If you’ve been wishing for someone to explain in plain English how to choose the best online store, look no further! eCommerce platforms have exploded in the past decade, and there are more options than ever before. There isn’t such a thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to selling your items online, so depending on your individual needs, we’ll try to find what store is right for you. You also need to consider your sales strategy; for example, if you plan to attract business through social media or Google via search engine optimization. There’s plenty of information out there on both areas, like this ultimate guide to the best eCommerce platforms for SEO.
Getting What you Need
An eCommerce software is a bundle of specific website features, such as
- Providing and displaying the store owner with order information
- Collecting and receiving payment securely
- Allowing customers to put products in a “cart”
- Allowing customers to place an order
- Listing and displaying products
These are the core features you’ll find on all eCommerce websites, but others include design features, marketing tools, better security, and the potential to sync with your inventory system. Think of the tradeoffs that matter to you, figure out what you need and want and what you’re willing to pay for it.
Assessing Core Tradeoffs
Maximum convenience versus maximum control is the most critical tradeoff when looking for the perfect store. This tradeoff is typical in all software, as software that’s easier to use usually come with fewer options. We’ll be evaluating our choices based on this.
100% Convenience Versus 0% Control
This section allows you to list your products and take orders and payments. However, you have little to no control over the customers’ experience, but you can list your products with no complications. Software is usually free or very cheap, and the company does the marketing for you. Examples that fall into this category are Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. The greatest thing about these platforms is that you can still make a large sum of money from them, so much so that many don’t move on to paid sites.
70% Convenience Versus 30% Control
These websites allow you to have more control and will often let you have your own domain name. However, you are still living on someone else’s webspace and have to adhere to their rules. Examples that fall into this category are Wix, Weebly, and PayPal. These all let you paste a bit of code onto your existing website that reroutes customers to the eCommerce site to process payments.
50% Convenience Versus 50% Control
Hosted eCommerce platforms give you as much control possible before having to pay for your own server. You’ll have customer support and various onboarding tools to make the transition to their site easier. Examples that fall into this category are Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion. These websites all take care of the big stuff, aka the storage space and the support — but can be quite pricey
30% Convenience Versus 70% Control
This is where you start running your own website on your own server. You’ll have a lot more control over the cost and the features pertaining to your brand. The sky’s the limit for how you set up your store; the only thing stopping you is your budget. Examples that fall into this category are self-hosted WordPress blogs, Magento, and other plugin shopping carts like OpenCart.
0% Convenience Versus 100% Control
If you have a lot of money lying around to spend on your specific needs and wants, you could hire a developer to make and code your own server for your online shop. You’ll be buying your own website that you can do literally anything with. Although there is a lot of upfront cost to this, it may be worth it to you. With this specific route, you would never have to worry about a website going down or a website potentially failing. Although the above mentioned in the other categories are pretty safe, you really never know. With your own server, the only way you would lose your website forever is if you delete it yourself or the internet ceases to exist.
For more information on eCommerce and how it can benefit your business, see this article.