One important, unavoidable, and sometimes overwhelming step to moving your business online is choosing an ecommerce platform that best suits your needs.
Did you know there were more than 18 million ecommerce users in South Africa in 2020? And the number just keeps on growing! Taking the plunge to launch your ecommerce store will be one of the best decisions you could ever make for your business.
But, let’s face it: these confusing ecommerce terms can get the better of us at times, making the decision process all the more difficult. If this sounds way too familiar, keep reading because we’ve got the answers to all your ecommerce platform questions!
What is an Ecommerce Platform?
An ecommerce platform is essentially software that allows you to transact online. By “transact online”, we’re referring to the whole process from helping you find the products you’re looking for, managing the items in your cart and then securely paying for them. It’s pretty much like the foundation of a house, so it’s super important to choose the right one from the get-go.
There are three main types of ecommerce platforms:
- Software-as-a-service (SaaS): An ecommerce service based on software only.
- Platform-as-a-service (SaaS): An ecommerce service that involves both software and hardware.
- On-premises platform: An ecommerce service hosted locally by a retailer and managed internally.
Now that you know the basics of what an ecommerce platform is used for let’s dive into how you can choose a platform to suit the needs of your business!
6 Factors to Help You Choose
Choosing an ecommerce platform isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Your choice sets the tone for how your online business will operate, so it’s crucial that you take into account the following factors:
Unless you’re a tech boffin and know your way around the front and back ends of ecommerce software, you’re probably going to need some form of technical support. IT issues usually pop up when you least expect and knowing that you have a reliable form of support to turn to will help you nip them in the bud before anyone even notices.
When considering how effective an ecommerce platform’s support network is, look into whether they offer 24/7 support and what their terms and conditions are. Some providers offer several communication methods, such as web chat, email and phone, while others offer just one. The best way to gauge the efficiency of a technical support team is to have a look at reviews from other users. Look out for information about wait times and the quality of communication users experience.
2. Provider expertise and experience
Does the ecommerce platform provider have the expertise and experience to meet your expectations? Have other businesses used their services in your industry?
The provider you choose needs to be capable of dealing with more than just basic development. Their offering needs to align with your business’s present and future needs as it evolves.
Remember that your online business is still in its early stages. Who knows what opportunities lie ahead for you to scale your business! Your online shop could look totally different six months from now as you grow, and when that happens, the provider you choose now must still be able to meet your needs.
Without a scalable ecommerce platform, your business growth will be at risk, and it will be difficult to open yourself up to new opportunities.
There are no two ways about it: every type of software in this day and age needs to be mobile-friendly. Nowadays, people can run businesses, join work meetings and monitor finances from their smartphones. This means that people are now more dependent on their mobile devices than any other type of device.
SEO marketing is a must for all businesses because it makes it easier for search engines to find you and direct quality traffic to your site.
Some of the things to look out for in an SEO-friendly ecommerce platform include the ability to use your own domain name, add your blog to the site and accept reviews from customers. So, if the ecommerce platform you’re considering doesn’t offer any of these features, it’s time to consider another, friends!
Looking for ideas on how to market your online business? Click here for inspo!
Having an online business means that you’ll need to accept remote payments. You need to have strict security measures in place to protect your customers’ payment information and the ecommerce provider you choose is crucial to making this happen.
Before settling on an ecommerce provider, first review their security track record. The goal is to find a secure solution that gets audited regularly to spot and rectify any flaws.
5 of The Best Ecommerce Platforms
Now that you know what to look out for in an ecommerce platform, here are some of the most highly rated and popular platforms among South African businesses:
Want to learn more about e-business in South Africa? Read more here!
Ready to Take the Plunge?
There you have it: everything you need to know about choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business! As daunting as it is, don’t forget to celebrate the fact that you’re already one step closer to your business launch date. One step closer to turning what was once just a dream into a profitable business!