Sellers reach out to me every day and ask, “Which is the best out of the ecommerce platforms?” There is no doubt that choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business is a tough decision. With dozens of options out there, how do you know which one is the right choice for you? Some seem simple, or inexpensive, or popular – all things that may sound appealing to you. But basing your decision solely on one of those aspects – or even two – isn’t likely to result in the best choice.
There are a number of things to consider before diving into the platform pool. This relies on you taking a close look at exactly what is important to you when it comes to your online business. The following are some questions to consider as you narrow down your options.
What Kind of Products Are You Selling?
The type and amount of products you are selling can narrow down your choices of ecommerce platforms. Some platforms are able to handle physical and digital products, while others are only able to accommodate one or the other. Some platforms allow you to list an unlimited number of products, but some charge by the quantity. Some ecommerce platforms will handle inventory tracking and allow for multiple product options (color, size, etc.), while others won’t.
Hosting or Self-Hosting?
There are pros and cons to both hosting your own site, or allowing your ecommerce platform to do so. Hosting yourself with tools like Magento will allow you the most control, but it also means that you will have to maintain the site, provide security for customer data, update software, and fix technical problems – or pay someone else for all of it.
If you choose to allow the platform to host for you, you don’t have to worry about updates, technical support, or site maintenance, it’s all done for you. This includes sites like Shopify and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. However, with hosted platforms you only have limited customization, they can be expensive and they can change the rules at any time.
Ultimately, you have to decide how savvy you are at programming. When you use a hosted platform, it’s as easy as setting up a Facebook page. When you self-host, you have to have knowledge of coding, and you have to do all of the setup on your own, or hire a developer.
Is There Room to Grow?
Hopefully, you are anticipating growth in your ecommerce business. This is something to consider when choosing your ecommerce platform. Selecting the least expensive option that fits your current needs may seem like a good idea, but you really need to consider your future needs as well. What is sufficient for your business today, may not be in six months. You don’t want to end up paying extra fees due to increased business. Look for a scalable platform that is able to grow with your business.
How Are Your Customers Paying?
Not all platforms work with all 3rd party payment processors. So before you decide which ecommerce platform to use, you have to consider how customers pay for your products, and whether your platform of choice uses those methods as well. Customers not having their preferred payment options tends to lead to shopping cart abandonment.
Does It Play Well with Others?
Integration is key for ecommerce platforms. Think about the tools that you are already using to support your ecommerce business. Many ecommerce platforms come with integration options for the managing of your accounting, marketing, customer service, inventory, social media, and reporting. Check to see if the ecommerce platforms you are considering offer integration with your current favorite services.
Will Help Be There When You Need It?
Whether you’re an ecommerce pro or rookie, you will likely need help at some point. Before deciding on a platform, be sure to take a look at what kind of support they will provide when you need assistance. Preferably, you should be able to find support through a number of channels, such as: online help options, support forums, live chat, and support tickets.
Can You Afford It?
Every business decision requires that you consider what it is going to cost, and picking an ecommerce platform is no different. With so many options available, you really have to take a look at all of the features and pricing that each platform offers. You definitely want all of the cool features you can get for your money, but you don’t want to pay for things you are not going to use. It really is a balancing act. If you take the time to identify the features that you really need, and then shop around for the best price, you will make the best decision for your bottom line.
What is the Best Ecommerce Platform for You?
Clearly, when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform for your business, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. But if you consider your answers to the above questions, you should be on your way to making the right decision for your ecommerce business.