The number of e-commerce platforms available today is overwhelming for many new businesses. Choosing the right one can be difficult. Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your business.
Why Your Choice Matters
For any e-commerce business, the platform that they choose is very important. You can have every other element of your business in place, but if you choose the wrong e-commerce platform, it will all be for naught. Just as you would put a lot of time and thought into choosing physical retail premises for a high street business, you should put a similar amount of care and attention into your choice of e-commerce platform. The platform that you choose will have an impact on your experience of the business owner, and the experience of your customers.
There are four key metrics that are affected by your choice of e-commerce platform. They are growth, i.e., how quickly your business is able to grow, the running costs of your business, your customer engagement, and the overall objectives that you pursue. Far too many e-commerce businesses get hung up on superficial issues like the aesthetics of the platform and don’t think about all the essential components that are beneath the surface.
Below we have outlined some of the most important features to look for when you are choosing an e-commerce platform. Every e-commerce business is different, and there is no single platform that is going to be best for everyone. However, by considering the right variables when making your decision, you can identify the most suitable choice for you.
Before you commit to any e-commerce platform, or indeed any kind of software for your business, you should first ensure that you have vetted the company behind it. Even a cursory search online for user experiences will give you valuable insight into what it’s like to use the platform in question. When it comes to the most mainstream options, you can be confident of a good experience. However, it is important to remember that every e-commerce business is different, and just because another type of business has had success with a particular vendor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will benefit just as much.
You can never know too much about the vendors that you are going to be going into business with before you engage their services. If there is anything that you are unsure about, then it is worth contacting the vendor directly. Not only will this get you the information that you need, but it will also give you an opportunity to see how the vendor responds to such requests. As we will come on to, customer service is very important, and this is a great way of establishing how serious the vendor is about customer relations.
Even the best e-commerce platform will occasionally run into issues. While these are a rarity for most people, you want to be certain that if any issues do arise, there is a solid customer support team that you can turn to. Customer support isn’t just for troubleshooting problems with the platform, either. They are also there to field any questions that you might have about the service.
Most e-commerce platforms today will offer 24/7 customer support through a variety of channels. Live chat customer support is now commonplace, meaning that you can have a real text-based conversation with a customer support agent who will walk you through any issues that you are having. It is worth checking which customer support channels are available before you commit, so you can be certain that you will be able to reach out to customer support if and when you need them.
If your business is just starting out, then you will want to choose an e-commerce platform that reflects this. There is no sense in paying for a whole bucket of features that you will never use. However, many of these advanced features are things that you will need to call upon in the future as your business grows.
This is where scalability comes into the equation. There are a number of e-commerce platforms out there that are perfectly suitable for a business that is just launching but which can be scaled up with the business as it grows. This means that you will only ever be paying for the kind of service that you need, and you won’t have to switch providers in a few years when your business is bigger.
Search engine optimization is an important consideration for any e-commerce business. Without it, your business will be difficult to find online, and you will be missing out on a significant portion of the traffic that you could be receiving if you invested properly in SEO. Choosing a platform that has decent built-in SEO tools will make a huge difference here and can make your life a hell of a lot easier than it otherwise would be.
You can further enhance the SEO score for your business by adding a blog to your e-commerce website. Choose a platform that provides you with the tools to do this, in addition to the tools you need to build the e-commerce component of your website
Most internet browsing today is done from mobile devices. Any e-commerce business that is not optimized for mobile is going to be throwing away business. If a potential customer accesses your e-commerce platform from a mobile device but is not able to load the page correctly, they will quickly leave and head to one of your competitors.
The best e-commerce platforms today will automatically optimize your website to display properly on mobile devices; you don’t need a lift a finger. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference this can make. By making your e-commerce site accessible to mobile users, you are increasing your potential reach.
Choosing the right platform is crucial for any e-commerce business; it will determine the experience for both you and your customers. Fortunately, finding the right platform is straightforward once you know what to look for.