Congratulations! You have started your own business and now are looking to offer this wonderful new product online to customers.  However, there is one problem… you don’t have a store on your website! Fear not friends, we’re about to break down what an eCommerce platform is and how to select the right one for your business’ website.

What is an eCommerce Platform?

An eCommerce platform is where consumers can shop, build a cart and check out using the internet. It sounds simple enough, but there is much to consider. To compete with other businesses today, having an online presence is necessary. Offering an eCommerce shopping experience allows for your customers to easily access your products. Before you dive deep into the world of website management, though, there are some essential questions you need to ask.

1). Level of Involvement 

If you would prefer to be very hands on with the development of your website, then that will greatly impact your platform choices and require much more work up front. It can absolutely be done, you need to consider the value of your time and where it should be allocated at the start of your company.

For most people, they would rather hire a team to build and manage the website or choose a simple platform that offers these services at additional cost. If you vet and select a third-party company to handle your website you would have better support, communication, and direction of the website. Some platforms, such as Wix, have a “Hire a Partner” option that connects you to their preferred agencies and freelancers.

2). Budget for Website Development and Maintenance

So, you spent a chunk of change on the build and development of your fabulous website. Now it just runs itself forever for free, right? NOPE! Don’t forget there is maintenance cost, upgrading costs and improvement costs.

With open-source platforms you are responsible for maintenance and upgrades to the website, this might require hiring outside help or paying an employee to manage this.  The way we shop is ever evolving. People are fickle and the next generation is coming of age, budgeting for improvement costs will keep you hip with the kiddos.

3). Level of Security Your eCommerce Website Requires

Whether you are selling scrunchies or supercapacitors protecting your customers privacy, personal information and your earned revenue is important to every business owner. Big companies’ data breaches may make the national news, but 62% of all cyber-attacks target small businesses. Three common ecommerce security threats are hacker fraud, malware, and phishing. Hackers use bots to steal user credentials from websites that have poor security.

Hacker Fraud is when a hacker then takes this information and uses it to make purchases. Malware means “malicious software” and are designed to cause damage to websites, servers, and networks. Phishing is a scam where messages are sent to you appearing to be from an acquaintance or company sharing a link for you to click.

4). The Importance of Mobile Performance to Your Customers

Mobile commerce or m-commerce accounts for 50% of all web traffic, this means more consumers are making purchases through their phone than on a computer. Ensuring that your new company is prepared with a marketing strategy and website designed for mobile devices will give you a competitive edge.

There is app-based m-commerce and web-based m-commerce. App-based means the customer would download an application through a marketplace like Apple Store or Google Play and easily make purchases through the companies app, like Amazon. Web-based m-commerce allows the customer to use any browser to access the companies website.

How to Get Started

Start by looking at the websites of your competitors and analyze what you like and dislike about their eCommerce offerings. Make a list of the elements you would like to incorporate into your own eCommerce site. These might be functional or purely visual. Could be something like gross merchandise volume (GMV), payment options, or security level.

While considering different providers, make a top three hit list of functions you cannot compromise on that will make the decision easier. If they offer what you want, great, if they don’t, thank you, next. Some platforms to consider include Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and Volusion. Take time to consider all options and talk to other entrepreneurs.  Or, simply contact our web development company in St. Louis!