A lot goes into setting up an effective eCommerce business. Growing steadily for the last decade, online sales recently saw a 15% leap in 2019 and it is only expected to rise in the upcoming years. Creating a good online store takes effort. The eCommerce platform you choose will influence how simple things are as well as limit how much flexibility or customization options you have. For example, platforms like Shopify are relatively simple to set up, while stores that use Magento are heavier and require constant maintenance.
An independent, custom eStore can be a viable option for some edge cases, but this requires technical expertise and will make it difficult to scale your business. An already developed eCommerce platform saves you time, money, and a lot of unnecessary hassle. Engineered to handle business models from Enterprise level to small businesses, eCommerce platforms aren’t just for the big guys, they’re for small business owners as well. Each platform has its own challenges, it’s about finding the platform that represents the most value for you and preparing for the accompanying challenges.
It can be difficult, however, figuring out what platform to choose for your eCommerce store. Several platforms are competing to offer the most value for eCommerce entrepreneurs. eCommerce is massive and everyone wants a piece.
Below we’re going to take a look at how to choose the right eCommerce platform for your business.
1. Calculate All Costs and Work it Out Beforehand
The very first thing you need to do is pay close attention to the price associated with different eCommerce platforms online. Bandwidths, transactions, server storage, plug-ins and apps are extra expenses you need to be aware of. You need to be clear on the requirements of your business so you’re not paying for anything that you don’t need. You need to be aware of the limitations of each platform, for example, if the platform is unable to accept payments via PayPal, this would mean a huge inconvenience for your customers and lead to shopping cart abandonment, and more such little details before settling down on a specific platform. There are also different types of costs involved in the platforms, namely: direct costs and indirect costs.
- Direct Costs: This includes license fee, renewal fee, development costs and the initial costs of website building.
- Indirect Costs: This basically includes all kinds of maintenance costs, UI & UX change costs, upgrading costs, adding up to the newest features, improvement costs and can increase with due course of time.
Here’s a chart containing some of the tariff details for the online eCommerce platforms:
2. Multi-channel Integration Capabilities
If you already have a seller account on Amazon besides your own eCommerce website, things can get hectic if you don’t have an online inventory management system to update and organize your stocks in real-time on both Amazon and your eStore. There’s also taxes, sales, and profit calculations to be made with each purchase. Without plugins, customer service support, this process can become overwhelming. This is exactly where multi-channel marketplace integration comes handy. For example, platforms like Shopify have plenty of tools to take care of smaller requirements.
Some of the most popular types of plugins are:
- Accounting plugins helping with sales, taxes, revenues, and profits
- Email marketing tools that keep customers updated regularly
- Shipping inventory management plugins
- Multi-channel marketplace integration plugins
Email marketing tools can be a good way to lead your customers to your store. Similarly, multi-channel marketplace integration can help load products and RSS feeds automatically. For example: Integrating the Amazon seller dashboard will synchronize your eStore with your Amazon seller account and other platforms like eBay, Etsy, Google Shopping; saving you time and encouraging more sales. Platforms like PrestaShop help your store synchronize with all your Google Shopping listings and will ensure your listings feature on the Google Shopping Catalogue without having to keep an additional tool/plugin for the same. Online inventory management has the capability to update your customers about fast selling items, limited available stocks as customers are browsing products, encouraging them to buy.
3. Choose the Right Hosting Provider
The right hosting company ensures all your data is securely stored in the right servers. Any problems with your hosting servers can impact your e-store heavily: slow loading speeds, increased chances of downtimes and even data theft. Therefore, it is better to undertake solid research before deciding on a hosting provider, as once the decision is made, switching between several hosting companies takes time. Since hosting providers are responsible for several crucial factors like page-speed, here’s a quick checklist that can help you find the right answers before signing up on something:
- Does the hosting company provide 24/7 support?
- Does the hosting company provide daily backups of your website?
- Is the hosting company providing a shared server? How many other websites are on the server at any given time?
- What exactly are the security precautions taken while sharing the server with other websites to avoid data loss or threat issues?
- Is the shared server going to impact any of your outgoing emails to customers in the event of any other website on the server getting blacklisted as spam?
SEO Compatibility Check:
For an eCommerce website, ranking higher on search results is very important, especially when people are actually looking for products like yours. Swearing to the standard SEO-enhancement tips like posting regular blogs, letting customers leave a review about your product isn’t always enough. When the competition is cut-throat, you need to look out for some of the other most important ways in which you can make your platform SEO-friendly:
- Adding a custom domain name
- Updating meta tags, meta descriptions
- Adding captions, descriptions to the images
- Access to the robot.txt (text file with instructions for search engine crawlers)
- Adding canonical tags as and where required
- Adding pagination to the product search results, in this way you can divide a long document into discrete pages
- Conversion into SEO friendly URL structures
- Accessing to update the XML sitemap
- API integration for the Google Analytics tool
5. Pro-Mobile Attributes:
Reports show that 60% of searches happen on the mobile, and that’s saying a lot. If not catering to mobile users, you’re losing a lot of potential sales and traffic. There can be two ways in which having a mobile-friendly eCommerce business can be ensured:
- Firstly, choose an eCommerce platform that comes with a mobile responsive theme. For instance, Shopify — there are tons of mobile responsive themes and templates available with Shopify.
- Secondly, choose an eCommerce platform that is mobile-responsive and comes with free native mobile apps. Ecommerce platforms like Genstore node.js come with native Android and iOS apps.
People are constantly shopping on their smartphones and whether they are in transit or waiting in the queue at the airport. ComScore reported that mobile commerce had grown from 45 percent in 2016 to 51.6% in the Q1 of 2019. Therefore, it’s recommended your store has a responsive design that looks flawless on any device.
Thanks to the recent update of the BERT algorithm by Google, Google encourages customers to search for products on their phones. The eCommerce websites that feature a mobile app rank higher on search results in Google as they provide a better user experience to more users.
6. Security Checks:
The credibility of an eCommerce platform is known for its capability to support HTTPS, SSL and is equipped with PCI-DSS compliant payment solutions that come as a standard for secure payment processors. Think about it, none of your customers would be willing to enter their credit card details on a website that breaches any basic security guidelines. As the issue of data threat and theft is becoming more and more evident to users, it is important that your eCommerce platform is secure and protected, especially from DDoS attacks. Google ReCAPTCHA can protect your website from hackers, data thieves and spammers. Here’s how it all works in the screenshot below:
Owing to the enhanced security features that the cloud solutions provide, several B2B companies opt for it. The cloud also has distinct firewalls, Content Distribution Network (CDN) and other monitoring tools to ensure maximum protection to your data and have a peace of mind.
Scalability is an important consideration, all platforms can scale, but each will have different pricing plans and increased functionality that comes with scaling. You need to think about things long-term, choose a platform that won’t charge outrageous fees for scalability upgrades. For instance, the platform you choose needs to be able to integrate with useful management systems such as Salesforce CRM, and RSA archer.
Starting out any new business can be challenging, it takes time, effort and money. It’s important to take your time and ensure that you are fully prepared to choose an eCommerce platform. To speed up the process and ensure quality results, it’s recommended you hire a specialist developer.
CodeClouds is a leading development company that specializes in a range of eCommerce platforms. Whether it’s hiring Shopify experts, Magento, WordPress, BigCommerce developers or even a completely custom store, they are a recommended choice.
We hope this article helped you to pinpoint everything you need to check before choosing an eCommerce platform. Remember, taking the time to make the right decision is a lot more cost-effective than having to change platforms later on.