Once you have decided to launch an e-commerce store, your next step is to choose the best e-commerce platform. Even after a brief online search, you will find that there are numerous e-commerce solutions on the market. They all have different features, support options, and customer ratings.
Avoid making a hasty decision about this important part of your online business. Instead, look for the e-commerce platform that best meets both the present and future needs of your company. Your choice can affect your business for many years to come, so take your time making the right decision. To help you decide, here are five tips that will help you choose the best e-commerce platform.
1. Look for Functionality and Ease of Use
You want to find an e-commerce package that combines advanced features with ease of use. After all, what good is a platform if no one knows how to use it? Similarly, you should think about your future plans and make sure that your solution will support them.
Your new e-commerce platform, regardless of its price or capability, should have the ability to import and export data into other formats. In addition, it should make adding and creating content as easy as possible. Failure to consider these vital matters can degrade the customer experience and cost you much in terms of lost sales.
While assessing the functions and simplicity of any e-commerce solution, remember to look for one that has a robust content management system. Such platform will help you speedily update your website without distracting team members from their core responsibilities.
There are more and more customers who use mobile devices to shop and will probably not buy from you if your site is slow or hard to navigate. This is why it is crucial for your platform for online sales to work well on mobile devices. This means that it will load quickly on smartphones and provide an uncluttered interface with easily accessible elements such as buttons.
2. Ensure that Your Payment Gateway is Supported
Practically all online sales require a secure payment gateway. If you already have a gateway, you need to make sure that your e-commerce platform supports it. If you have yet to sign up with a payment processor, now is a good time to think about how you want to get paid.
Every e-commerce package needs to connect with a secure service that allows customers to pay for their orders using a credit card or alternative methods such as Google wallet, Apple Pay or PayPal. You want to get maximum flexibility, which makes a digital solution that connects to a broad range of payment options your best choice.
Some e-commerce platforms offer low transaction fees but have unwieldy interfaces that add unnecessary steps to the checkout process. Ideally, you need to find a healthy balance between cost, security, and simplicity. Doing so will allow you to offer your customers multiple payment options without causing headaches.
Remembering that not every e-commerce package works with every gateway could be one of the most important factors in your decision. If you end up with a store and a payment processor that are incompatible, you might have to spend a lot of time and money creating a viable custom solution.
3. Make Site Security a Priority
The security of e-commerce businesses continues to rank among the top concerns of online shoppers. Although your payment gateway is vital to online security, the software or service that runs your store also plays a major role. Your payment processor should abide by PCI security standards that are designed to enhance confidence in e-commerce experience. Still, you should learn about those best practices and verify that your online store supports them.
Many digital solutions for online stores include enhanced security features and optional packages that help protect your company from fraud and other malicious activity that can affect you and your clients. Even if you want to avoid the added expense of those features now, keep in mind that you might decide to add them later. Choosing an e-commerce product that has such options can, therefore, save you time, money and inconvenience in the future.
4. Consider Your Current and Future Needs
You can improve the performance of every part of your business by considering both future and present needs. Such an approach creates a clear path for growth and maximizes the use of your financial resources. By acquiring an e-commerce platform that is a long-term solution, you insulate your business from the disruptions caused by changing technology.
Focusing on the current needs of your business ensures that you have an online store with adequate capabilities. If you want to have a smooth future operation, however, you should remember that your business will evolve as products, markets, regulations change.
If your company has extended customer lifecycles, you will need to have an e-commerce platform that can track the behavior of every customer over time. This also requires features that help your firm supply personalized engagements which can lead to high levels of satisfaction and loyalty.
Remember that your business will probably change over time, so you need an e-commerce platform that can be easily adapted. Just as you should create a business growth strategy that fits your e-commerce business, you should also choose the e-commerce platform that gives you the flexibility and scalability needed to accommodate new strategies that you might develop in the future.
5. Focus on an Active Support System
As an entrepreneur, you want to focus on developing fantastic products and services that transform the lives of your customers. Moreover, you want an exceptional customer service strategy that builds a solid reputation for your brand. Your e-commerce system can help, if it comes with active support options.
Automated and self-service customer support options minimize the cost of customer service while supplying customers with the rapid and accurate responses that they deserve. The around-the-clock support made possible by a robust e-commerce platform can, in fact, create a major competitive advantage for your company.
What will you do if your online store crashes? Every second your online store is down you lose customers. You need to make sure that both your payment processor and the vendor supplying your e-commerce platform have sufficient people and systems in place to quickly respond to any issues.
Your decision to expand your business online can either fulfill your dreams or give you nightmares. You can use the above tips to guide you as you search for the platform that meets all your present and future needs. By carefully comparing the capabilities, specifications and support options of available packages, you will have the confidence needed to create an outstanding customer experience and build a renowned brand.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.