There’s a full roundup of online store builders on the Web, and each has its pros and cons. To make the best choice, try at least some of them during the free trial period (usually 14 or 30 days). Some offer demo version with full functionality, others give you only the basic one with limited features. In most cases that’s enough to get a general idea and make the right choice. A shopping cart for a small business acts as a product catalog, user interface and payment platform. It plays two roles at a time – one for customers and the other for you as the e-store owner and/or administrator. That’s why its choice is crucial for the success of your selling affair.
It goes without saying that the chosen software should be customized to match your business – today but also in several years. Opt for a scalable solution adaptable to the size of a growing e-shop. What are the must-have features for any web store bound to succeed? First of all, it’s attractive home page and product pages. Product descriptions and photos should be bright, clear and eye-catching. And they certainly should be easy and quickly loaded. No customer would wait 2 minutes for every image. He will just close your page and choose another vendor with a quicker Internet connection.
To maximize your chances, an ecommerce shopping cart software solution should be rapid, nice-looking, plain both for you and the customer, and secure. To protect the information, transactions and personal data from fraud, provide you web shop with an appropriate SSL certificate – plenty of them are available for any shop size and at any price. Don’t forget about technical support of the solution. With all else being equal, opt for one that provides the most comprehensive (ideally 24/7) support to the clients. You’ll need the support even if you choose the most easy-to-use software available, unless you’ve got your own tech guy or you’re the one.
Don’t hurry up while studying the shopping cart software available on the market. Take your time, gather as much information as possible, try demos and read overviews and testimonials. The choice of solution is a vitally important technical decision, and a bad choice can ruin your business affair. Another essential feature of a good shopping cart for small businesses is marketing events. Be sure that your solution supports gift cards and vouchers, sales, seasonal events and promos. If this is the case, you’ll be able to send bulk e-mails to all customers registered in your online shop. Having analyzed their orders, wish and put-aside lists, you’ll be able to make personalized offers. Perhaps, your clients would appreciate a monthly newsletter with current marking event, latest news in the industry or just latest arrivals.
Various delivery and payments methods are also very important for any e-shop. Whatever is your customer localization, be sure to provide at least one e-money method (like PayPal), credit card payment (Visa and MasterCard are the most frequently used cards in Europe, Diners Club and American Express – in the USA), cheques and probably cash payments (for local customers). Some e-stores also add a bank transfer. As for delivery, the most popular methods are a shipping or courier company, national post, customer pickup in the warehouse, or delivery to a local partner (the customer chooses a store close to him). Your choice depends upon your sales volume, negotiated delivery prices from your partners and customer geography. That is if the most of your clients live in your city or country, you don’t need international delivery. At least to date. Nevertheless, the shipment methods can evaluate together with the sales volume and geography.
Ecommerce store solutionsDon’t forget your needs as the site owner and administrator. User-friendly and intuitive admin panel can avoid unnecessary and anxious attempts and waste of time. In fact, you’ll need the same features as your customers – self-explanatory admin interface, clear and rapid payment processing, easy-to-use management, marketing and static analysis tools. All these will simplify your managerial work and liberate some time necessary to develop the business. The most reliable ecommerce store solutions have already a lot of clients. Visit the appropriate forums and talk to experienced users. Sometimes their positive or negative experience and advice can change your mind and save you from making a wrong decision.
Technical questions and customization can become a real problem if you aren’t a tech savvy. In this case, opt for a hosted solution that offers hosting, integration and security at a time. Bear in mind that free shopping carts are suitable for very small e-stores or for technical geniuses. They demand a lot of customization, knowledge of html and php, and plenty of time. Whatever selling platform you choose, don’t try to make it perfect before start selling. Actually, selling is the aim, so the sooner you launch it, the sooner you’ll see the defects and errors of your online shop. But these will be the problems of the already working shop! And it makes all the difference.
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