Choosing an e-commerce platform is one of the most important decisions that any business will make, particularly if they intend for their online store to be a major part of their operations. But selecting the right one can often be a daunting prospect for a variety of reasons. The long-term prospects of the business, the feature set required by your company and contained within the potential software selection, and of course price; these are all factors which come into consideration.
So here are some areas that you might wish to ponder before making an e-commerce platform decision.
Most businesses have some hope of growing in the future. Even the most humble small business ultimately intends to make progress and grow in size as the years go by. This poses questions with regard to e-commerce software, as the package that you choose to assist with your business will often need to grow with it.
All companies by the very nature want to attract more traffic, more consumers and ultimately more money. But as you businessperson grows in size and becomes more successful, so it will encounter significant challenges. Greater numbers of customers places increasing demands on your online store and the software used to render it. If you select a platform which is ill-suited and inappropriate for your needs, you can be certain that slow speeds, responsiveness and even crashing will result. This is a sure-fire way to discourage your customers and eventually send them elsewhere.
Thus, scalable solutions should be considered preferable, especially if you have high hopes for your business in the short to medium-term future.
It goes without saying that money is always a major consideration in any business decision, and deciding on an e-commerce platform is no exception. It can also be a particularly insoluble one, given that there are already such a huge and diverse range of platforms available. Each software package related to e-commerce is sold and promoted by pushing different functionality and features sets, and pricing structure related to them can often be completely different.
While any business that is serious about developing an absorbing e-commerce platform wants as many high-quality features as possible, this obviously has to be balanced against physical considerations. How much do those bells and whistles affect your bottom line? It is also particularly important to consider and establish clearly whether or not the e-commerce solution that you’re opting for charges transaction fees. This can really eat into your bottom line.
It’s not enough for you to have a fully functional online store; you want to stand out from the crowd. Thus, the design of your e-commerce store is of great importance and you must take this into consideration when selecting your e-commerce package. Creating an effective image and branding for your store can make all the difference in terms of attracting customers.
Before making a decision about which e-commerce platform to use, it is important to take this aspect into consideration. You may think that you have found the perfect piece of software which delivers the functionality that you require out an attractive price. But if it really delivers cookie cutter e-commerce stores then it may turn out to be a poor investment in the long term.
Aside from pricing, this is probably the most important aspect of any e-commerce platform. There is no point in developing a beautiful, feature-packed store if when it is released into the public domain people cannot use it satisfactorily. No-one wants to jump through hoops to complete their purchases, and you have to bear in mind that many of the people you’re looking to sell to may not have the greatest level of IT proficiency.
So it’s essential to choose an e-commerce platform which can deliver user-friendly content. Actually working out which package will best suit your needs in this regard can be a tricky prospect; after all, it’s not always possible to try before you buy. However, any free trials that are offered can be potential godsends, so it might be worth taking up such offerings before making a decision.
This can potentially be quite time-consuming, though. So another useful source of information is feedback from existing customers. One of the great assets of the Internet is the fact that such a wide variety of customer-related information is available. It pays to make the most of it if you want to make the right decision for your company regarding e-commerce software.
The next consideration of particular importance is whether or not the e-commerce platform in question delivers the sort of functionality that you’re online store will require. This has to be balanced against cost, of course, but there are a variety of features available in e-commerce software which can make your online store more intuitive and ultimately more profitable.
Features that help you drive conversion, such as suggested products, behavioural discounts, and such like, are extremely important. Ease-of-use for your company must also be considered a major asset. And analytics figures along with extensive monitoring of your online store must be considered an absolute necessity.
Security is an absolutely critical issue. Your customers are entrusting you with their most treasured information; financial details. So the importance of keeping data safe and secure all times cannot possibly be overstated. You need to ensure that the software you select features compliance with consumer protection programs, and diligently researching the security credentials of your chosen software should be considered essential.
Finally, infrastructure must be viewed as one of, if not the most, critical aspect of an e-commerce set-up. It cannot be emphasized enough that if an e-commerce website is built with inadequate infrastructure then the content related to it will be irrelevant. E-commerce can be extremely demanding for websites owing to the number of users who login to the site. Customer support, logistics, plus a raft of customers can all be logged in at the same time, and this can cause things to grind to a halt pretty quickly if your e-commerce site is not optimized satisfactorily.
Traffic can also grow exponentially over time, and the e-commerce solution selected must be able to grow with this rising demand. If the hosting provider suffers from significant downtime, or if an e-commerce platform is hosted on a shared basis and MySQL is not optimized correctly then the problems will certainly result. Downtime can cost sales, and even more crucially, reputation. Thus, ensuring the right infrastructure is in place if probably literally the difference between success and failure.
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