eCommerce has perhaps been one of the greatest developments for entrepreneurs in the history of business. The liberating power of the Internet has allowed anyone to take off and start their own career, with no barriers to entry. Everyone from Amazon to the stay-at-home moms selling handmade jewelry from their living room is a part of the eCommerce revolution.
Here’s a list of considerations for anyone picking an eCommerce platform:
Obviously, you want to avoid as much overhead as possible in transactions. Most eCommerce sites have monthly fees, sign-up fees, or per-sales processing fees. While you should comparison-shop and keep the bottom line in mind, don’t let a rock-bottom budget be your only consideration. Sometimes, “you get what you pay for” is a wise phrase to keep in mind here.
Compatibility and Integration
Technology is a large and complex field lately, with rapid changes happening yearly. It’s hard to find an eCommerce platform that works with everything. Here are just some of the considerations you should have here:
• Do they take third-party vendor payments (e.g. PayPal, Square, etc.)?
• Does their platform integrate with accounting software (e.g. QuickBooks) on your end?
• Does it integrate with marketing tools, such as email, blogging, or social media?
• Is there shipping support? Perhaps with options for all the major carriers?
• What plug-ins are available? Perhaps you’ll want to start a loyalty program, provide for customer feedback, or have technical support chat later?
By “visibility” we’re talking about good SEO practices so that your product comes up when customers search. It’s also beneficial to pick a major platform since if you’ve never heard of it, chances are your customers haven’t either.
This is the flip-side of compatibility, being sure your online shop is available to customers no matter what they’re using to visit. At the least, your eCommerce platform should work equally smoothly on phone and tablet mobile, on laptop and desktop computer, and on-screen sizes of any dimension. It should be usable from any major web browser on the three major operating systems of Microsoft, Apple, and Linux. An eCommerce platform that blocks people based on their device is one that’s chasing away your customers.
Remember that you are also the customer. An eCommerce platform is like a mediator between the seller and buyer, so they need to be able to resolve issues from either end. Moderating disputes and resolving errors are a fact of life in eCommerce, so you’re better off having the resources to handle these issues when they come up.
Security in eCommerce has to protect both seller and buyer. This means not only your merchandise and money but the customer’s private and sensitive data as well. This is easy to research: Check the company’s record and look for news stories about them going back a few years. Have they been the target of a hacker attack that leaked customer data? Do sellers complain about poor security? Has the site avoided “man in the middle” attacks that diverted shipments or payments?
Hopefully, if you’ve picked a platform that is a success for you, you can count on your growth as your business expands. Most eCommerce platforms are pretty solid here for most small proprietors, but you should at least check out how big your virtual business can grow before the platform starts to cramp your operation.
Good luck out there, and we hope to see you when we’re shopping!