New solutions appear every year and are constantly vying with competitors for your attention and, of course, money. The choice – that is ‘how to find the only business ecommerce software that suits your special needs’ – has become the major problem. Let’s see in the brief what the key steps to make the right decision are. You’re choosing your main working instrument, so don’t be in hurry. A dysfunctional program is capable to cripple all your selling efforts.
Clear vision of business needsTake some time to think over your goals and especially the reasons. Why do you start this online shop affair? Is it just to earn some pocket money selling handmade stuff via your blog or you’re planning to create a serious ecommerce business? Your answer will determine the type of solution, so, take it seriously.
Your level of technical skillsIf you’ve never built a web site before, make sure that usability is one of the most prominent characteristics of the chosen application. For new-comers it’s better to search for a SaaS platform with simple administration. If you’re more or less experienced in building web-shops, navigate the Net for more complicated platforms with numerous additional features. Perhaps, an open source solution modifiable according to your business needs, will suit best.
Must-have functionsBefore making a definite choice, write down all the features that your solution should possess. To do this, answer 3 main questions – what, where and how. What products are you going to sell? For example, flower e-shops require very clear pictures, possibility to create customized flower compositions and rapid delivery. If you think to sell abroad, you’ll need international shipment options, multi-language web site and multi-currency payment methods. The way you’re going to sell is also important for a correct choice. If you think of using direct mailing to loyal customers, selling gift cards, creating promos, wish-lists and sales, look for a solution with extended marketing features.
Enumerate all possible functions you may need, even the basic ones. Don’t forget such must-haves like abandoned cart saving, local tax calculation, one-page check out and multiple payment methods. Study thoroughly the feature list of each e-commerce platform and compare it with yours. Pay attention to the number of built-in and additional payable features in ready-to-use solutions.
Web-hosting vs. self-hostingMany shopping cart software companies offer SaaS solutions that mean they sell software and services in one package. It simplifies the task for customers who aren’t tech savvies but need to get a working ecommerce solution as quick as possible. SaaS applications are user-friendly and hosted by vendor. You’ll need to pay a monthly or yearly fee for the software, security and hosting. It’s a perfect choice for those who don’t want to tackle the technical issues.
Generally, web-hosting is more secured because vendors have usually more powerful and modern equipment, qualified IT support team and are aware of the latest releases and issues in IT world. Self-hosted software is completely free but you’ll need to find and pay external hosting and an appropriate SSL certificate. It requires a certain technical level and is more time and effort consuming. On the other side, it saves your money.
SaaS platforms are certainly intuitive and user-friendly, and can be the best ecommerce software for small business. However, they have a limited functionality and, perhaps, won’t be able to cover all your needs. Be very attentive while comparing your feature list with that of the builder or vendor. It’s quite the opposite with the open source software. You have access to the whole code and can modify it as you want. Open source developers are united in a large net of professional forums where you can ask any sort of technical questions and get qualified answers and help. However, be ready to have enough time and technical skills for it. Usually such solutions are more complicated to operate and aren’t recommended for e-shop beginners.
PriceA shopping cart price for ready-to-use packages depends on numerous factors, such as bandwidth and storage space. Some vendors charge an additional fee if you exceed your monthly storage limit. You’ve got a basic pack of templates but may be charged for extras. The number of features varies between packs and vendors. Opt for a cart with social media and basic SEO, and then you’ll be able to optimize search results in search engines and add “like” button on product pages. Make sure your pack includes unlimited number of support tickets, especially if you’re building your first e-shop. When you finally choose the Internet shopping cart solution, it’s high time to test it. It’s a very time-consuming but vital process. Most vendors offer a free trial for 14 or 30 days.
Test both the customer and admin parts, as they’re equally important. Try every single function from your must-have list and be sure they’re user-friendly and intuitional. Ask the support team for help is also a good practice and will give you the idea of response time. Look for a 24/7 support with online chat and e-mail contact. Check to see that the user manual and self-help documentation are up to date. You can also learn about the solution common problems by browsing the community forum. Study every candidate the same way. Sure, that’s a lot of job. But it’s inevitable if you’re looking for reliable and comprehensive business ecommerce software.
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