Choosing an eCommerce platform is a crucial step for your business. It will determine many factors, such as the development period of your website and its pricing.
The layout and navigation that a platform offers can also influence your brand image and sales. It’s because 75% of shoppers judge eCommerce sites based on the design alone, and 88% of customers don’t want to return to sites that have bad UX.
Understanding how important choosing the right platform is and with so many options available, it can be a headache making a final decision.
To help you choose an ideal eCommerce platform for your business, follow these six tips mentioned in this article. We’ll cover the three best platforms to choose from to simplify the process.
1. Know What You Need
Ask yourself several questions:
- What kind of products are you selling, e.g., physical or digital products?
- How many products do you plan to sell per month?
- How much control do you want to have over the platform?
- How flexible do you want the design to be?
- Do you want to integrate it with other platforms, e.g., Facebook?
Those questions can help direct you to the best online selling platform for you.
For example, if you want unlimited products to sell and complete control over the design and integrations, a self-hosted platform, like WooCommerce, can be a great option.
Meanwhile, if you seek a platform that is quick to set up and you have no problem with limited control, a marketplace like Amazon may be more suitable for you.
2. Determine the Scalability Options
Understanding the scalability options is essential when choosing a platform. It helps ensure that the platform can handle increased demands, including sales and traffic, when your business starts growing.
In many hosted platforms and marketplaces, scalability comes with a higher subscription price. Meanwhile, self-hosted platforms can be scalable if you purchase a more extensive hosting service. You can check out here for more details.
3. Check the Design Capabilities
Generally, almost all platforms offer basic design capabilities, like clear navigation menus and responsive design. Their main difference is the level of customizability.
The most customizable option is self-hosted platforms. Here, you’re free to install various plugins and custom templates to make your store unique. For instance, a perfume brand Spongelle creates a quiz to personalize its buyers’ journeys.
Meanwhile, most hosted platforms and marketplaces offer preset layouts. You may need to pay extra to customize your store, like subscribing to a more advanced plan or hiring a developer.
4. Test the Store Functionality
Here is a checklist to follow when testing a platform’s functionality:
- Smart inventory management.
- Various payment options.
- Third-party integration, like blog and email marketing.
- SEO tools and customizable URLs for your pages.
- Built-in eCommerce features, like catalog management, discounts, and analytics.
To compare eCommerce platforms’ functionality, consider reading reviews. Other alternatives are to use a free trial and request a demo.
5. Ensure Its Security
Using eCommerce platforms may come with several risks, like phishing attacks and malware. In the US alone, 5,305 people reported eCommerce fraud within the last three months.
Ensuring the platform’s security helps prevent these problems and protects the sensitive data of the owners and customers. An eCommerce platform should be compliant with security protocols by providing SSL certificates, payment card security standards, and regular backups.
You can find relevant options in the market for SSL security for example, standard SSL (for one domain), wildcard SSL certificate (for subdomains). All these options can cost you lower compare to direct certificate authority’s price.
6. Compare Pricing Between Existing Platforms
After listing what you need and understanding the platforms’ features, consider matching those aspects with your budget.
To help compare pricing, here are estimated total costs in several platforms:
- Free. You can open a marketplace account free of charge. However, the price will increase once you list the products and sell them because most marketplaces have extra fees for listing, transactions, and payment processing.
- $500 to $3,000. This is standard for a WooCommerce setup that contains a theme, some paid plugins, and shared hosting.
- $1,000 to $10,000. For a hosted platform. Yet, the cost depends on your sales and whether you use any third-party services.
The 3 Best Platform Options for Your Business
To help you pick the best platform option for your business, here is a brief list of the pros and cons of available eCommerce platforms:
- Self-hosted platforms. E.g., WooCommerce and Magento. They’re flexible with the customization and functionality options but may need more technical knowledge.
- Hosted platforms. E.g., BigCommerce and a website builder, like Wix. They come with easy scalability and fewer security risks but are limited on third-party integration and custom features.
- Existing marketplaces. E.g., Etsy and Amazon. Such platforms are easy to set up and offer high website traffic. However, they’re not customizable and may cost a lot with additional fees.
The first step in choosing the ideal eCommerce platform is to understand your needs. Then, start researching for essential aspects, like pricing, design capabilities, and functionality.
If you want a customizable platform and have a basic technical background, a self-hosted platform may be your best choice.
Consider choosing a hosted platform or a marketplace if you look for an easy platform to start on and maintain. Yet, keep in mind that they’ll come with fewer customization options and multiple additional fees.