Ordering products online has become the standard for many consumers today, which is why many business owners are now trying to capitalize on this trend by opening their own ecommerce sites. If you are considering opening an ecommerce site and are not sure exactly what to look for, here are the 3 main factors you should consider as you try to find the perfect ecommerce solution for you business.
When making any business decision, cost is always one of the most important factors. When looking around at ecommerce sites, it is easy to get dazzled by all of the features that accompany expensive monthly plans and end up paying more than you should.
This is why you need to create an ecommerce budget. What are your sales goals? Are you hoping to make online selling a significant and long-term part of your business? If your sales goals are high and you are willing to put money down upfront, then a higher-end plan may be a good option. However, if you really have no idea how much you will make or are still unsure whether you want to make online sales a major part of your business, then a lower end plan can be a solid ease-in option to see how things go.
For $ 20-$ 30 per month you can get an ecommerce solution that will get you started. Weebly is a pretty good starter option for the average small business owner, costing $ 25/month. Also, most of the major Ecommerce solutions (Bigcommerce, Shopify, Volusion, etc) have starter plans in the $ 30-$ 40/month range. The benefit to going with a major Ecommerce solution upfront, is that it is generally easy to upgrade plans. If things would happen to take off and you needed the features/support of a premium level option, you could upgrade with little to no hassle.
If you feel having all the features and support available upfront is important for the growth and success of your business, then a premium plan may be your best option. In general, premium plans will cost you around $ 70-$ 150/month.
As mentioned above, the more you are willing to pay the more features you will be able to use and the more customized support you will have.
Here are some basic features that you should look for when selecting an ecommerce solution for you business:
- SEO Friendly
You want to make sure that the ecommerce solution you choose is search engine optimized (SEO). This means that the website has been designed in such a way as to encourage search traffic from sites such as Google, Bing, etc.
- Compatibility with A Variety of Payment Gateways
Online payments are almost always made with a credit card, unless customers pay through Paypal. If you have a credit-card processing service you already use for your physical storefront (Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net etc), you probably want to find an ecommerce solution that supports that payment processor. Then you can conduct all your transactions through one service.
- Good Customer Support
Although premium plans offer customized support, you want to go with a company that has a reputation for good customer support in general. This is especially true if you are technologically challenged in any way. A good way to get a general feel for an ecommerce provider’s level of customer service, is to do a quick google search.
There are also advanced features that specific businesses may find very helpful. Before you select an ecommerce solution, be sure to check out their feature’s page to see what all they offer at what price-points. Then select the one that has the basic features you need at the cheapest cost.
Ease-of-Setup and Quality of Templates/Themes
The other major aspect to consider when selecting an ecommerce solution, is how easy your site is to setup and how good it looks when you are done.
Most of the major ecommerce solutions have drag-and-drop website builders. Although they are similar in some ways, some are easier to use than others. The best thing to do, is to take advantage of free-trial offers. Most eccomerce platforms have a 14-15 day free-trial period (no Credit Card required) which allows you to build a website and see how everything looks and works. Pick 2-3 of your top choices, use their free trial, and see which is easiest for you to setup.
Ease-of-Setup needs to be balanced with how good a site actually looks when you are done. Most ecommerce solutions have a variety of free themes/templates to choose from. If you shop around a bit, you should be able to find a free theme/template to fit your needs.