Opening an online store gives you access to the global marketplace. If you are able to grow a successful business, you can potentially reach millions of customers, which is very exciting for entrepreneurs with lots of ambition. However, before you can reach such heady heights of success, you need to actually build a functional online store to showcase your products.
So what are your options?
Using an e-commerce platform is appealing to many people because you don’t need any coding knowledge. Popular e-commerce platforms provide a drag and drop interface where you can personalize your website and add or remove features to suit your personal requirements.
If you are just starting out, a pre-built e-commerce platform is the fastest way to get your online store up and running. You could hire a web developer to create a bespoke website, but this will take time and money, which many entrepreneurs don’t have.
How Experienced Are You?
Some e-commerce platforms are easier to use than others. Shopify is one of the more popular platforms for newbies because it is easy to use, but check out Shopify reviews if you want to know exactly what it offers. Magento is another well-known e-commerce platform, but this is harder to work with if you need to modify your theme. Other options include Bluehost and WordPress.
What Are You Selling?
When choosing an e-commerce platform, consider how many products you intend on selling. If you don’t have a huge inventory, you should be fine with a basic starter package, but if you anticipate expanding your inventory fairly quickly, look for a hosted platform that will allow you to upgrade to a larger server with the minimum of fuss.
PayPal is the most popular payment processor for online stores, but it is not necessarily the best one for larger businesses. If you are just starting out, PayPal is great. It is easy to use, secure, and people are familiar with the way PayPal works, so nobody will be put off paying for an item via PayPal. However, if your business grows fairly rapidly, you could find that you run into problems. It is wise to look at other third party payment processers and merchant accounts if you anticipate rapid growth, but check whether your preferred e-commerce platform supports this.
Cost of the Service
Cost is very important, so look for a platform that suits your budget. Smaller operations will be able to get online for very little, but larger online stores will need to pay more. Don’t forget to factor in extra costs, such as transaction fees and card processing fees. These all add up.
Good customer service is critical to the success of an online store. You need to know someone is there if you run into technical problems or you can’t work out how to set up a particular feature.
The best e-commerce platforms are easy to work with and flexible, so check the options carefully before you make a final decision.