How to choose the right e-commerce platform for your online business
Navigating your first e-commerce platform is a big step in the evolution of your business or entrepreneurial journey. And having the right platform in place is not only vital to your current success, but also your future success in the ever-growing world of online shopping. As of 2020, South Africa’s online retail market had grown to R30 billion, up an impressive 66% in only two years.
According to Thomas Vollrath, CEO of 1-grid, it’s crucial to have an e-commerce website that works for your business needs, now more than ever. But with so many options available to small business owners, it’s tricky to know how to choose which e-commerce platform is best.
How do e-commerce platforms work?
E-commerce platforms are multi-faceted business websites. They allow business owners to manage their digital storefront, their marketing efforts, sales and back-end operations all through one platform. They come in many shapes and sizes, and offer various features depending on your business needs.
There are a few key factors to consider when deciding what e-commerce website builder you should use.
Understand your business needs
Every business has unique needs and challenges, and not every e-commerce platform is going to offer the perfect solution. If you’re leaning towards the most popular platform on the market because it’s well known, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the right one for you.
While doing your research, carefully look at the features available, the services you will receive and if they match your product and business model. If you need more information, take full advantage of the free trials that are on offer and play around with the platforms to find the right one for you.
Does cost match the value?
The ideal situation is to find a web builder platform to suit both your needs and budget. While this can’t always be achieved 100%, you can match your needs and costs by looking closely at the various packages available. Basic packages will have limits on features, while premium packages may give you far more than you need.
Scrutinise the features included in the packages and choose the one that is going to give you value for your current needs while being affordable.
Simple setup and management
While you’re on the research train, look closely at how simple your website set up and future management will be on the platform you’re looking at. If you’re going to need a crash course on using the platform, your work is not going to be effective or efficient.
Look for the following features:
- User-friendly interface and guides for simple setup.
- Built-in tools for flexibility and growth.
You may not be considering your five- or ten-year growth plan right now, but setting your platform up with growth in mind is key. It doesn’t mean you have to utilise the full extent of your platform’s features, storage capacity or tools right away, but that you choose a platform that gives you the option to do so as and when you need to.
Last but certainly not least, it’s vital to choose an e-commerce platform that gives you easy access to tech support when you need it. You may be a whiz at running a business, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do if your payment process stops working during a busy season, or your products pages or images have broken.
Find a local provider who you are able to contact in various ways, throughout the day or night.
The process all depends on your individual business needs, but remember the following when choosing your ideal e-commerce platform:
- Understand what your business needs.
- Find the balance between value and cost.
- Choose simple setup.
- Keep scalability in mind.
- Don’t compromise on tech support.