STEP: HOW TO CHOOSE AN eCommerce PLATFORM FOR YOUR NEW BUSINESS
An ecommerce platform is an online vendor that makes use of software technologies to enable business owners host virtual storefronts where their products and services can be displayed for consumers to access and purchase.
Ecommerce platforms are built using tools, frameworks and processes such as application programming interface, Data models, Business logic, Development environment, Server side scripts and Integration framework.
In a layman’s sense, an ecommerce platform is like an online shopping mall that allows you space to market your product or services within that location. The mall provides you with the space and other facilities that would enhance your activities.
Hosted Vs Self-Hosted Platform
E-commerce platforms are of two major categories: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted implies that the platform will provide cloud hosting for your store, while self-hosted means you would be provided with software while you provide your own Web hosting.
A hosted platform is best suited for new businesses because you get dedicated support and assurance of always being online.
Popular hosted ecommerce platforms include Shopify, bigcommerce, demandware, squarespace, 3Dcart, Zencart and volusion, just to mention a few.
Examples of self-hosted ecommerce platforms are magento, woocommerce, e-junkie, Wix and Weebly,
To get the full benefit from using an ecommerce platform, you should also consider working creating a strong online presence from your business through the effective use social media platforms like facebook, twitter, pinterest and so on.
Benefits Of Ecommerce Platforms For Your Business
Convenience: With an ecommerce platform, you are saved the hassle and technicalities, such as programming and systems integration, involved in setting up your own online store. All you need do is register your business, pay your subscriptions and begin displaying your offers.
Low set-up Cost: Compared to how much you would have required doing it by yourself, the setup cost for ecommerce platforms is quite low. With an ecommerce platform, you basically have a low-cost product management suite that that also simplifies Analytics and reporting, Customer support, Order and inventory management, Procurement, Content management, Marketing, Pricing and promotions
They Are A Cost Effective Means Of Getting Targeted Traffic: An ecommerce platform affords you a faster and cost effective means of achieving online visibility than you would have if you were to host your own platform. You leverage on the traffic already visiting these websites on a daily basis, to boost sales without the need to pay additional advertisement cost. It’s more like outsourcing the sales and promotion aspects of your business so you can concentrate on other aspects like production, product development and other offline activities.
Choosing An Ecommerce Platform
There are different factors to put into consideration in choosing an ecommerce platform. These include Integration: If you have your own back-office applications such as inventory management or customer relationship management software, you may want to find out if your ecommerce vendor’s software can integrate seamlessly with what you have in place. On the other hand, you can simply opt for pre-integrated solutions offered by the platform.
Scalability: Some ecommerce platforms offer better performance in terms of scalability than others.
Customizability: Some platforms give you a wider range of customization options, such as the use of independent links, independent headings, use of social sharing buttons and titles.
Cost: Cost should not be considered in isolation but in relation to the other benefits that the platform provides.
Understanding The Differences
Shopify, for example does not give you the freedom to customize the design of your checkout page but makes up for this in other areas. For instance, although it starts at $29/month, which may be higher than some others, it has a lot nice user interface and a host of nice add-on apps that can be downloaded and installed to your store to improve its functionality.
Woocommerce is basically a wordpress plugin and provides you with tons of resources such as themes and plugins that allows for easy customization.
Explain what ecommerce platforms are, why you would need them, what to look out for when selecting a platform, etc.
WOOCOMMERCE PLUGIN FOR WORDPRESS
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