Ecommerce now generates upwards of $861 billion each year in America alone.
With sales like this, it’s no wonder so many new retailers are jumping on board. Unfortunately, with hundreds of eCommerce platforms to choose from, getting started can be a challenge.
What’s worse is that choosing the wrong one can land you struggling to make sales and constantly dealing with headaches. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you choose the best eCommerce platform for small business so you can see success the first time around.
Follow along to discover the key considerations to keep in mind when choosing your small business eCommerce platform. Plus, discover how the right platform can help you grow your brand and skyrocket success.
Starting up your small business eCommerce store can be a large investment. From product manufacturing to marketing, you’ve got a lot on your plate to price out.
When choosing your eCommerce platform, consider which payment platform will be suitable for your needs and in line with your budget. With so much variance between competitors, you could spend anywhere from $5 per month to $2000. What’s more is that the cost of your payment provider isn’t the only investment.
Before hopping on board the cheapest upfront investment, consider how that platform will make up for their low rates. Your first instinct is likely that they won’t offer as many services or advancements as the more expensive companies. While this may be true, the kickback could be much greater.
Do some investigating into what payment providers your eCommerce platform will use. Pay special attention to what percentage of each sale they keep. This is where your small initial investment could become a massive overhead cost.
It’s also a good idea to prioritize payment providers that your customers already know and trust. Providers such as Paypal are highly respected in the eCommerce world. Beyond this, your customers won’t have any hesitancy when entering their banking details for purchase.
The next step in how to choose an eCommerce platform for small business is to investigate all possible integrations.
Integrations are third-party applications that can be added to your provider platform. The purpose of them is to provide extra tools and development advantages that your basic platform does not.
Now, it’s important that you don’t just opt for the platform with the ‘most’ integrations. This is because their long list of integrations may not be suitable for your business or even useful for your growth. After all, it’s not very beneficial to pay for a service that doesn’t align with your needs.
Some of the top types of integrations to watch for include email marketing, loyalty programs, and, risk prevention, shipping and fulfilment.
All of these options will be incredibly valuable to improve your customer service and simplify your business process. Fortunately, most platforms have a good variety of helpful plug-ins to get you started on web design and basic sales structure. However, you’ll need to determine which third-party apps are right for you and where you can integrate them.
Next on your quest to determine which is the best eCommerce platform is our friend, SEO.
SEO, standing for search engine optimization, is essential for your business to gain organic traffic. In simple terms, this will be the key to generating sales without relying solely on paid advertisements.
A good chunk of SEO techniques such as keyword research and optimized content will be up to you to carry out effectively. However, your provider does have a pretty significant impact on things like site speed and even user experience.
You’ll want to ensure your chosen eCommerce platform is set up to handle everything you’ll be uploading with ease. If you have the option to do a free trial, test out your load speed. Ensure it’s fast enough that it won’t deter your customers from shopping with you.
If your site takes too long to load a product image or your checkout process is long and complicated, your shoppers will simply abort the mission. This will leave you with high bounce-back rates that harm your organic ranking and, of course, impact your overall sales. To keep yourself from dealing with this headache, do your homework before you commit.
It’s also a good idea to look at the available features that are highly rated for customer experience and SEO. Things like a product search bar are appreciated by shoppers but need a little extra optimization for search engines to navigate.
Your own brand’s customer service will be up to you. However, the service you receive from your provider will play a significant role in the level of service you are able to provide.
Let’s say for example that you have an issue with payment or a customer writes you for help. How effectively will your eCommerce platform assist you in resolving the problem?
Unfortunately, many eCommerce platform support lines will leave you hanging for days or even weeks on end. While this may not seem like a big deal initially, your customers will grow tired of waiting for you to resolve issues and move along. What’s worse is when they leave a review when they go.
Your brand’s identity and success will rely heavily on great customer service. With this in mind, you mustn’t shoot yourself in the foot by choosing a provider that makes this harder than necessary. You should be able to rely on quick responses and actionable advice to resolve payment issues, performance problems, and more.
When it comes to protecting your business, top-notch security is a must.
There are a few key security considerations to keep in mind to ensure your eCommerce provider will be safe for both you and your customers.
First is a reliable PCI system. PCI stands for payment card industry. It’s a baseline of standards that credit card companies provide.
The purpose of PCI is to ensure a secure internet shopping experience for both cardholders and merchants alike.
This is an absolute must for any business that intends to accept, transmit, or store any cardholder information. Ensuring you have a reliable PCI system means that even if your site is compromised all card information will be safe and untouched. This is because that information isn’t handled and stored on your platform.
Another key security protocol to investigate is your SSL certificate. SSL stands for secure sockets layer. It’s responsible for providing a secure internet connection. This means no outside parties or hackers can access the information your customers are providing (ie. card data).
This added layer of protection is displayed to your customers in your URL by showing the HTTPS letters before your site address.
If your platform doesn’t have these built-in, ensure you’ll be able to add them on with high-performing security integrations.
Last but certainly not least when it comes to deciding which is the best eCommerce platform is your customization options.
Unless you moonlight as a web designer, adjusting code for your unique online store will be a challenge. If you don’t have room in your budget to hire one of the web designers your eCommerce platform offers, you’ll need to be sure you can do it on your own. To make this possible, you’ll need a platform with highly customizable features.
As we mentioned above, there are a plethora of add-ons for web design that can be used to create a simple drag and drop experience. However, these integrations can only do so much if your platform doesn’t offer much in the way of customization features.
This is another great reason to utilize free trials before committing to any major platform.
You’ll get the chance to play around with their designer and get a feel for how simple (or difficult) it’ll be to add your personal touch to your online store.
While it may be possible to pay a one-time designing fee to your developer, the landscape of online shopping is constantly changing. You’ll want to have the freedom to keep up with the latest trends and customer experience offerings.
This means you’ll want to be able to easily add, edit, and change things around in alignment with your brand’s unique needs. What’s more is that you’ll want to be able to make these changes without harming your SEO, which is easy to do when making changes to your designer’s code.
With this in mind, you’ll either need to continually invest in that developer or ensure your eCommerce platform offers enough user-friendly features to customize yourself (and save money!).
Now that you know what makes up the best eCommerce platform for small business, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. With these key considerations in your pocket, we’re confident you’ll choose the best eCommerce platform.
Still unsure of how to choose an eCommerce platform that is well suited to your needs? Get in touch with us today to learn more about our top recommendations and how we can help you ship orders with confidence.