self-hosted platforms give you a lot more control over your digital business. You can personalise your store just the way you like – the sky is your limit! The catch? Self-hosted platforms are often open source meaning you will need to download and run the software yourself. You will also be responsible for your own hosting meaning you will need to set up a server to store your companies files.
How user friendly are the platforms you are considering and do you or your team have time to learn how to use them. Have you used an e-commerce platform before? Are you tech savvy? Some platforms are extremely user friendly, some platforms will require a lot of knowledge in web development. Find a platform that you are confident navigating the basic everyday needs.
Carefully consider what features are must haves, would be nice, and not necessary to run your e-commerce store. Each platform will include basic standard features and offer plug ins for additional features (often at an extra cost). Make sure to compare the included features for each platform and weigh up any additional costs. Features could include payment options, shipping calculators, automated email marketing and analytics.
Security is one of the biggest concerns for online consumers and you don’t want to be the next online retailer making headlines for customers being exposed to cyber crime. It is your responsibility to safeguard the privacy of your users so make sure you choose a platform that accords you with maximum security by connecting you to an SSL certified vendor or by providing you with an HTTPS site.
As your business grows you want to make sure your platform has the capability to grow with you. Does it offer a variety of features for both small and large businesses? When reviewing the pricing and features of each platform consider both short term and long term.
There is nothing worse than waking up one morning and your website is offline or checkout pages aren’t responding. I’ve been there before and trust me when I say there is nothing more stressful than trying to get your webstore functioning correctly before you loose too many sales. Having a platform that provides 24/7 customer support can be a lifesaver especially if you don’t have an in house developer.
One of the biggest things to consider is whether the platform is optimised for SEO. Did you know that 80% of clicks in a google search are on the top 4 links whilst the top link receives 10 x more clicks than the links at the bottom of the first page? This is why it is crucial to optimise your e-commerce store for SEO in order to increase traffic. Key things to look for when considering SEO is does the platform allow blogging capabilities? and are customers able to leave reviews?
Now that you’ve carefully considered these important factors it’s time to compare platforms. I’ve done some of the hard work for you and have compared four of the top e-commerce platforms and their features.
Still not sure which platform is right for you? Need help setting up your e-commerce store? I offer a variety of e-commerce packages to get you up and running! Check out my services.