This is a guest post by Samantha Prowell. Samantha is a Business Professional with great interest in entrepreneurship, business strategy, and customer satisfaction. She aims to identify daily work hacks that could increase professional productivity. Samantha currently works as a Contributing Editor at Business-Café where she writes login guides, helping the end user in their customer login process.
Sellers regularly look for better ways to market their businesses so it stands to reason why they would look towards e-commerce platforms to up their marketing strategies. As a business owner, there is no doubt that you will want to choose the platform that suits all your needs. However, with a huge variety of choices out there, how do you find the right one? In light of this, you will want to take into account what each e-commerce platform has to offer.
Not only will this help you to decide which platform to choose but will also give you the best possible marketing tool for your business. It is apparent that each platform will have strengths and weaknesses depending on your website performing needs. Although this may be true, your primary focus should be on how you want an e-commerce platform to promote your business. What do you want from the platform? Once you know the answer, it's time to start searching.
When choosing an e-commerce platform, it is equally important to know the type and quantity of products you are selling. Not only will this narrow down your search but give you a better insight on which platforms will benefit your business. In fact, some platforms accommodate both digital and physical products, while others only can handle one. Some platforms charge you on the number of products listed while others let you list an unlimited amount. You also will find that several e-commerce platforms are capable of inventory tracking with a variety of product description options to add like the color or size, while others don't. By looking at these options, you will be able to determine if the platform can handle the number of products you intend to sell.
Does the platform leave room for business growth? If you're anticipating growth in your business, you should consider this in your research. When selecting a platform, it is important to look at the whole picture. Businesses change as they grow, what is good today may not benefit your operational needs six months from now. Not to mention, the extra cost that may come into play due to increased business. Look closely and choose a platform that is capable of growing with your business.
Today's shopper use search engines to find what they are looking for to buy. In fact, if the e-commerce platform doesn't offer search engine optimization initiatives, your potential customers may find a competitors site and miss yours altogether. Let the platform provider know that you're interested in their SEO strategies they offer. Not only will they tell you about the SEO strategies they provide, but it's a good chance they will tell you with their technology your site will move quickly into the top rankings of the search engines. You can use the Google PageRank to look at their client's sites.
After all, you will want to see for yourself how well the provider works before choosing their platform. If you find that their rankings are lower than a four, you should look elsewhere. Another thing you can try is to look at several customers of the e-commerce provider that you're considering. Then, do a ranking Google or Yahoo search on them. Look closely at where they show up in the search engine.
Another thing that will help you choose the right e-commerce platform is having professional support. No matter what your skills are when comes to an e-commerce platform, at some point you yourself may need help. Not only will you want access to support but be able to contact someone quickly and without difficulty. It is important to check how much support the platform provides and how often. In fact, you should look for platforms that offer a number of channels like:
Integration is vital for e-commerce platforms. You should look for ones that support the programs you are already utilizing in your business. In your search, you will find that several platforms offer integrated options through their account service. Some of these options consist of marketing, inventory, reporting, customer service, and social media. Of course, you will want to make sure the programs they offer are your preferred services.
Making a business decision when money is involved can affect your cash flow but it is not something to worry about. When selecting an e-commerce platform, look at the features and their price. Some features a platform has to offer you may never use. So be sure you are not wasting money on features that are unnecessary for your business. Yes, it may seem right to have all the added features, but it is worthless to your business when you don't utilize them. Always try to look for features that will benefit your business at an affordable price when searching for the best alternative for your business.
It is important to realize that not all platforms have third party payment processors. Therefore, look at how the platform will charge your customers. You should consider how your customers pay for your products now. Then, look to see if the platform you're considering offers the payment plan they prefer. If your current or potential customers don't have their payment option available to them, the customers will not continue their shopping process and leave your platform.
Selling your products online broadens the amount of people who see your site. Not to mention, reaching those individuals who are in other countries as well. Not only is this beneficial to your business but excellent customer service for people that wish to purchase your products. With this said, make sure that the e-commerce platform provides full support for international transactions. The features should include automatic translation of your product description when prompt through a foreign country. It also should have dynamic currency conversion and calculations and be able to integrate with third-party international delivery carriers.
The positive side of hosting the platform yourself is that it gives you total control. Granted, that also means you will need to keep the software updated, fix technical problems, provide security for customer data, and overall maintain the site. The downside is how time-consuming it can be and leaving you less time to do other important tasks for your business. All things considered, you could hire an employee to do it for you, but then you're paying out more money. By choosing a platform that can host it for you, the added worry of the updating and maintaining the site is all up to the experts that control the platform.
Plus, you will not have to hire an extra employee to help maintain the site. This includes marketing places such as eBay and Amazon as well as Shopify. The downside is that you may have limited customization, which can become expensive. They also have the rights to customize the rules at any time. In the end, you will need to decide how much knowledge you have to self-host your platform or hire a developer. Of course, for the short term, you can allow your site to be self-hosted.
To avoid added cost, you should be aware of what is on the provider's platform contract. Before signing any contract to your chosen provider ask questions like:
As you can see, in order to choose the right e-commerce platform you should take the time to look at every aspect of what is offered. For the most part, as long as you have the answers to the above questions, you are half way there to making a profitable business decision. In the long run, you will be glad that you took the extra time to do a little research and have all of your questions answered. As shown above, it can become costly if you choose a platform that doesn't fit your business, so make sure you know all the details you need before making a decision. All things considered, an e-commerce platform will be a profitable marketing tool for your business. So, which e-commerce platform provider will you choose for your successful business?