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Starting an online business is not as easy as it sounds. While it certainly works for some, it is not for everyone. From conceiving the business idea to putting the idea into motion, you will need a solid understanding of how online shops operate, which brings us to the most crucial part of the process—choosing the right platform.
There are plenty of e-commerce platforms out there that you’d be spoilt for choice. However, you will need one that will complement your business model, the products or services you will be selling, and the potential customers you are targeting. Before we proceed to get to know some of the e-commerce platforms to consider, let’s first find out what an e-commerce platform is and how it can benefit your online business.
What Is an E-commerce Platform?
In a nutshell, an e-commerce platform refers to the software application that will allow you to create, host, and operate online shops. It is an integral part of any online business as it is necessary to integrate the front-end and back-end operations.
In choosing one, you must consider the ease with which your customers can go through the online shopping activity and how it efficiently integrates with the processes happening behind the scenes, including the mode of payment, delivery options, and stock management.
So how do you choose the best platform for your online store? Keep these five things in mind.
Selling online is as much about the customer experience as it is about finding the right products. You want to make the whole shopping process as simple, easy, and seamless as possible for your customers. It starts from the moment your customers visit your site and encounter your landing page to the crucial point of checking out and receiving the products.
Not only do you need to ensure that the store looks aesthetically pleasing and thereby making it appealing to their senses, but you also need to consider the user interface and available features. How easy is it to navigate from the shop to the checkout page? What features are available for customization? The latter is vital to customize your customers’ shopping experience and remain consistent with your branding.
You want to present your products in the best way possible, and this goal is not only confined to adjusting the look and feel of your online shop. It is also essential to ensure that your products are accompanied by clear and correct information. This includes the product availability, product description, and pricing.
You can do this by setting up a smooth and accurate online catalog, one that allows you to manage your stocks and conduct inventory when needed. It is best if this system is automated, meaning that whenever someone buys your product, the catalog will be automatically updated to maintain accurate information at all times.
If you want to effectively manage your products, you also need a function that allows you to map products into categories. This will help you achieve an organized hierarchy, making it easier for your customers to navigate and search the products they need.
A shopping experience can only be truly successful after the customer has paid for the product. This means a sale has taken place. Online shops need to be inclusive of as many payment methods as possible to give customers the option that will suit their needs. You should be able to accept credit or debit cards and other payment methods like PayPal. The platform you will choose has to be quite flexible when it comes to the payment process.
You should also confirm whether your chosen platform is compliant to the Payment Card Industry. This will make sure that the site is secure for something as sensitive as a payment process. Moreover, it is a must to find out the processing fees that sales transactions might incur so you can add them to your total operating costs.
Online users are not confined to one platform nowadays. The convenience and ease of access mean that they can hop from one site into another. While it can be pretty daunting to deal with different channels, choosing a great platform that will let you manage everything from one place is so important. There is what they call a multi-channel marketplace extension that will allow you to do just that.
At the very least, you should be able to integrate your e-commerce platform with other channels like Facebook and Instagram. Doing so can let you enjoy the e-commerce features of such platforms, such as displaying your products in a collection and running ads for them or tagging products on your Instagram post.
You must combine your sales strategy with solid marketing tactics geared toward e-commerce businesses when you sell products online. For example, boosting your SEO ranking can do wonders to drive traffic to your site and increase the likelihood of sales. Your e-commerce platform should allow you to own your custom domain name and provide your customers a chance to leave a review. Some platforms let you edit headers, product URLs, page titles, and more for SEO.
Reviews, after all, are critical if you want to rank higher on the search engine results page. Customers tend to do research first before buying a particular product. They especially check reviews on a specific product or brand to help them weigh their options. Some e-commerce platforms even allow you to run a blog which can greatly help engage your customers.
If you are running Google ads, you will want your products to have good meta descriptions to quickly grab the eyes of potential customers when they look up certain products.
Ultimately, the choice of the best online store platform lies in you. You should be able to examine the features they are offering and determine whether they suit your needs. Keeping these five considerations in mind will help you research properly and weigh your options. You should not hesitate to compare features and even get in touch with a sales representative to know what you are getting into before you make a final decision.