The eCommerce industry is alive and booming. So if you are motivated to start selling your products and services online, now is the time to do your research on the various platforms available to you. You have to understand the advantages and disadvantages of certain eCommerce website builders and which offer the design flexibility, marketing features, and additional features you require.
There are so many options to choose from, and if you search for the “best eCommerce platform,” Google will show you 236,000,000 results (0.59 seconds) at the top of the search results page. The best eCommerce platforms, however, have a certain set of features that make them great or not so great.
These are the essential features you should look for when selecting an eCommerce platform. Let’s take a look at them and see which platform boasts all the essentials.
1. Easy to navigate. We have all visited a site that is hard to navigate and know how it can ruin the user experience. For example, you find a pair of headphones you’ve been looking for ages, and they’re on sale. Although the site looks like it was launched in 2002, you keep searching because you need those headphones. But then find yourself going in circles for 20 minutes while trying to get to the checkout. Imagine having your eCommerce platform act like this? You will immediately be frustrated about how to get what seem like simple tasks done in a reasonable period of time. You deserve a quick and painless experience, and your eCommerce platform should make it easy for you to get your work done to build your storefront.
2. Easy to set up. Design is important because it displays and communicates your brand message. Try to build an online store that looks modern, easy to navigate and set up in a way that truly captures the feel of your brand. Does it offer many templates and themes to choose from? Can you customize them easily? Can you do it yourself or will you need to outsource some help? With great templates, you usually don’t have to be a design expert to create an exceptional look that makes a statement.
3. Mobile-friendly. Most people today use their handheld devices to browse and shop online, so the mobile trend is pretty clear. Mobile shopping is the norm now, and global mobile retail revenue is expected to top at $3.56 billion by 2021. Your eCommerce website must be mobile responsive so your customers can easily buy from you on any device.
4. SEO-friendly. Your visitors shouldn’t have a hard time finding your business. When they look for a specific product, your shop should pop out of their search results. To make sure that your online store ranks high in SERP, you need an eCommerce platform that comes with the right SEO features and tools that will help you drive customers to your shop organically.
5. Integrations. The most popular eCommerce platforms come with a wide range of mobile app integrations you can choose from. Some of them are designed to help a business grow while many of them can be just convenient perks. Does it integrate with Facebook and Instagram to help with your social media marketing efforts? Will it run properly with your email marketing and CRM sales platform?
6. Online payment options. Your customers need to pay for the products or services they buy from your online business. Therefore, your eCommerce store has to support the most popular third-party payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, and Square. If you plan to conquer the global market, these systems should support different currencies, as well.
7. Analytics. Monitoring your store’s performance is important because you need to know where it performs best and where you could improve. It should present data on crucial things (such as orders, sales, online store sessions, conversion rates, cart abandonment rates, payment methods, most popular products, etc.) in an easy understandable format.
8. Security. Cybercrime is also on the rise, and people are wary of unsecured websites. Pay attention to the level of security of your platform and whether it has built-in PCI compliance and supports HTTPS and SSL for a safe checkout.
10. Scalability. When it comes to scalability, Shopify does a great job. If you plan scaling up in the future, you can choose to upgrade to a higher plan or Shopify Plus (which is designed for large enterprises). Also, Shopify offers a few themes for large product portfolios that you can choose from. By upgrading to Shopify Plus (starting at $2,000 per month) you can get many additional features and save a lot on transaction costs. Other platforms scale too, so look at the costs of business expansion when you evaluate your platform.
In the end, you should pay attention to the price plans and value for money. Some eCommerce platforms come with standard monthly fees, some charge per transaction, others offer flat rates, and some come with additional costs related to app subscriptions. Before you choose a platform, do your homework to identify the pros and cons of each eCommerce solution you are considering. Conduct an eCommerce platform comparison to compare everything from marketing tools and sales features to content management and other platform options.
Whether you shop online often or seldomly, chance are, you have found yourself on a Shopify powered website.
Shopify is a SaaS eCommerce platform that lets online store owners create and run their eCommerce business after paying a monthly fee to use it. It is designed to cater to both small and large businesses and is available in several different plans.
Setting up your online shop with Shopify is very easy because you receive a thorough step-by-step guide on everything you need to build an online store, from adding a domain to customizing themes to adding product pages and setting up shipping options and shipping rates. You can manage both your online and bricks-and-mortar inventory from a central dashboard that is available on mobile and desktop. It comes with a POS system as well. It is SEO-friendly and allows for content optimization, ensuring your online store is search engine optimized. You can also integrate more than 2,500 apps (some free and some paid). You will also get a mobile-friendly website that will enable customers to make purchases from their smartphones.
Shopify comes with analytics and reports features that provide key metrics, from average order values to conversion rate percentages to total sales. Signing up for a standard Shopify plan will get you access to the Finances Reports and Overview dashboard. If you need more detailed reports, you will have to upgrade to Shopify Advanced or Shopify Plus.
The Shopify platform is easy-to-navigate and very user-friendly. Users get instant upgrades, unlimited bandwidth, and other bonuses that will keep their shoppers engaged. It is PCI compliant and includes a 256-bit SSL certificate, so in terms of security, you have your peace of mind. In case you have a question or need help, you have access to phone support, email support, and live chat support around the clock. Your shoppers will have many payment options to choose from (even cryptocurrency).
Last but not least, Shopify users have the benefit of using Shopify Payments – a native service that allows you to instantly start accepting payments. In other words, the service cuts out the middleman, removes extra transaction fees, and offers seamless integration. You can still let your buyers pay through other gateways since using Shopify Payments is not exclusive.
Besides the products and services that you offer, the success of your eCommerce site is also determined by the functionality of your site. The tools your eCommerce platform offers you, as a business owner, should enable you to manage your online store and handle your business and administrative tasks effectively. Before choosing an eCommerce website builder, think about the website features you need. Also consider flexibility and scalability and if the platform you choose will be able to manage your growth in the future.
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