Today, in the era of universal access to the network and information, the barrier to entering the online world is becoming smaller and smaller. Although this information may seem optimistic to us, we should also bear in mind the consequences of this situation. One of the most important of these is an increase in competitiveness. On the market, even in the e-commerce sector, more and more players are appearing. How to breakthrough in this crowd and run a profitable online store? Start by choosing the optimal e-commerce platform for your business.
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E-commerce sector – what do we know about it?
The value of the e-commerce sector is currently estimated at nearly USD 2.3 trillion and is expected to double by the end of 2020. Research also shows that 67% of Millenials prefer to shop online than in stationary stores. They spend an average of 6 hours a week in this way. That's a lot, isn't it? As this generation grows older and wealthier, this pattern of behaviour is likely to become even stronger.
So, if you've decided to be part of the industry, then it's crucial to choose an e-commerce platform that will give you the most significant piece of cake possible. It would be best if you remembered that the engine on which our online store will operate could not be considered only in the context of our current needs and opportunities, but also the prospects. Choosing the best e-commerce platform is not as simple as it seems. In fact, this is one of the most important decisions to be taken at a very early stage of the journey through the world of e-commerce.
In this article, you will learn how to choose the best e-commerce platform – what factors and conditions to pay special attention to and what to remember.
What questions should I ask before choosing an e-commerce platform?
Before choosing an e-commerce platform, prepare a business plan. The following questions will help you:
Planned growth: how fast can your company grow?
Expected running costs: consider what charges you will incur not only in the context of building an e-commerce platform but also its maintenance and development.
Employee resources: consider whether you have an e-commerce specialist in your team or plan to employ one soon.
Planned assortment: determine if you need specific functionalities and solutions in an online store.
Sales market: decide whether your online store will offer products only in your country or abroad?
Customer involvement: what are your plans for building communication and engagement around your brand? How will customers reach your e-shop? What is essential for them too?
Short and long-term goals: what goals do you set yourself as an entrepreneur and owner of e-commerce?
It would help if you remembered that most e-commerce platforms offer similar solutions, and the differences are in the details – the ability to adapt individual modules to your needs, the introduction of multiple payment options, the ability to optimise the website, quick help of the service department or extensive development opportunities and integration with other tools. Thanks to such aspects, customer involvement and generating profits will become completely real.
So, what should we pay attention to when choosing an e-commerce platform?
1. Adjust your e-commerce platform choice to your business goals
If you are already active in the network and your business is focused on the service sector, then setting up an online store can only be considered in the context of an add-on, the expansion of existing sales channels. If, however, the main goal of your business is sales, then surely the choice of e-commerce platform should be treated as the basis of your business and think carefully about its decision.
2. Identify your financial resources
This aspect is crucial, especially for newcomers. The possibility of using ready-made solutions, based on modules, available in subscription systems will undoubtedly be helpful here. Then we have a vast opportunity of scaling our business online. Of course, this principle does not apply to everyone. Equally important are the issues of integration with accounting, CRM or sales systems, the performance of the platform with a large number of transactions or the ease of introducing improvements and updates. All these aspects translate into the profits of the online store.
3. Choose the type of platform
In simple terms, the platforms dedicated to the creation of online stores can be divided into three types:
SaaS – in this model, platforms such as IAI-Shop, Shopify or Sky-Shop operate. Their advantage is cloud availability, and the use of the platform is charged a subscription fee. Relatively low implementation cost and fast market entry time are the main advantages of this type of solutions. The disadvantage, on the other hand, is the limitations in the development possibilities.
Open-Source – examples include Magento, Prestashop or Woocommerce. Such platforms are characterised by excellent availability and scalability of systems. We can edit the code and use many ready-made modules. In their case, an important issue is to choose a well-functioning hosting and the availability of a team of specialists who are familiar with the specificity of the platform.
Dedicated – platforms are created from scratch for a given brand. They provide practically unlimited possibilities of introducing functionalities, and their level of security is much higher (if we take care of it). The disadvantages of these solutions are higher implementation costs, time consumption and attachment to one implementation company.
We must remember that the life span of e-commerce platforms is about 3-5 years. During this time, we can get to know the preferences of our customers even better and correlate them with business goals. Then we will know whether the current solution is sufficient or whether we should migrate to a more advanced platform.
4. Explore the possibilities of integrating the platform with other systems
An important issue that should also be taken into account when choosing an e-commerce platform is the possibility of integration with other systems. Think about what features you will need. Integration with Allegro and Amazon or maybe you are planning to implement a loyalty program and marketing automation? For example, the system of product recommendations and marketing automation from QuarticOn is integrated with the Shopify platform. Thanks to this, all online stores operating on this platform can increase sales in the e-commerce industry by an average of 15% using automated product recommendations or increase the average value of orders placed by up to 13%.
5. Verify further development opportunities and supplier support
Consumer behaviour changes over time. Therefore, you have to make sure that your chosen e-commerce platform will be continuously adapted to their needs and, if necessary, make changes to it or new functionalities, you will not encounter a problem that cannot be jumped over. In addition to a look at the development and functioning, the choice of e-commerce platform should also take into account the experience and opinions on the software provider, and in the case of dedicated solutions – verify the existing implementations of the vendor. Take the time to analyse case studies, reviews and customer opinions to see if the provider of your chosen e-commerce platform is a reliable business partner.
We hope that the information presented in this article will help you choose the right e-commerce platform for your e-shop. Indeed, the potential of Internet sales is enormous – so it is worth to take up space in the network for your brand quickly.