If you plan on selling goods and/or services through your website, you will need the right technology to do so. If you decide to allow users to purchase online, you will need to choose the right platform for your business model.
What should you look for in an eCommerce platform?
Are you pumped to hear that the eCommerce industry is alive and booming? Are you digging the idea of bringing home big bucks from selling all of your sweet goods and services online? Are you suddenly realizing that, after typing “eCommerce platforms” into a search bar, your ears are emitting plumes of smoke because a small explosion boomed in your head after reading “About 117,000,000 results (0.72 seconds)” at the top of the page?
While there are an infinite number of eCommerce platforms to choose from, there are ways for your online business to narrow down the playing field. Here are nine essential features to look:
1. Easy shop setup.
Look for a platform that is easy to set up and easy to design. You want the ability to fully capture the feel of your unique brand, so take a look at the different templates each platform offers. Templates are great because they don’t require you to hire outside help and they don’t require you to be a design whiz to create a professional look and make a bold statement.
2. Easy to navigate and secure.
Have you ever visited a website that’s hard to navigate? Usually it goes something like this: You’re browsing for a new pair of sandals and you find a pair you really like on a website that looks like it’s stuck in 1996. You ignore the outdatedness because YOU NEED THESE SANDALS, and then you waste 40 minutes of your life because you can’t, for the love of Jiminy Cricket, figure out how to navigate to the checkout aisle. And then you go to bed mad and sandal-less.
Don’t send your customers to bed mad (and barefoot). The online shoppers of today expect a seamless experience that’s quick and painless. They’re itching to spend money, so don’t have them fly over Neptune and jump through fire rings to buy your product.
And when it comes to payment processing, be sure the eCommerce platform you’re eyeing offers top-notch security. Look for a platform that supports HTPPS/SSL for a safe and secure checkout.
Sometimes having too many options can feel like an overwhelming burden—similar to the cereal aisle at the grocery store. But when it comes to integration for eCommerce platforms, having a plethora of options to choose from can be a happy perk, especially if your business is looking to grow.
Look for a platform that integrates with your other existing systems and marketing channels. Does it integrate with Facebook? Will it run smoothly with your eCommerce CRM sales and marketing platform … ahem, Drip? Does it work with Instagram? Are plugins and extensions available?
When shoppers are looking for a particular product or service—like what your store is selling—it should be easy for them to find your business. You want to ensure that your online store ranks high in search results, especially if you’re a new eCommerce store or a small online shop. To do this, look for an eCommerce platform that’s SEO-friendly—you can use your own domain name, add your own blog, collect customer reviews—all to help drive shoppers to your business organically.
When searching for an eCommerce platform, be sure it allows customers easy access to your website. The easier a customer can interact with your brand, the easier it’ll be to make a sale.
Your online store is (or will be very shortly) in the business of making money, so it’s important to monitor your store’s performance. Look for an eCommerce platform that helps you keep tabs on all of the important things—number of sales, payment methods, order amounts, and more—and displays stats in an easy-to-understand format. As an eCommerce business owner, the last thing you want is to play the numbers guessing game.
7. Tech support.
8. Customer payment options.
If it isn’t easy for your online customers to pay for a product or service, how are you going to bring home the bacon (or the maple bacon donut)? PayPal, Square, Apple Pay, and Stripe are a few examples of popular payment gateways for eCommerce stores. Be sure to consider what forms of payment you’re willing to take when searching for an eCommerce platform.
Some platforms come with standard monthly fees, others offer flat rates, some charge per transaction, and some eCommerce platforms even require additional costs for app subscriptions. Before you commit to a platform, do your homework, weigh the pros and cons, and stick to your budget so that you have room to grow.
Choose Your Own Delicious Adventure
Ultimately, all seven eCommerce platforms reviewed in this blog at least touch on nine essential features to look for in a platform. What really separates one platform from the next boils down to extra available features. So, when it comes time to make a final decision, do your research, account for all flavorful toppings and perks (chocolate frosted, pudding filled, bacon sprinkled), and listen to your gut. Yum.
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