Finding the right e-commerce platform for your business can be a real quandary for many online retailers. Sometimes it’s because you are new to the huge realm of e-commerce, or sometimes it’s simply needing to migrate your online shop to a more efficient and modern platform. Whichever group you come under, what many online retailers don’t realise is that picking the wrong platform can become a costly mistake impeding your business from performing to an optimum capacity.
Many retailers, full-stop, think that by transferring their businesses online that life will become a lot easier. However, the reality of making this move is crucial and a step that deserves pre-planning before execution. This is because to build a profitable e-commerce business you need to choose the right third-party platform such as Shopify, WooCommerce or Magento to name a few.
You may have even already been selling products through your own made-to-order website, but to really grow your business and profits a third-party platform like the ones mentioned will eventually become a must.
Here are some tips to assist you to make the right choice and guarantee your e-commerce business success.
TIP ONE: ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS FIRST
A great blog to read on this topic Ecommerceguide.com suggests you begin the process of finding the best suited e-commerce platform by asking yourself the following questions:
What is my realistic budget?
Will I be able to absorb any costs if I am short on funds?
Your business in general
How do I want my online shop to look?
How do I want my shop to navigate?
What devices do I want my online shop to work on?
How do I want to display my products?
What are my purchasing / shipping requirements?
What sort of things do I need for the backend of online shop to work well? (If you are not sure about this one, just park it until later).
What special features do I want my online shop to have? For example, a ‘click-to-call’ or ‘click-to-map’ button?
How do I think my customers find me online?
What channels do I think they will use?
How do I want their orders to be fulfilled?
How do I want to manage and communicate with customers? For example, by using digital marketing, using a loyalty program, and informing via blogs and so forth?
The future of your business
Where is my business now and where do I want it to go?
What are the features and experiences that my site (if you already have one) is currently offering?
Am I planning to expand to more stores or markets?
Do I intend to introduce more fulfilment options?
After answering these questions, you’ll find yourself with a list of features and tools that you will need for your online store. Ecommerceguide.com then suggests organising your list into a spreadsheet where you can easily order your information and compare what you need up against, for example, one of the potential platforms such as Shopify, to see if there is a natural fit.
If you have a medium to larger business make sure to invite all your different specialists to be part of this process so that you are covering all business areas and needs like IT, sales, marketing (digi), customer service and so forth. Another point to add in here is, if you are completely new to the world of e-commerce this is where you look to find a specialised e-commerce designer / developer (make sure to fully check their credentials) and invite them into this process to guide you through finding the right answers to these questions and matching them to the platform that is right for your business.
TIP TWO: ADD UP ALL THE COSTS
When you are doing your budget, remember there may be hidden costs to factor in. You may already be thinking that whichever platform you choose there will be associated costs.
Hidden costs can come in different areas depending on the platform you choose. For example, when you are building your site (noting that some platforms and independent e-commerce consultants include some of these individual points in one big fee) some areas with costs are:
- Designing and building costs – (this can include your e-commerce developer charges)
- Platform costs (sign-up and monthly fees)
- Hosting fees (monthly or yearly costs)
- Upgrading costs
- Adding new features and improvement costs
- UX change costs
- Transaction costs
- Maintenance costs
- Security costs
- Extra 24/7 support costs (if separate from platform costs for special services).
TIP THREE: RESEARCH, RESEARCH AND RESEARCH THE REALM OF E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS
Another informative blog Coredna.com advises to make sure to research all the e-commerce platforms and to not just go on the most popular on your list. Selecting the correct platform is not that easy, because there are other factors involved like making sure the list of requirements you have organised in your spreadsheet are all covered.
Make sure to research all the different kinds of e-commerce platform options: Building your own platform (if your business is simple and small), traditional e-commerce platforms (one you purchase a license and customise), open-source e-commerce platforms (no license purchasing involved), cloud e-commerce platform (that has a hosting system) and a SaaS e-commerce platform (fixed monthly fee that covers maintenance, updates and so forth).
Additionally, when you are researching e-commerce platforms you should also consider if there are any e-commerce platforms that are specifically suited to your business and the products you are selling. For example, Shopify is a great platform to use for a product heavy apparel business, check out our recent client builds here for more ideas. And for even more suggestions on the right platforms for particular markets click here.
The other things to consider when researching your platforms are:
- Does the product category suit the size of your business?
2. If you require global currencies does the platform have this facility?
3. Is the shipping in accordance with all your business demands?
4. Does the platform give you all the data / analytics you need for your financials and market research?
5. Is Google merchant integration available?
6. Is Facebook easily integrated with the platform?
7. Can customers review your products easily?
8. Are there different payment options like PayPal, credit card, and debit card.
TIP FOUR: COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
Last tip we have for you are the three things to avoid when you are choosing your e-commerce platform. These are:
- Picking a platform with a rigid architecture, make sure to go for the platforms that provide modern more flexible internal structures offering easy upgrades, easy ways of updating content /products, easy components that can work by themselves and together seamlessly.
- Picking a platform that does not make scaling easy for different sized businesses and for businesses that want to have a healthy growth margin month-on-month or year-on-year.
- Picking a complicated platform with too many wiz-bang features and tools. Sometimes these can be costly and offer more than the list of requirements your business needs (including growth needs that is).
In summary, makes sure to put in the full research time, money, and effort so that you pick the perfect e-commerce platform for your business. If you don’t, it can be a very costly mistake to choose the wrong e-commerce package for you. Also, make sure that you go through the selection process methodically because if you don’t you won’t turn your customer traffic into the maximum sales you should be getting. It’s critical that your site is running to its optimum capacity and that you are on the most reliable and effective service you can get.