Whether you are launching a webstore to sell inventory, dropship, or as a platform for your own digital products, these days you will use an eCommerce platform in order to do so.
Online sales have jumped to $26.7 trillion dollars during the pandemic and while behemoths such as Amazon have faired very well, individuals running their own web stores using platforms such as Shopify and Wix have also enjoyed this increase in online shopping.
This all begs the question, which is the best method for you to create your web store and start making sales in 2021?
With so many eCommerce platforms available, knowing which is the best for your online business can be difficult.
That’s what we will look into today. What follows are some of the factors you should consider before choosing an eCommerce platform for your web store.
1. Your Budget and Expected Sales Volume
The first thing to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform is the price.
You will have a budget in mind, and if you are looking to stick to this, you will need to find a platform that has the resources you need (see below) within your price range.
Most services work on a monthly subscription plan, (although many will offer discounts if you pay annually).
Platforms that host your webstore and incorporate domain name purchasing will cost more than say a WordPress eCommerce website where you are expected to host the data via a separate hosting company.
Furthermore, price plans are generally set based on sales volume. This means that in order to stock more products and sell to more customers you need a higher-priced plan.
This of course means you should purchase a plan suitable to your needs. A starter plan will suit most beginner web stores, providing the service allows you to easily move to a more substantial plan once your sales volume is higher.
2. Payment Gateways
Another important factor is the number and type of payment gateways that the service allows. In other words, how will your customers be able to pay?
Clearly, credit and debit card payment methods have to be included, (watch what percentage the service expects to take for each transaction, however).
Beyond this, your customers may prefer to use Paypal or Stripe, or one of the countless other 3rd party payment gateways that facilitate online shopping in 2021.
In order to prevent potential customers from abandoning their shopping cart because their payment method is not supported, you should check that the eCommerce platform you plan to use can accommodate.
3. Integrations & Plugins
What 3rd party tools and integrations does the eCommerce platform support? This is an important question.
Shopify is a good bet in terms of integrations as so many tools have been designed to work with it.
Can the same be said of a more obscure or newer eCommerce platform that offers less support?
There are many tools that are required to efficiently run your business; from the aforementioned dropshipping apps to chatbot service, accounting plugins, and more.
This means that you should think about the tools you need and then opt for an eCommerce platform that offers the appropriate level of integration.
4. Good UX and Design (Front and Back end)
It goes without saying that the eCommerce platform you use should be well designed and intuitive to use.
Thankfully, most platforms fall into that category these days. Not only are they simple to use, but many also have great online support with tutorials and Youtube videos.
A good way of seeing if a platform is right for you is to sign up for a short trial (many offer this), or free versions that only charge once you start selling.
However, this is only one side of the user experience picture. How does the platform look on the front end? Can you build an attractive webstore that is easy for your customers to use?
For this, you should look into whether the platform offers different themes or the ability to design your own front-end.
Is it supported by 3rd party web store themes (such as the excellent Debutify theme that is specifically designed for Shopify)?
Are the designs responsive in that they look good on mobile devices?
Pay attention to the question of user experience and webstore designs before opting for a particular platform.
5. Superior Site Security
You will be taking payment details from your customers via your webstore.
This means that the store (and the eCommerce platform you build it on), has to offer exceptional security levels.
Your customer has to feel confident that their details are safe when they use your store.
To this end, the platform should support HTTPS/SSL for secure checkout while also being PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
Your web store needs to have an air of legitimacy about it. The platform you use will help achieve that.
6. Customer Service
The level of customer service that the platform provides is also important, especially if you are new to eCommerce sales and problems might arise.
Not only should you be able to get hold of customer support quickly if you need it, the response also needs to be satisfactory.
To ascertain this you may need to look at what previous customers have said about the platform.
Read reviews and forums; what is the general opinion? Are people happy or have issues been reported?
Software outages and server downtimes are other important variables. Is the platform reliable or are customers complaining about technical problems?
A service that offers 24/7 phone and/or chat support while also having a reputation for high uptime percentages should be what you are looking for.
And there you have it, 6important factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform for your business.
The platform is the foundation and building block for your online presence. It is imperative that you get this right. Following the tips above will help you achieve that.