How to choose the best platform for your ecommerce?
Check out our tips for choosing the best service for your online store.
We recently talked about the main e-commerce trends here in blog and we even talked about if it is still worth having an online store, but we still owed you an article about the main e-commerce platforms for those who wish to sell online.
Don’t worry, your wait is over!
In today’s post, we’ll talk about a few e-commerce platforms and give you tips for choosing the most suitable service to host your store.
What is the importance of having an e-commerce platform?
If you are interested in this post, then we assume that you do not have programming skills to create your own online store, right?
You might even hire a developer but that would mean more investments with no guarantees that your e-commerce would be 100% the way you imagined it.
Therefore, the best option to create your online store is to hire a platform to host your e-commerce.
Below we explain the reasons for choosing a platform.
E-commerce platforms are affordable
Most of the services we recommend have different payment plans according to the needs of each entrepreneur. Prices vary but you can pay up to R$ 29.00 a month or even create your store for free.
E-commerce platforms offer basic features to get you started
What if a customer visits your store and doesn’t find the product she needs due to poor page navigation; or she finds the product but cannot make the purchase with a single click?
These features are so essential to e-commerces that we don’t even stop to think about who is responsible for making it all work.
The advantage of having a platform to host your online store is that you don’t have to worry about technical issues, and you can dedicate more time searching for new products and in the promotion of your blog and social media.
E-commerce platforms have several customization possibilities
By hiring a platform for your e-commerce, you can choose the appearance of your online store and customize it from default layouts. Remember that this choice should not only be based on your personal preferences but also on your audience’s profile.
If you still haven’t defined a buyer persona for your ecommerce, read our full post on the subject.
What should a good e-commerce platform contain?
Do you think that e-commerce platforms are the best option for your business?
Below is a list of the features you should observe before hiring the service. Pay attention to the items that can help improve your user’s buying experience and thus, increase your sales.
Accessible customer support
Before choosing your platform, find out what support channels they offer and the average response time for each demand.
This type of information can be found in groups of e-commerce owners and Consumer Complaint websites such as HissingKitty. Don’t forget to do this market research because you’ll need efficient support when you are facing problems with your online store.
Product search bar
Users can find your store through an ad while searching for a specific product, or get to your website’s homepage through a referral from a friend and posts on social networks.
Whichever the path this consumer takes, the searching process must be intuitive so that he/she can filter products based on his/her interests and understand the options available in your store and thus, make a well-informed purchase.
Products separated into categories
Another feature that facilitates visitors’ navigation is the separation of products into categories.
In the case of a clothing e-commerce, it is much easier for a consumer to find a dress if it is grouped within a specific menu than if she had to look through all items in the store. This situation becomes even worse if the user is buying from a smartphone.
Most people opt to buy online because they can do so without leaving their home, work or while on public transport, thereby saving time in a store and avoiding the dreaded lines to pay for the purchases.
As with physical stores, people don’t have the patience to wait on the internet, so the process of buying on your e-commerce should be automated and simple so that your customer can complete the purchase quickly before he/she becomes distracted and ends up giving up on the product.
The golden tip here is: just ask for contact information if you are dealing with a new customer. In the case of returning customers, keep a record saved to minimize transaction bureaucracy.
Product suggestions based on previous purchases
Not only is this feature useful for delivering a more complete shopping experience for customers, it also helps increase your average e-commerce ticket; in other words, it is a win-win relationship in which the customer wins because he/she can find other items that add value to the product he/she has already purchased and you win because you have the opportunity to make more sales.
In order to be found by new customers, your e-commerce needs to be in the first places of organic searches since 33% of people click on the first page of the list. This means that you need to constantly work on optimization that “shows” search engines that your page content is relevant to the thousands of users who search on a daily basis.
This work will be simpler if your platform already contains the basic SEO tools. In addition to an inviting theme, your online store should have text formatting options, user-friendly URLs, and easy integration with tools such as Google Analytics.
Integration with email marketing tools
Email marketing is still the simplest and cheapest way to nurture relationships with your customers. Therefore, it is important that the e-commerce platform you’ve chosen has easy integration with tools to send bulk email.
You can invite your buyers to register on your page in exchange for receiving news from your store. Another idea that can help boost sales in the long run is to offer discounts for new registrations because these people can be provided quality content until they feel confident enough to buy something in your store.
Responsive design adapts to the different screen sizes of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This requirement is mandatory not only for e-commerce but also for any web page, since it influences directly on the experience of millions of users, who already access the internet through mobile devices.
Multiple payment options
Sometimes the customer really wants to purchase a product but has maxed out his/her credit card limit. The same goes for stores that only allow cash payments. So make sure your buyer has as many payment options as possible so that you avoid losing a conversion by not offering a particular payment method.
What are the types of e-commerce platforms?
Open Source Platform
Open source platforms are open source-code systems, which can have their features and layouts modified according to the needs of the store owner. In this model, there are no licenses or monthly fees, which is good for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have much money to invest. However, you must have programming skills to get the most out of these platforms.
Proprietary platforms, on the other hand, are completely opposite to open source-code systems; in other words, the entrepreneur does not have access to the source code of his/her page and can only customize items permitted by the platform, which are generally the features related to your page’s appearance.
Despite this limitation, this is the best option for inexperienced entrepreneurs because the platform takes care of the entire technical part of your e-commerce while you can focus on more practical issues, such as inventory creation.
SaaS platforms use cloud computing to provide the infrastructure needed to build your online store. In this model, the store, as well as its data, does not belong to the store owner; it is as if you “lease” space in order to make your products available.
Licensed platforms are those where the entrepreneur/company acquires licenses to use the source code developed by other people. This is the best option for companies that have a team with technical knowledge to handle the construction and maintenance of the online store.
If you are reading this text carefully, you already know what a good e-commerce platform should contain, but you should still be in doubt about which service to choose; after all, there are several options available on the market.
To help you, we’ve listed some examples of platforms.
Magento is the most used open source e-commerce platform in the world with over 260,000 published stores. It offers a more robust service than its competitors because it allows customization of all items of your e-commerce, which ensures that no other store will be like yours.
However, it isn’t recommended for entrepreneurs who don’t have technical skills, since it has many features that can be confusing for those who have no experience in creating online stores.
Shopify is a SaaS platform, which is easily customizable for different business goals. It offers customization options for your store, integration with different forms of payment and can also be used to create a store on Facebook. The platform also offers a free trial period, which ideal to find out if the service is suitable for you.
- Gartner is the largest survey institute with analysis in over 200 technology sectors, including e-commerce tools. Every year, they conduct a study on the main tools and list their strengths and weaknesses. Check out the complete file here.
- Another simple way to find out more about an e-commerce platform is by studying their client portfolio. Visit the websites developed from that platform and identify the key features they offer and how they can be used to enhance your buyer’s experience.
We hope this article has helped you choose the best platform for your online store. Would you like to learn more about other tools? Leave your suggestion in our comments!