Ecommerce is becoming more and more important by the day. Online sales had already been growing rapidly, and the recent Coronavirus situation has only accelerated that trend. US retailers’ online year over year revenue is up 68% as of mid-April, signaling a new era of online shopping that no one could have imagined earlier this year.
Merchants with minimal ecommerce support are now tasked with the challenge of selecting an ecommerce platform that will allow them to stay ahead of these changing shopping behaviors. With so many platforms out there, with their own pros and cons, we thought it may be helpful to provide a few tips companies should consider when choosing an ecommerce platform.
Determine all of the costs involved.
The first thing any company needs to consider when looking for an ecommerce platform is the price. All platforms have some sort of cost associated with them, whether that be a monthly service fee, a yearly price, or pricing based on transactions or server storage. While some ecommerce platforms may cost less, they may not support all of the functions that your business needs. Additional costs for plug-ins, apps, and other integrations may also come up, so it’s important to spend a significant amount of time calculating everything that you’ll need to properly serve your customers. A platform is an important investment into your business and a decision that should not be taken lightly.
On-Premise vs Cloud Hosting
Ecommerce platforms are hosted in one of two ways, on-premise or in the cloud. Each of these solutions have their own pros and cons. On-premise platforms, like Magento’s enterprise solution, are typically licensed yearly and require merchants to find their own hosting provider. These platforms are great for complex businesses with a lot of customizations and configurations since they are open-source and almost any functionality can be coded into the system with the right development team. However, costs such as version upgrades and server space to maintain on-premise solutions can grow rather quickly.
SaaS solutions like BigCommerce and Shopify are hosted in the cloud and your costs for server space are all rolled into your monthly fee, which is priced on a sliding scale based on your company’s size, transactions, or SKUs. This option is great for growing companies since you only pay for what you need and you can scale up at any time. Many cloud-hosted platforms also come with PCI-Compliance and user-friendly themes for easy set-up. However, not everything can be done out of the box, and your company may still need development support for this solution.
No matter what you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business needs and long term budget.
Whether you are just starting a company or already have an established brick-and-mortar store, you will likely have integrations that need to be supported by your platform. Most ecommerce platforms have an online marketplace of tools for email marketing, tax, shipping, rewards, and reviews that can be seamlessly integrated into your store. Consider what tools you are already using, such as product information management software or point of sale systems and research the level of effort to integrate them into your prospective ecommerce platform. If a tool you’re interested in has an app available, development time can be greatly reduced.
According to eMarketer, mobile sales accounted for nearly 40% of all US retail ecommerce sales in 2019. In today’s day and age, mobile-friendliness isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. When selecting an ecommerce platform, consider the mobile user’s experience and how easy it will be for customers to make a purchase on their smartphones. The mobile experience should be the same, or similar to the desktop experience to enable all users to get what they need out of your website.
If all goes well with your ecommerce efforts, your business will grow. When you select an ecommerce platform, you need to make sure that it will be able to grow right along with you. Slow load times and frequent crashes can spell disaster for any company. Your ecommerce platform needs to be able to handle high traffic spikes and other unexpected situations as you grow.
You should also consider the ability to customize the platform as your needs evolve. Will you need a multi-site or multi-tenant option in the future? Will your payment options change? Will you need increased data storage? You should keep all of these future questions in mind when selecting an ecommerce platform.
Choosing the best ecommerce platform for your company is a long process that shouldn’t be rushed. Do thorough research of the entire marketplace and try to stay ahead of all the hype and shiny marketing. At the end of the day, the best ecommerce platform is the one that works for you and your unique situation. If you need help making the right choice for your company, the ecommerce experts at Americaneagle.com are here to help.