The decision is simple if you know what you need and where to find it. Here are some questions that will help you understand your needs better.
- What is my budget?
- How big an inventory do I have? Do I have to track these?
- How will my customers pay?
- Do I want customer reviews and comparisons?
- Will it be compatible with my data, and will it be able to integrate new data?
- How customisable do I want my platform to be?
- What are my future business plans?
Once your needs are clear, it’s about understanding what are the main considerations in choosing an E-Commerce platform:
Performance and Delivery
- Self-hosted vs. Web-hosted: A self-hosted solution is where you will be responsible for building the site from scratch. So,hire your team of designers, developers, testers and security experts to ensure your website is up and running with a good domain name. While highly customizable, it is expensive, and it will take anywhere from a few months to years before all the required features are ready. A hosted solution is ready-to-integrateand provides a variety of features such as design templates, maintenance, analytics and security. They also provide unlimited storage of data and unlimited bandwidth. This kind of solution will have competitive pricing and may just take a few days to put together and launch.
- Speed: Research by Kissmetrics claims that 40% of consumers will abandon the website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The platform should be able to handle visitors (even spikes) under acceptable website loading times. So, the architecture of the site (how it is built), coding (how the commands perform) and caching are all important parameters here.
- Mobile Friendly: Choose something that is mobile compliant. You don’t want to ignore a large chunk of users shopping on mobiles and this is also an important parameter for top rankings on Google.
Tip: A platform with independent page titles, meta descriptions, image tags and linking URLs have a higher chance of success.
Customisation& third-party integration
- Designs: Some platforms even come with options to completely personalize the layout, the colour combination and even the font. A good platform should provide a business with easy design customization to suit your brand.
- Compatibility and Integration: Importing existing data from your current database or Excel can make things easier and faster. Compatibility is key, as it smooths out any kinks in the back-end and ensures that the business doesn’t need to change its core database to be compatible with the new platform.
Tip: Many e-commerce platforms also have the option of integrating social media accounts, inventory tracks, accounting and customer service, which is highly beneficial.
Reliability and Scalability
- Future Growth:The size of the stock and thecurrent business and future growth analysis is an important factor to consider while choosing your business. Selecting an option that fits your current needs because it is not as expensive may seem like a smart move, but you need to consider your future needs as well.
Tip: Take a stock on size- can it handle the data and products you are likely to run through. Consider what you’re selling, digital or physical goods, and evaluate the way it works regarding downloads, shipping costs, etc.
- Platform Reliability: Choosing a platform that is already functioning (with proven clients) and is maintained well ensures its reliability. The platform should be able to handle transactions securely and command a high up-time.
Security and Support
- Fraud protection: Look for a platform that doesn’t just provide you with basic protection, but assures protection and monitoring against hacking and fraud as well.
- Customer support: The best e-commerce sites have an easily accessible customer support section. A customer support call center, chat or even forums will help your business get help when needed.
Features and Pricing
- Easy payment options: If the platform can integrate multiple payment methods, then it will maximize sales. For customers to have a hassle-free shopping experience, various payment functionalities, including those compatible for international customers, need to be available on the platform.
- Pricing: Based on the subscriptions and packages, each platform provides certain features to enhance your business. Evaluate the pricing structure of each package and decide what is best for your company, considering current as well as future needs.
- Analytics and reporting: The platform must have features to analyse user behaviourregarding the time spent on the page, the bounce rate, the returns you get, as well as insight on the visitor demographics. The analysis must be able to help your business in gaining insight into customer behaviour.
Tip: Choosing only what the business needs, and not necessarily what you want, is the best way to go about making this decision. Keep your fixed costs as low as possible, make budget decisions wisely.
One size does not fit all, and there are many variables to consider. However, if you’ve followed the above guidelines and made a well thought out decision, you will be able to choose an e-commerce platform that will help your business thrive.