How to choose the best platform to create an online store
With the multiplicity of options, choosing the best platform to create your online store and start your journey in the world of e-commerce can be a complex decision. How can it be made simpler? Well, we have created a list of factors that you should consider before making your decision. Before we get into the details, let us just give you an overview of the global e-commerce industry.
What is an e-commerce platform and what is it used for?
It is a software that serves to create your online store. You can develop it on your own, outsource an expert or hire a predesigned solution that provides everything you need to focus on selling and not on the technology needed to sustain your platform.
E-Commerce is the future! In 2018, the global e-commerce retail sales are expected to rise to 2774 billion, according to Statista. For the future, worldwide e-commerce sales are predicted to show 20% growth. With a sustained global growth rate, e-commerce shows no signs of decline anytime soon!
All this translates to millions of opportunities for those who want to start and bet on an accelerated change in the way we buy. If you have already decided to create your online store, you are on the right track. Now, continue making sound decisions.
5 types of e-commerce platforms: Which one suits me best?
Marketplaces and social networks: These are applications within social networks such as the case of Facebook + e-commerce or type of shopping centers on the Internet (in English, marketplaces) such as Mercado Libre.
SaaS Solutions: You pay for using the software as a service. (Jumpseller)
Own development: Someone from your team or an expert programs the platform according to your needs and tastes.
Open source platforms (Open Source): They are developed by experts and serve various types of e-commerce since they are available on the internet for the user to download and mount your store on them. Within this category there are two types:
- Full open source (Prestashop and Magento)
- Open code to install modules within a website that allow selling. The best known worldwide is WooCommerce, the E-commerce module of WordPress.
Licensed platforms: They are created by software companies such as IBM and Oracle and are paid for their use. Because of its high price, it is recommended only for large businesses.
15 questions to ask yourself
What products/services will I sell?
Who will I sell to? What is my niche market?
Is there a marketplace where I can validate first if there is demand for what I offer? Among the most recognized marketplace in the world are:
- OpenBazaar (contact between buyers and sellers, payment with bitcoin)
- Flipkart (marketplace of India)
- Rakuten (marketplace of Japan)
- Alibaba (Asian giant)
- TaoBao and TMall (Chinese versions of eBay and Amazon)
- Amazon (the largest in the USA)
- Mercado Libre (the largest in Latin America)
Can I sell first on social networks?
Where will I sell? (Geographical location)
Do I need internationalization?
In how many languages do I need my store?
Do I have a developer on my team?
If I do not have it, in what language will I need the support of the platform where I sell?
What kind of integrations do I need? For example: electronic invoicing, cross-channel marketing, chatbots, supplier search for dropshipping etc.
What volume of products will I sell?
What level of graphics personalization do I want to have?
What means of payment do I need?
How much can I invest in a start?
How long do you want to have your store ready?
13 key factors that you should consider
Cost: You must calculate the total price of the platform that includes: the projected commission charged by the means of payment, commission for sales charged by the platform and the monthly fee for hosting the platform.
Technical support: It is essential that you choose a platform where you feel comfortable to ask for technical support, ideally where they speak your language. Check what availability they offer you. There are platforms that have 24/7 customer service.
Languages: If you need to sell to different countries, evaluate what possibilities the platform you hire will offer to make your e-commerce available in several languages and what level of facility it offers to translate the content.
Templates: Outside the marketplace where you can not customize but the photos of your products, the graphic design of your store will be the visual magnet of your client. Therefore, I recommend you not to underestimate this aspect and explore what variety of templates (pre-designed themes) you have available. Also, check if you are charged extra for certain designs.
Customization module: Check if the platform you hire offers a level of customization in case you require it. If you have a developer on your team, he can modify the code and personalize the store even more.
Integrated applications: The first recommendation is that you do not get dazzled by the number of integrations they offer, break down what needs you have and check which apps fit with them. Some that stand out for making your life easier are: electronic billing, cross-channel marketing, Facebook App, integrations with popular marketplace such as MercadoLibre and Google Shopping, E-mail marketing and shipping/fulfilment services.
Type of Hosting: There are two options to host your store on the internet: buy your own host or host it on a platform. The first option is recommended if you have a large business and require a high level of customization and control of the software code. The second is recommended if you are starting because usually, the platforms that host several stores have excellent security because their credibility depends on this.
Means of Payment: Having clear the geographical place where you are going to sell, you must make sure that the platform has the best payment gateways for your customers.
Order management and inventory: When you sell considerable volumes of products it is essential that you can keep an inventory in the most orderly and easy to understand manner. Evaluate, then, how is the interface offered by the platform to manage your store.
Handling shipments: The simpler the better. Evaluate the integrations offered by a platform to facilitate the delivery of orders.
Analysis and reports: In e-commerce, a critical success factor is the capacity you have to process information about your users. Not only in relation to sales but to the entire trip of the consumer (customer journey). You can take advantage of this by optimizing your marketing campaigns on different channels.
Usability: This last aspect is key and very personal. Do not hire a platform that you do not understand. If you are starting you should take control of your e-commerce and for this, it is recommended to choose the simplest and most intuitive to use.
Security: With the problems of cybersecurity, it is very important that you make sure you have a platform that provides security guarantees.
Which is better? It depends on what your goals and needs are. Some people feel it is best to start selling in a marketplace or social networks, especially if the product include clothing, accessories or others that can be exploited visually and are easy to market.
When you see that you have to manage large quantities of orders and build a strong brand, it will be time to migrate to a website that provides the service of an e-commerce platform such as Jumpseller. Recognize the current needs according to the stage in which your business is, compare different platforms and choose the one that suits you best!
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Check our the E-commerce Software Reviews by Fit Small Business.