E-Commerce, Choosing the Right Platform for Your Needs.
Simply put, e-commerce is buying and selling goods and services online. E-commerce can look like: Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B), Consumer-to-Business (C2B), or Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C). E-commerce is an answer for businesses that do not have a storefront as well as consumers interested in selling their own goods. With some pretty dynamic platforms to choose from, success can be easy and affordable.
Deciding the right platform/software solution for your e-commerce business is unique to your size, budget, and specific needs. To succeed online, there are several features that your e-commerce business will need.
Essential E-Commerce Features:
- Payment processing. The ability to accept payments online is essential for any e-commerce business. All platforms will offer some payment processing, but check what payment types they take. You may need your own payment processor or merchant account.
- Shipping. Shipping is another vital aspect of e-commerce. Make sure the platform you choose offers shipping integrations that fit your business.
- Inventory management. Keeping track of your inventory is important to ensure you always sell and are well-stocked. Most e-commerce platforms will offer some inventory management, but the level of detail and features will vary from platform to platform.
- Customer management. This can include customer accounts, wishlists, order history, and loyalty. This is important to provide a good customer experience and keep track of your customers’ orders.
- Analytics. Make sure the platform you choose offers detailed analytics so you can track things such as conversion rate, average order value, customer lifetime value, and more.
- Marketing. Marketing is a great way to drive traffic and sales to your store. Ensure your chosen platform offers marketing features such as coupons, abandoned cart emails, and social media integrations.
- Product management. Managing your products is important to ensure accuracy and keep things organized. Ensure the platform offers product variants, inventory management, product reviews, and more features.
- Mobile optimization. Mobile optimization is essential to ensure your store looks good and functions properly on mobile devices. Ensure the platform you choose is responsive and mobile-friendly.
- Security. Security is essential to protect your customers’ data and protect your store from fraud. Ensure your chosen platform offers features such as SSL certificates, password protection, and PCI compliance.
The majority of all e-commerce platforms can accommodate different payment methods, but you do have choices. In this theoretical example, let’s say you have chosen Shopify for your e-commerce platform. Shopify’s standout features were its comprehensive onboarding process, marketing, user-friendly ability to drop-ship, and integration over multiple channels. You have two options for payment providers: Shopify Payments and Stripe. While there are critical differences between the two, it is important to remember that Stripe powers Shopify’s Payment method.
- Stripe: Stripe is a third-party payment solution. Stripe offers customizable and flexible payment solutions but often comes with increased transaction fees (depending on customer payment method) within your Shopify store because it is third-party. Stripe is available in 135+ currencies and 37 countries. The average payout is two business days.
- Shopify Payment: Shopify payment solution is unique to the Shopify platform. Shopify payment is specifically designed for this platform, decreasing transaction fees. Shopify payments are available in 85 currencies and 17 countries. The average payout is two business days.
Self-Hosted vs. Cloud-Based:
There are pros and cons to both of these categories. Of course, with self-hosted e-commerce platforms, you have increased control over your site, allowing you to choose your hosting provider. The cons include paying for hosting and a domain name, being responsible for maintaining your server and being a little tech-savvy wouldn’t hurt. With cloud-based platforms, you have less to worry about, but that comes with less control.
There is much to consider when deciding which e-commerce platform suits your needs. Here are three primary considerations to keep top of mind: cost, complexity, and control. If you are ready to start your e-commerce future and need help creating a successful business plan, contact YCS Marketing, where creativity meets innovation.