In the same way structural foundations are vitally important to the integrity of a building, ensuring you select an eCommerce platform that’s appropriate for your business can have a major impact on the success of your online store.
The good news is there are a number of eCommerce solutions to select from, each tailored specifically to the type of service you’re looking to deliver.
In this post we’ll walk you through how to select the right eCommerce platform for your business, geared towards your specific digital requirements.
#1. Undertake an honest evaluation of your eCommerce requirements
As mentioned there are a number of eCommerce platforms available on the market. Each of these platforms are targeted towards different types of sellers and all come with a different feature set. From solutions directly built for enterprise sellers listing thousands of products, to the local store selling a handful of items, each platform has its selling points and also varies greatly in price.
If you’re selling 10 items or less, you may not even need an eCommerce platform, simply a connector with a payment gateway. If you’re selling more than this, begin by evaluating where you want to take your business. Are you looking to expand, add more complex development capability to your site, and can you survive with an entry-level eCommerce platform without spending big on an enterprise solution?
#2. Review the market options
Researching the various capabilities and pricing options of an array of eCommerce platforms is vital to the success of your online store, as this can really burn a hole in your pocket if you get it wrong.
For example, in the SME market there are a number of free/community editions to select from which are well suited to the majority of online sellers. However, if you’re considering stepping up to an enterprise product, be aware that these services will commonly charge a percentage of all your sales with a minimum annual fee starting at a certain dollar amount. This can mean big dollars, so remember to do your calculations.
When selecting an eCommerce platform, we recommend:
- Reading the platform reviews of others in your market sector
- Taking each of the platforms for a test-drive prior to making your selection
- Reading the feature set of each platform and discuss internally with your team whether this will suit your needs in the longer term
- Evaluating the cost of upgrading from an SME solution to an enterprise solution if you’re an SME
- Reviewing the cost of hosting your eCommerce solution
- Searching employment websites and evaluating the cost of hiring developers with expertise in your chosen eCommerce platform. For example, if you’re considering Magento as your eCommerce solution, you should review how much companies in your local area are paying for full-time and contract Magento developers. You may also want to reach out to a digital agency who offer Magento development to evaluate the affordability of outsourcing ongoing development of your eCommerce solution.
- Evaluating how easy it is to add new products, bundle items, and how well the platform integrates with payment gateways that support your local currency.
- Checking the quality of product support forums. If you’re eCommerce platform provides limited or costly support, we recommend steering away from this service as you will undoubtedly need support at some point in the future.
- Researching the security of your eCommerce store. This should include any known-issues or product vulnerabilities.
#3. The eCommerce platforms you should consider
If you’re ready to begin evaluating eCommerce platforms for your online business, below are some widely recommended eCommerce solutions grouped by market sector. For those of you using WordPress, we’ve also provided some handy plugins you can use to extend your WordPress installation.
Enterprise eCommerce platforms:
SME eCommerce platforms:
WordPress eCommerce plugins
#4. Assess your eCommerce platform’s support for alternative payment options
These days’ customers expect to be able to make payment online by a variety of means. This means that offering a credit card only payment facility will likely be a barrier for you from making sales. With this in mind you will want to consider adding the following payment options to your site:
If you’re not familiar with these payment options, each offer various benefits to purchasers and sellers. PayPal has been around for a number of years offering digital payment solutions and their own payment gateway, whilst AfterPay offer instalment payments which is an excellent option for eCommerce retailers selling larger items.
Want to get more cutting edge? Bitcoin, the world’s best-known digital currency is finding it’s way into more and more online stores each day and is a little like trading stock for sales. As the price of Bitcoin fluctuates you will need to monitor this in relation to your price per item, but if you’re trading Bitcoins for sales and the price keeps going up, you could stand to make a great deal of extra cash over time.
#5. Evaluate any design limitations
One of the most important elements eCommerce retailers should consider is how their store looks and feels. When choosing an eCommerce platform, you will want to make sure that you’ve got full access to customize all aspects of your store design. This should include your:
- Home page
- Product category pages
- Product pages
- Shopping cart, and
- Product search facility
If there are any restrictions around design, this should be seen as a red flag when selecting an eCommerce platform. If you’re not sure about the restrictions of your eCommerce platform, I recommend talking to your local eCommerce professional for advice.
Selecting an eCommerce platform is an exciting part of launching an online store, however there are a number of areas you will want to evaluate before committing to a particular platform.
If you’re new to eCommerce, web development or online marketing, I recommend reaching out to a professional in your area with expertise in the platform you’re considering for a confidential discussion.