Online shops have steadily gained popularity over the years, and in today’s economy, eCommerce has become an essential tool for many businesses. Not only does it offer an alternative to traditional high street stores, but it can also help established businesses expand their reach beyond local shoppers.
The popularity of online shops will no doubt continue to grow, and an eCommerce site can help your business to rise above the competition. But with so many options available, how do you know which platform is the right one for you?
Obviously cost will be a deciding factor, as most platforms have a monthly charge. Just remember that this is an investment into your business, so make sure you choose a platform that gives you exactly what you need and aim to get the best for your budget.
There are several points to consider when choosing your platform, and we’ve put together a list of what we believe to be the most important. When considering each of these points, ask yourself whether it will work for both you and your customers, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the right platform for your business.
Integrations and extensions are great for increasing your business’ appeal to online shoppers and generating a steady flow of custom. First decide what your business needs, and this will determine which functionality is most important for you.
Whether you need to increase traffic or want to give your customers the ultimate user experience and reward them for their loyalty, there will be a tool out there that can help you. Our next article, Get Connected, will feature more information on the various marketing, analytic and customer experience tools that can help you build a successful business.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Generating online traffic is the key to generating sales, and working on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most effective ways to make sure the right people find you first. SEO friendly platforms will offer several features allowing you to add and develop content tailored to your business and its relevant keywords, such as blogs.
Customer reviews are another great method to improve your ranking within Google and other search engines, and they can also help to create a more personalised shopping experience. Creating a connection with online shoppers can be a challenge, so that review feature is especially important for both SEO and building a relationship with customers.
Unfortunately, technology offers no guarantees and things can happen which are beyond our control. This can have a negative impact on both revenue and brand image, which is why it’s also important to take note of what sort of customer service the different platforms offer you.
How and when can you reach them? What support do they give, and for how much? You never know when a server can crash, so be prepared and make sure to ask these questions before deciding on your platform.
The main goal of any eCommerce site is to reach the people who matter most to your business; the customers. Bear in mind that not everyone has access to a computer, and the easiest and most accessible device for online shopping is now our mobile phone or tablet.
These mobile devices offer quick and simple purchasing on the go, so take advantage of this and make sure your online store can be optimised for those smaller screens.
Building a store that people can easily access is only the first step. In order for customers to follow through with their purchases, it’s just as important to consider how they can actually pay.
The main reason we like online shopping is that it’s quick and easy, and without simple payment options, shoppers could abandon their cart at the last minute. Be aware that some platforms don’t connect to third-party vendors like PayPal, so decide what payment options you are happy to use, and make sure that your platform has those options available.
When considering payment, it’s also crucial to consider security, as customers need to be able to trust your website with those all-important personal details. If they don’t trust your site, the likelihood is that they won’t go through with the purchase.
Most platforms do offer some level of security, but double check that your choice supports HTTPS/SSL and is Payment Card Industry compliant. This means that they have officially fulfilled the requirements needed to protect credit card details and prevent any fraud or data breaches.
Everyone wants their business to succeed, but we can never plan to what extent it will grow. At the beginning, certain features may not be of use to you, but it’s always reassuring to know that those upgrade options are available if you need them to help deal with increased demand.
Make note of the potential costs for upgrading any of the features available, and make sure that your site has the ability to grow alongside your business.
Where to start? Try Shopify
There are a number of great platforms out there, and some of the most popular are Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. They all have their pros and cons, but we find Shopify to be the most comprehensive and user-friendly option for those taking their first steps into the world of eCommerce.
Shopify has a simple and clear interface, which means anyone can quickly pick up the ropes and start using it to increase sales. It may not have some of the more complex functions offered by platforms like Magento, but it still offers plenty of great features. They provide ten theme templates for free, and with a 24/7 support line, you know your site will look beautiful and have help readily available right from day one.
Their marketing tools and integrations are just as comprehensive, and Shopify have you covered with several apps to assist with everything from accounting and inventory, to mobile optimisation and blog posts aimed at improving SEO. Although there is a monthly fee for many of these tools, they are designed to save you time and money and expand your reach, so they are well worth the investment.
Although this all sounds great, it does come at a price. But with no hidden costs and packages ranging from $29 a month, you can choose the package that suits your budget. This also means that your store will have the opportunity to grow with your business, adapting to suit your needs.
With so many options available, choosing the right eCommerce platform can be a daunting task. But by thinking ahead and planning what you and your customers will need, you can filter through the options and find the best choice for growing your business online.
Want to learn more about High-Performance eCommerce? Click here to download our complete guide to boost your online sales.