Choosing the right e-commerce platform

E-commerce 101

Nina Barango

Feb 23, 2022

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided that you want to sell your products/services online. To do that, you’ll need an e-commerce platform (e.g. Shopify, Squarespace, etc). There are a number of user-friendly and affordable website builders available to those that are ready to start their own online store. So, when you’re ready to get to the fun part, it’s time to choose the right platform for your business.

In this guide, we’ll discuss 3 steps to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform.

Step 1: Determine your business needs 

The best e-commerce platform is one that successfully delivers the outcomes and goals that you have set for your business. These goals can be simple things like increasing your revenue, improving customer experience, or entering or creating a new market. Or they could be complex where you have many stakeholders involved that have conflicting objectives.

Step 2: Set a budget

Ecommerce platform costs will vary depending on the business’ size, sales volume, and of course, the solution itself. Some solutions (like Shopify) require monthly subscription fees and in some cases, the provider takes a percentage from your sales. When setting your budget, be sure to consider the “non-obvious costs” that come with implementing a new solution (e.g. transaction fees, design and development costs, etc). 

Step 3: Compare solutions

Now you have a clear understanding of your business needs and you know how much you’re willing to spend, it's now time to weigh your options. There are a number of user-friendly and affordable website builders available to those that are ready to start their own online store. So, here are 5 factors to consider when comparing e-commerce platforms:

  • Customer experience: A key aspect of any business is its customer service. It's important to look for platforms that allow customers to easily access your website as well as make a purchase.

  • Cost: In deciding on an eCommerce platform, a lot of people tend to underestimate the actual costs of running an eCommerce site. While the initial build and development costs are obvious, there are other costs you need to keep in mind and make sure it fits within your budget. 

  • SEO friendliness: If you want your customers to find you when they’re searching for products like yours, it’s highly beneficial to use a platform that allows you to optimize for SEO and have your store rank high in search results. 

  • Analytics: This is important to understand customer behavior and business growth. Ecommerce platforms must have the ability to run and display analytics in a way business owners can understand.

  • Scalability: As a business owner your goal is to ultimately grow your business even if you haven’t figured out all the kinks. So, it’s important to look for a platform that will scale along with your business.

Shopify

If you’re thinking of opening an online store, chances are you’ve heard of Shopify. It’s an all-in-one eCommerce platform designed so that anyone can start an online retail store. Shopify is a great choice since it's affordable, user-friendly — you won't need to struggle with online payment systems or set up an aesthetically pleasing design, and it's built with a specific purpose in mind.

Ideal for: People looking to build a comprehensive online store but need something user-friendly. 

Squarespace

While Squarespace is primarily known as a website building platform and CMS, it can be much more. It has powerful capabilities when it comes to designing your online platform and displaying products. Whether you plan to run a blog that generates profits through affiliate marketing, or you want to run a small business selling homemade candles, there are plenty of tools at your fingertips for designing an e-commerce site with Squarespace.

Ideal for: Small business owners looking for an easy-to-use drag and drop system that can handle a business website, blog, and an online store.

Woocommerce

Woocommerce is easy enough to use, but it’s not as user-friendly as a platform like Shopify. That said, there are a number of plugins that can be added to your Woocommerce store to make it function how you want it to. They also provide a ton of documentation to make your set-up journey easier.

Ideal for: Those looking to build an online store, but who want more customization ability and have a tad bit more technical knowledge.

Conclusion

Finding (then subsequently launching) a new e-commerce solution is a massive undertaking so make sure you answer these 4 questions before you decide on an e-commerce platform for your business:

Growth: How quickly your business is able to grow?

Running costs: This includes the cost of creating your eCommerce platform and ongoing maintenance.

Customer engagement: How will your customers interact with your business?

Objectives: How will this platform help you achieve your business objectives?

Picking the right solution can help you grow your business, improve customer experience, and increase sales. So while choosing the right platform for e-commerce can be challenging, it's totally worth the effort.


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