Don’t forget that if your business grows, dozens of vendors become hundreds, and you may need additional managerial or customer features, not included neither in the basic nor in the advanced package. If you’re lucky you’ll find the necessary features among the add-ons offered for a certain price. Otherwise the only thing you can do is to change the provider (and the software) for another one which has the function in question. But if you write your online marketplace script yourself (or a developer does it for your), you can add any functions and features you need. Certainly, it will be longer than a simple buying of a box solution. Time is money, but a personalized script will provide you numerous advantages: you can offer sellers the functions that don’t exist in commercial solutions, or build a powerful admin panel with analytical, marketing and bookkeeping tools that facilitate site management to the maximum.
It goes without saying, that the software you choose should be flexible and adaptable according to your and vendors’ needs and demands. A large choice of design panels and payment methods for different countries can draw sellers from all over the world. A simple and intuitive check-out page will catch fancy of non-techie customers. Pay attention to security issues – a trustworthy SSL certificate will protect financial and data transactions as well as vendor and customer personal information. Many hosting providers also offer security pack, so you can opt for both. A responsive online shopping mall must also satisfy the needs of mobile users – tablets and smartphones constitute a large part (nearly 20%) of computer devices frequently used for Internet access today. The screen of mobile devices is smaller so you’ll need a customized mobile version with reduced images and text size. Some customers and even vendors don’t have a quick Internet connection, so it’s good to provide previews and a version with minimum graphic and video information. The connection with your web mall hoster should be fast as a flash because modern customers are awfully impatient and don’t want to waste even a second of their precious time. If they cannot download the product image or description in 3-4 seconds, they can leave this unlucky e-store for another one, which is quicker.
If you’ve got at least one techie person (or you are one yourself), consider self-hosting as a possibility to reduce expenses. External hosting is safer and more stable due to dedicated support and high quality equipment. In return you’ll have to pay a monthly fee which can be pretty high.
Shopping mall scriptThe developer should consider all necessary architecture issues, optimize the content and streamline the checkout procedure. A single well considered codebase is enough for building nearly any add-on feature or mini version. A small team of front-end developer and web designer are capable to build a comprehensive shopping mall script suitable for any selling business.
Attractive product photos and themes aren’t enough to gain customer loyalty. User-friendly product catalogue navigation and filtering system make the buying experience smoothing and pleasant. Instead of looking through thousands of items, the customer can use multiple filters translating to smaller displays. They fold down into a scrollable product list. Once you’ve identified all, or the most of necessary features of your future e-mall, it’s high time to choose one. Those who opt for a commercial solution, will be caught between dozen of application of different size and price. To make a good choice, try at least 3 or 4 of them during a trial period (usually it’s about 1 month). These demo versions are free but often with reduced functionality. You can load several products, descriptions and photos, try it as a customer and vendor. Don’t forget to test admin and management facilities – as a mall owner, you’ll use them daily. Make sure that your selling business will be able to grow and develop with this software.
After all, no matter what solution – industrial or self-made – you choose, the most important thing is to launch sales. At the beginning your newborn online marketplace won’t be very popular. Try some marketing actions and promos to draw vendors. Don’t chase too many of them from the very start – it’s better to get a dozen and put the sales right with them, than hook a hundred at once and not be able to manage them properly. Whatever the way you choose, you’ll be overwhelmed with questions and doubts. You’re not the only one to have them, so feel free to contact other start-uppers and web designers on the web and in real life. Perhaps, they’ve already found a solution to the problem that seems unsolvable.
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