Online business transactions have been increasing over the years. This can be attributed to many reasons but on top of the list is advancement in technology and convenience.
Shoppers can make purchases from the comfort of their homes and have their goods delivered to their doorsteps. According to Statista, about 2 billion people shopped online in the year 2020. This goes on to show how important it is that your business has an online platform so buyers all over the world can conduct business with you.
What are Online store platforms?
Online store platforms are also known as e-commerce platforms. They are sites that allow you to build your business store on them without having to start from scratch. These platforms handle technicalities such as hosting, checkout, PCI compliance, payments, marketing, fraud protection, analytics, among others. Examples are Shopify, WooCommerce, Volusion, Magento, Squares pace, Weebly, Wix, Big Commerce, etc.
There are many online store platforms to choose from which can make the decision a little difficult. Making the best choice involves considering some important factors in order to determine what will work best for your business as this decision will greatly impart the success of your online store. If you’re trying to pick the right platform for your online store in 2021, here are 6 invaluable tips to help you make the best decision.
1. Opt for Mobile-friendly platforms
Statistics show that at least 65% of smartphone users have bought something online using their phones. Majority of customers carry out online purchases on smartphones and not laptops as you may think.
Whichever online store you choose should be mobile friendly as this will be more convenient for the customers. Also, a mobile-friendly platform ranks high on Google which gives the stores a better chance at attracting more traffic and, thus, sales.
2. Security should be a top priority
Cyberattacks on E-commerce platforms have been on the increase. Cybercriminals have targeted these platforms due to the high amount of business transactions that go on there. In order to make payments, customers will have to input their credit card information, bank details and passwords.
Creating an account on these platforms will also require submitting personal identifying information such as full name, home and email addresses, phone number and so on. All these are very sensitive information that can lead to great loss if they fall in the wrong hands. This is why you should go for highly secured platforms so both you and your customers can be rest assured that your data is safe.
3. Compare the costs of the E-commerce platforms
E-commerce platforms come at a cost. Before choosing to build your store on one, consider the costs and how affordable it is to you. The pricing model differs greatly. Platforms usually offer subscription packages billed monthly, annually or bi-annually.
These costs vary from as low as $10 to $200 per month. Some of the platforms such as Weeebly, BigCart and OpenComnerce have free options where you can open a store for free without add-ons. But if you want to go pro which comes with added benefits, you’ll have to pay.
Do well to compare the costs of the platforms alongside the benefits at different price points. This will guarantee that you get the most value for your money whatever price you choose to opt for. It will be unwise to sacrifice the features you need just for a lower price.
4. Consider the flexibility and scalability of the platform for long-term purposes
As time passes and your business grows, there’s a high possibility that you’ll need to expand. The needs of your business are definitely going to change. You’ll have to add more products, process the orders of more customers and so on. If your chosen E-commerce platform is not scalable, it might be challenging to deal with the expansion of your online store.
Trying to adapt a site to such changes can prove to be an herculean task if the store was not developed with flexible online store builders. A scalable and flexible platform will allow you handle expansion without facing uncomfortable limits. The future needs of your business as it expands are difficult to predict. This is the reason many brands use APIs (application programming interface) to customize their stores based on their changing needs. Choose platforms with fast and trusted APIs.
Another thing is it’s best to choose platforms that allow third-party integration. Some features such as email newsletters, payment processor, social media management may not be available on the online platform. The option of third-party integration gives you the choice to integrate features the platform lacks for a better and flexible store.
5. Don’t joke with SEO-friendliness
Your store must be easy to find if its going to generate any traffic at all. It goes without saying that the higher the traffic generated, the greater the chances of conversion and sales. More than 80% of shoppers conduct online searches before making purchases. If the online platform isn’t SEO-friendly, your store won’t be found on search engine result pages. You should be able to create a customized URL with your name and products as this makes your store easier to find.
6. Customer review feature must be present
Online shoppers rely heavily on the reviews of others that have bought a product before making purchase. This is an example of social proof where people depend on the judgment of others before making a decision. Products with good reviews are purchased more while the ones with bad reviews are avoided. It is, therefore, very important that the E-commerce platform you choose for your business has customer review features.
Building an online store is a sure way to take your business to the next level in terms of reach and sales. Using an online platform makes it easy to achieve these goals with going through the stress of building your own site. However, if owning your own business site is the route you wish to take, here are 6 useful in creating the perfect website for your business.