During 2020, many businesses have realized the need to shift the way they normally run their business in order to make it more available to their loyal consumers. In some cases, that looked like virtual tours over social media. But some brands even went as far as to switch their brick-and-mortar led business to also provide a digital option.
If you’re considering setting up an online shop, the first thing a simple Google search will show you is the sheer number of e-commerce platform options available. There are currently over 370 ecommerce platforms, and while list after online list attempts to rank the top 10 from worst to best, it’s difficult to tell which platform is right for your brand.
There are so many factors to consider, from monthly budgets to template design to product management, and it’s hard to know which platform will best fit your needs.
A quick GoogleTrends comparison highlights Shopify as the most popular ecommerce platform of 2020, even with the recent coronavirus-induced dip. In fact, Shopify has consistently ranked most popular since February 2017, and we anticipate this trend will continue.
But does “most popular” mean it’s the best platform for your business?
The truth is, most ecommerce platforms offer similar basic features. To choose a platform that works for you, it’s important to clarify your needs, research each platform and start a few free trials with the top contenders.
If you follow these three steps, you’ll walk away with a clear idea of which platform you prefer!
Step 1: Clarify Your Needs
Take some time to analyze your business model, goals and needs. Then answer the following questions:
1. Do I operate a B2B or B2C business?
2. Do I need my ecommerce platform to provide web hosting? If so, what is my budget?
3. Will I need extensions, like PayPal buttons and invoicing?
4. Do I want to design my online store using templates, or will I build it from scratch?
5. How detailed an analytics report do I need?
6. How important is support? Do I need quick live chats or phone calls if my site is freezing or a button I installed isn’t working correctly?
7. Can I do this on my own, or should I look for agency support?
Step 2: Do Your Research
Now that you’ve determined what your business will need, dig up a few side-by-side comparisons of top ecommerce sites and see which platforms best meet your needs. Pay close attention to the following:
1. Does this platform allow the sale of physical or digital goods? What about services and memberships?
2. What types of customer payment does this platform allow?
3. Can I ship locally, nationally or internationally with this platform?
4. What sales features (like purchase funnels and abandoned cart tracking) does this platform offer?
5. Can I use this platform to sell on multiple social media channels?
6. What type of fulfillment model does this platform use, and what is the cost?
Step 3: Try a Trial
After you’ve clarified what your business needs and researched what individual platforms have to offer, it’s time to narrow down your choices and test drive your top platform picks. Most ecommerce sites prominently allow you to play around with templates and graphics for free.
1. Do the templates offered match my business’s branding?
2. Can I easily access analytics in real-time? Are the analytics detailed enough that I can see where to make adjustments in my business?
3. How customizable and user friendly is this platform’s SEO?
4. Which features are included in the platform’s basic plan? And which are paid add-ons?
5. How easily can I manage my inventory on this platform?
6. Would I feel comfortable managing my business on this platform?
Choosing an ecommerce platform can feel like an overwhelming task, but breaking it down into manageable steps like these not only simplifies the process, but it gives you a clear picture of exactly what your business needs from a platform in order to grow and succeed.
At (human)x, we walk through these steps with each of our customers to clarify and develop their custom ecommerce strategy. Our first priority is making your brand matter. If you need the support of an agency that delivers what it promises, you’re in the right place. See what partnering with (human)x can do for your business today!