You’ve got the business plan down to the “T,” from financials to the marketing…but what about the actual website?
Your e-commerce platform is the bloodline of your online store. How else would your customers make their purchases? Aside from making sure it caters to your customers’ preferences, you also should take into consideration your own needs. Problems at the back end could develop into issues that eventually affect the growth of your online business.
Whether your store isn’t operating yet or already is, have you already thought about these factors?
What are You Selling?
Some platforms can cater only to either physical objects or digital products while others can handle both. It also pays to know which niche you’re targeting as some sites are designed according to specific products. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify are dedicated to online merchants. Some features included in their package can also cater to businesses selling online courses or digital services.
Will You be Self-hosting?
The number one advantage of self-hosting is the absence of limits to the customization you can do for your store. If you’re skilled at coding and can handle site maintenance on your own, then you’d also have the added benefit of lower costs. This could make scaling easier, depending on your proficiency at programming. Another alternative would be hiring someone to take care of that for you.
Ecommerce sites that offer hosting would take the tech support and other services off your shoulders. You might be sacrificing some of the freedom to customize your store but nowadays, there are third party apps you can install to add customization options depending on your chosen ecommerce platform.
How will You Process Payments?
Be careful not to assume that all ecommerce platforms can integrate your desired payment methods because some aren’t approved. If you’re anticipating your customers to be using credit cards, make sure the platform you choose is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. You could also look into Paypal, which was designed particularly to make online transactions easier. Be certain these processes are not only smooth but secure.
Can It be Integrated to Your Other Tools Easily?
There are certain tools like accounting software, site heat mapping or lead capturing that you may install or add into your website in the future. Ensure as early as now that your e-commerce platform is designed to work seamless with these add-ons for a hassle-free future.
Does It Offer Support?
This goes back to the second question. Will you be self-hosting or opting for paid-hosting? If you’re choosing to go with the latter, what additional services do they offer? Does this include tech support? Are there any other services you might also need such as customer support? Is there a different company you’re eyeing for this or would you like everything to come in one package?
Can You Afford It?
What’s your budget? There are self-hosting software that come for free such as Magento but again, it’s basically a DIY-store kit. Additional features would come at a cost. Knowing what to spend on would be determined by what you prioritize.
Will You have Room to Grow?
It would be troublesome to have to change platforms later on, not to mention risky as it could affect operations. Take a step back and envision how you would picture your store in the future.
Next, compare this to the bells and whistles the current platform (or the one you’re thinking of getting) can provide. When deciding what platform to use, don’t simply look at your current situation but plan ahead for the future.