E-commerce industry has witnessed significant growth over the last decade. This is because of the wide reach of the Internet and smartphones. People like to browse online and things coming to them, rather than visiting numerous stores to find required things.
According to State of E-commerce report 2018, the online sales jumped by around 28% year over year, with the majority of the sales driven by fashion and homeware products. Further, the global e-commerce market will reach $4.48 trillion by 2020, from just $2.3 trillion in 2017.
This shows that an opportunity lies for you in the e-commerce industry. If you are looking to start an e-commerce business of your own or looking to upgrade the existing one, then the platform that you choose to build your site should be as powerful as your idea.
You will sell products independently from your own website, but the website relies on third-party e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, etc.
To make the best out of the e-commerce industry, the most crucial step is choosing the right e-commerce platform. Below are few of the key factors you should take care of while making a choice.
Calculate costs wisely
The first step is to calculate all the costs associated with your idea. This includes your budget, cost of e-commerce platform, resources involved and much more. This is important because if you are starting from scratch, you might not be willing to invest much right from the word go.
Go through all the leading e-commerce platforms, and check whether they charge on the monthly or yearly basis, what are additional costs like pay per transactions, bandwidth costs, server storage charges, etc. Also, the cost of the platform varies on the basis of the type of hosting you choose (self-hosting, shared hosting).
All these costs should be checked and calculated wisely before making a decision so that you will understand your business model and cash flow.
The most common mistake people make while making a purchase is do it on the basis of marketing of the brand. Avoid the hype and do your research thoroughly about the platforms you are thinking to consider. Check their websites and go through all the features and functionalities. Clear each of your doubt about the platform by calling up the sales or marketing executives of the brand.
Ask everything to them, including the basic things like editing orders, sending customized emails to customers, making multiple purchases, etc. Also check whether the platform supports plugins for sales, taxes, revenues, and profits; email marketing tools, applications to assist shipping, and more.
Ensure that the platform fulfils all your business requirements. Doing your research and homework is very important because the companies that provide e-commerce platforms do their marketing strategically. You will be reading several positive reviews and testimonials about these platforms over the Internet. But the truth is that these things are there mostly to create the hype.
Should be good for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a key to success for an online business. You might be having awesome products on your online store, providing excellent customer service, but if you are not ranking on search engines like Google and Bing, how will people reach your store?
When people search for products online, it is important for your site to appear in searches, so that they can browse your store and make purchases.
A number of factors on e-commerce sites improve SEO. These factors include adding a blog to the website, using a unique and memorable domain name, optimising content on different pages of the website, integrating sitemap, the ability for customers to write reviews, etc.
Make sure that your e-commerce platform provider offers all these facilities.
Should be mobile-friendly
Research shows that 62% of online purchases in 2018 are made using smartphones. What this means for you is that a lot of users will visit your website from mobile devices. If the website doesn’t work properly on these devices, the users will abandon the site without giving it a second thought.
Choose a platform that allows you to build a mobile-friendly website that can be accessed easily from smartphones and tablets. All the pages should respond properly and without any hassles.
Despite the best practices, things can go wrong with your site at any time. To help you resolve the problems, the vendor should be able to provide you with a 24/7 support. Choose an experienced service provider so that your issues can be resolved easily in lesser time.
Always look for the vendor who provides 24-hour support through email, chat, and phone.
No doubt, you will be putting great efforts to grow your business. With the growth of your business, the platform should also grow, otherwise, you will get stuck with the scalability issues.
To avoid that, confirm that you are choosing a scalable e-commerce platform. When you start the business, you may not want to pay for features and functionalities that you don’t use. But you might need those things when the business grows. Hence, make sure that the service provider allows you to choose things according to the requirements.
Security is perhaps the most significant thing for an online business. Since, e-commerce sites accept confidential information of customers, like contact details, credit card or banking information, it is crucial to protect them.
Install an SSL certificate to your site to avoid ‘not secure’ warning in the website URL bar. This warning can negatively impact your business and its security.
Ask your vendor about the security practices they take care of with the platform. The security services should include an SSL certificate, tools to protect against spam, malware and other malicious activities.
Starting an online store to sell products of your choice can be a daunting process, especially when choosing the e-commerce platform. If you figure out everything your business will need to work along the growth and trends, things can become easier for you.
Vaibhav Shah is the Founder and CEO of Techuz InfoWeb, a top web development company delivering web and mobile app solutions using latest technology stack. Being an engineer, he has the vision to enhance user experience and create competitive products for their clientele.