Whether you’re looking to build a new e-commerce website or redesigning an existing site, there are some things that you should take under consideration when choosing the e-commerce platform you decide to use.
There are literally hundreds of e-commerce platform options, making any transition stressful. I find it helpful to break down the decision into key functionality groups and prioritize based on a company’s individual needs. With that in mind, I’ve broken down the different elements of e-commerce websites below.
Clearly the features that a platform offers should be your number one consideration, however, if you have never chosen a platform, it’s very likely that you may not be familiar with the features you may or may not need. Reflect on each of these features and identify which is most important to your company’s needs.
Obviously accepting payments for the things you will be selling is a big requirement that you probably won’t overlook but it is important to know how and what types of payment you intend to accept. The better platforms out there provide a host different options for integrating the major payment gateways that are available (like PayPal and Authorize.net), while some of the smaller platforms partner with specific payment gateways may make it difficult for you to accept payment options.
Shipping is another feature to consider. Do you know the shipping options that you intend to provide and with what carriers? Do those shippers integrate with your platform or will you have to manage that process manually? Distribution logistics is something that will play an important role in getting your products to your customers, so be sure to address this before you make your e-commerce platform decision.
Inventory management is another vital piece to any e-commerce site. Maybe you currently have a tool for managing your inventory, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it all managed in one place? Many online platforms have an inventory system built in that dynamically updates the quantities available on the website for all products which saves time and increases efficiencies.
After you get your store up and running, you will want to be able to easily track and monitor your progress. Most platforms have some level of reporting built in that allows you to track incoming sales, reviews, inventory, and overall performance. These are all great features to help you keep a high-level view of what is happening with your online store.
Additionally, it would be nice to have the tools built into your platform that would assist with marketing campaigns and handling any taxes that would need to be assessed at the point of sale. Marketing tools allow you to run different types of promotions and provide discount options on products for certain users. Choosing a platform with tools that allow you to configure tax options easily could prevent serious headaches. The trick to choosing the right platform is having a complete understanding of your company’s needs, and finding a platform that checks all the right boxes (as opposed to being stuck to an ill-fitting e-commerce platform).
When starting from scratch, or even reinventing your online store, it is important to think about growth. You want to choose a platform that will be able to accommodate your needs and will scale with your business as it grows. Cutting corners here and not making a plan for potential growth can end up costing a lot more money in the long run. Choosing the right option instead of the cheap option means you won’t have to move to another platform in a year because your current platform isn’t mobile-friendly or doesn’t support inventory tracking.
Make sure to read through the list of features carefully with the future in mind. If you start an online store and it takes off, you need to be able to accommodate the increased traffic and demand.
At Forthea, we work with e-commerce websites of all sizes and we are committed to finding the right solutions for our clients. If your company is looking to expand or create an e-commerce platform, contact us today.