With the advent of online trading, an eCommerce platform has become a necessary formality for any significant business that intends to operate an online store.
Competition among online stores and the advancement in technology have brought about a complete paradigm shift in the expectations clients have of a business’s e-commerce platform.
To survive the cut-throat competition you need to come up with a well thought online strategy.
Choosing the appropriate platform for your business to leverage is not easy. Many factors come to play as there are also many different options available.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the ideal e-Commerce platform.
The budget at your disposal goes a long way into deciding the kind of e-commerce platform that you can implement. If you’re working on a small budget, you can consider using plugins like WordPress plugin and simple platforms like DPD. But even then, you will require an add-on that will come at a cost. Free open source Platforms like Magento and osCommerce will in many cases need an expert to install and set up. Hosted platforms like Shopify are in the middle of the spectrum and will cost a monthly price depending on the plan you choose. Custom and Enterprise are the costly platforms.
The kind of product on sale
The kind of product you’re selling will dictate the type of platform to implement. Features to look for include product options like size and color, tracking inventory, shipping and delivery, and connectivity to offline stores. Some e-commerce platforms are intended for particular products. Platforms like E-junkie, sendOwl, and DPD are suitable for selling and downloading digital content. WordPress plugins are also perfect for digital downloads. If you are selling physical products, then platforms like open source, hosted and enterprise will have the relevant features to support your business.
Another factor worth considering is whether your platform will integrate with CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CRM enables you to manage operational challenges such as sales decline, high client attrition, profitability tracking, and regulatory compliance among other factors that affect your bottom line. Shopify and Big Commerce are excellent examples of platforms that come with the CRM functionality.
Number of different products on offer
The number of different product on sale and product variation will determine the choice of the e-commerce platform. A website selling thousands of different products will need a different platform from a website dealing in one or two similar products.
Some aspects of your platform like the theme or functionality may require customization. Hosted platforms are rigid and do not support customization but are flexible as regards the look and the design of your website. Open source platforms offer complete customization but may require the assistance of a developer to effect the changes. Custom platforms are the best when it comes to customization, but they may not be cost effective for small businesses.
Where do you intend to host your store?
When it comes to hosting your store, you have the option of using e-commerce platform that comes with a hosting service or chooses to self-host your store. Hosted platforms like Shopify or Big commerce are ideal if you do not have a preference of where to host the site. Open source platforms and plugins are open to any hosting service. Self-hosting will give you not only control but also flexibility in using the features. Hosting services, on the other hand, will eliminate security and maintenance issues. They also provide more features and upgrades and most importantly their domain name will add credibility to your store.
Simple platforms like E-junkie will not necessarily require a designer, but complex ones will need a sound designer and developer. While e-commerce sites offer beautiful themes, they restrict any alterations to the design. The limitations may affect the functionality of the platform. Custom built designs are the best but are expensive especially for small businesses.
Ease of use
The best e-commerce platform should have a user-friendly dashboard for customers. A good platform is one that allows customers to pay directly on the website without redirection. A complicated checkout process might frustrate and drive away customers. Having multiple payment options is also a factor worth considering. It should equally have an easier to use admin dashboard for easier site maintenance.
E-commerce sites are a target for hackers and fraudsters. You must use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Authentication. Using SSL Certificate is recommended so as to ensure secure communication between your servers and your customers. If your platform is SSL certified and PCI compliant, customers will have the confidence in trading on your platform. Other invaluable security features are DDoS attack and fraud protection.
Type of support required
Free plugins and open source platforms will not provide you with customer support. Rather, you will be limited to user forums. Platforms like E-junkie offer customer support via email and a ticket system. Hosted platforms usually offer 24/7 customer support through email, telephone, live chat and community forums. An exceptional customer support is an integral part of any e-commerce business. An excellent customer support will result to repeat buyers. Customers who encounter a good experience buying on your portal will spread the word across.
An e-commerce website needs to change and grow to meet the demand. As your e-commerce business grows, the platform should scale with minimal effort thus avoiding excessive infrastructural management costs that can bring down your business.
Is the e-commerce platform responsive?
Lastly, more people make online purchases using smart phones and tablets. To tap into the growing market will require an e-commerce platform that is mobile ready. An excellent e-commerce platform should be a “one platform for all devices”. It should adapt to the screen resolution of the devices the customers are using. A responsive platform makes Marketing campaigns more cost-effective and easier to manage and is also better for SEO purposes. Content maintenance becomes easier as changes can be done through a single CMS.
Divyang is a Digital Marketing Consultant. He has more than 4 years of experience in SEO and Internet Marketing. This article he explain about how to select the best e-Commernce platform with Cheap SSL Certificate.