As eCommerce keeps growing in the U.S. in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and now more than half of the population prefers not to leave their houses to buy what they need, options for selling online keep increasing.
In 2021 there are nearly 400 eCommerce platforms you can use for your business, and with such a wide array of options, everyone can get confused. If you are launching your online business, you may have many unanswered questions on your mind. How do you choose one, and what are the aspects to consider before deciding where to sell? How does eCommerce work, and can the platform you choose affect your sales? With so many eCommerce platform options, how do you pick only one?
Luckily you don’t need to sit down and learn every platform available for your business but identify the features it must have to sell your products effectively.
How do eCommerce platforms work? Do I need one?
Now that you’re about to launch your online business, you may begin wondering how do eCommerce platforms work and whether you need one to succeed.
Unless you don’t aim to sell online, which is implausible for an eCommerce store, you always need an eCommerce platform. It is a software application that will allow you to sell your products online and manage various operations.
In short, it’s a hub of your business from where you operate, as an Airport traffic control tower from where you can monitor and direct aircraft in the air. Do you need one? Yes, unless you want your airplane to stay on the ground or your products remain in your warehouse without bringing income and profit.
If you want to sell online, you’ll need an eCommerce platform, and it’s essential to choose it accordingly. Here’re the aspects to consider.
Pricing and Payment Options
No surprise that eCommerce platforms have a monthly fee – they’re businesses on their own, after all, and need to gain revenue, so most probably, you’ll have to pay for the platform where you sell. One of the aspects to consider when choosing a platform is its price, as the costs vary.
You should also think about payment options and how your customers will be paying for their purchases. Some platforms don’t allow payment via third-party vendors such as PayPal, which can be a great inconvenience for many customers and result in an abandoned shopping cart. Think of which forms of payment you want to accept first and consider them when choosing the right platform for your business.
Other Costs of Your eCommerce Store
Pricing per month is one thing — building and maintaining the store is a whole other story. When choosing the eCommerce platform, it’s essential to determine the actual costs of running the eCommerce site, such as building, developing, and maintaining costs. Some platforms are more complex than others, so you may be needing to hire a specialist even when the site needs simple security updates.
Easy Shop Setup
Building and running an online store is not a simple task, and when you already have so much on your plate, the last thing you want is to choose a platform that puts you in a vicious cycle. Choosing a platform that is easy to set up and design will help ease the process and start selling your products without knowing how to code. Some platforms offer templates that allow you to create a professional-looking site without the expensive help of web design wizards.
Even if you choose the easiest-to-use platform in the universe, things can get tricky and challenging when problems occur. When something can go wrong, it will, and it happens to every eCommerce store. Not to halt your online store for an entire day for a simple tech issue, choose the vendor providing 24-hour necessary support to help you resolve the problem or issue when it persists and guide you through building your online store if needed. Many platforms offer support through various channels, including email, webchat, and by phone. Unless you are a tech guru with extensive knowledge in eCommerce platforms and web development, choose an eCommerce platform with a solid customer support team.
Choose an SEO-Friendly Platform
Marketers like us are obsessed with SEO for a good reason – it allows prospective customers to find your business. Nearly 50% of shoppers use Google to discover or find a new item or product to buy, and to attracts these users, you must optimize your website for search engines. So, one of the crucial aspects to keep in mind when choosing an eCommerce platform is that it must be SEO friendly and allow you to optimize your site for search engines. There you should be able to add your blog, get reviews, use your domain name, set up redirects, have a search-friendly navigation structure, etc.
Easy to Navigate and a Secure Platform
Have you ever entered a grocery store and left empty-handed? Only because you couldn’t find what you needed? Poor navigation is one reason why people sometimes go back to search engines without buying anything or even interacting with a website.
Internet users have more options at their fingertips than ever, and no matter what you sell, they will find an alternative website if yours fails to meet their requirements.
Your prospective customers expect a seamless shopping experience that is convenient and fast, so when choosing a platform for your business or using a template, keep navigation in mind.
When it comes to your customers investing their extra dollars into your products, ensure you are using a platform with top-notch security. Nobody wants their credit card to get stolen and see unexpected charges on their account. Choose an eCommerce platform supporting HTTPS/SSL for a safe and secure checkout and your customers’ peace of mind.
Back in the day, people would have to sit down, power up their big bulky computers, and scroll eCommerce sites to buy something from one of the popular eCommerce websites amongst not so many options. Fast forward to today, now most of your prospective clients own a smartphone, and they also have a vast array of options when it comes to eCommerce websites. More than 5.1 billion people worldwide own mobile devices, and the share of mobile commerce in all eCommerce is expected to rise to 72.9% by 2021.
Now that mobile shopping can become the primary channel for shopping, the mobile-friendliness of a website has become one of the crucial aspects to consider when building a site. What happens when your site doesn’t properly load on users’ devices? Nothing – they’ll not buy your products, nor will they interact with your content, so is it worth having and running such a website?
Besides, Google, where most online experiences begin, will not rank your pages high if they aren’t optimized for mobile users.
Unsurprisingly, one of the primary aspects to keep in mind when choosing an eCommerce platform is mobile-friendliness and whether it allows customers to access your site easily. The better user experience on your site will bring more sales and revenue to your store.
When it comes down to measuring your success, it’s all about numbers: how much you sell, how much you spend, how much profit you gain, how many orders your store receives, etc. If it’s all about numbers, then how can you monitor the success of your business? By knowing the correct numbers.
Monitoring your store’s performance will help your business grow. It’s crucial to choose an eCommerce platform that allows you quickly access all the stats you need, such as the number of sales and orders, payment methods, cart abandonment, and more.
Owning an online store of your own doesn’t have to mean you exclusively sell on your website. Businesses use different marketplaces to reach a wider audience, and selling on multiple platforms is common among online businesses.
Dealing with so many different places to operate and monitor your sales may sound like a headache. Luckily, integration with other channels helps you automate the process, so you don’t have to do extra work on every marketplace you sell, such as Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, or your own site.
Integration with your Facebook business account will enable you to sync your products to Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. Platforms with built-in integrations with Facebook and Instagram will allow you can market to online shoppers directly in their news feeds without additional work. Similarly, you can integrate your Amazon seller dashboard on your eCommerce platform to connect with potential customers and create listings from your online store.
Integration is crucial for eCommerce websites, as different marketplaces offer unique opportunities to target larger audiences and increase online sales. Moreover, some people will start searching for products on Amazon, so instead of thinking of it as your competitor, think of Amazon as an eCommerce Google that many people visit to find what they need.
Identify Your Needs
Finally, when selecting the best eCommerce platform for your business, identify your business needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what might work for a large company may not be the best choice for a startup company. If you are beginning your seller’s journey, you may want to find an eCommerce platform geared towards starting a new business that is flexible and easy to use and allows room for growth.
We hope these aspects will help you feel more confident in choosing the right platform for your business that fits your brand, is easy to use, provides customization opportunities, and is flexible to use. The right platform will help your business grow, reach prospective clients, and make more sales.
If you’re still unsure what you’re doing or want someone to manage your integrations for you, contact us at Internet Marketing Geeks. We combine twenty years of digital marketing experience with innovation.