You’ve decided to launch an e-commerce site. Your reason may be to move your brick-and-mortar business to an online business. Or it may be that you’re starting a new business, and it is strictly online.
Whatever your reason, there are many options out there to build an e-commerce website. How do you decide? It can be quite overwhelming.
It comes down to several questions about you and your business that will determine the best course of action.
Questions you need to ask:
The first question is this: can you afford to hire and retain someone to build a custom online store and to maintain it for you? A custom e-commerce website design can range anywhere from $5 thousand and upwards, depending on platform and requirements. Then there’s the continued investment for hosting, maintenance, and security.
How important is it to you to have control over your brand and content? If this is extremely important to you, the ability to have control over your domain, content, and the look and feel of your online look, including your logo and color schemes, then there are some options out there that are not viable for you.
What types of payment systems will you be using? Will you be using Authorize.net, Square, Paypal, Apple Pay, or using a Merchant account? Even though most shoppers are accustomed to paying with Paypal, there is still quite a bit of those today who do not want to use Paypal and would rather pay with their credit card. Will you be charging recurring fees?
For an e-commerce site, customer service is essential. How will you handle and respond to customer concerns? Do you want to integrate your CRM with your e-commerce site, or do you expect this e-commerce vendor to provide you access to a reliable CRM tool? (for an additional monthly fee).
Chatbots and a toll-free number are also suggested. If you decide to use a chatbot, online shoppers today have come to expect a live chatbot that operates 24/7. You can quickly get a toll-free number for your e-commerce site through various vendors such as grasshopper or mightycall.
It is often easier and more accurate to leave shipping cost calculations to the carrier you use. Major carriers will calculate shipping costs for you for free, and most major e-commerce vendors allow you to integrate those costs into your store’s checkout section.
Product Images and Descriptions
Online shoppers cannot see, feel or smell your product. Your e-commerce site must display crisp, clear product images. Most e-commerce business owners usually retain a professional photographer and copywriter to get high-quality photos and compelling product descriptions.
You may also want to determine how important it is to have such functionality as a 360-degree view of your product images or augmented reality (AR). An example of AR would be a shopper’s ability to visualize an item – such as a sofa or lamp – in the context of their own home to see if it’s right for their environment. 360-degree product photography allows a visitor to see a product at all angles by spinning the image. They can zoom in or rotate the product, for example.
Publishing an online catalog on your e-commerce site is another way of presenting your product images by turning your entire selection of products into an inspirational content-rich experience.
Customer Reviews and Social Sharing
Giving your customers the ability to provide reviews can only help boost confidence to your store. Positive reviews and social media shares could lead to more sales and boost your SEO rankings.
But there is a downside: negative comments or unrelated comments. You should make sure you can review comments before they are published or have the ability to remove the undesirable comments.
It is advisable to choose an e-commerce vendor that uses search engine optimization or allows for the best search engine optimization practices within its site. SEO tactics allow for your store to achieve rankings in Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The e-commerce website must also be responsive, provide a good user experience and fast page load speeds. Web accessibility is another criteria to be mindful of when it comes to your e-commerce site. With more than 20% of your potential shoppers who have a disability, you do not want to ignore those visitors. To get your web accessibility checklist, go here.
What options are there out there?
There are a plethora of options to create your e-commerce website. Based on the questions, it does require research on your part. Even if you went with an e-commerce vendor, there would be a monthly fee of some sort. How much of a monthly fee can you afford? Start with that. Then how much can you afford to build one? There are startup costs involving photography, copywriting, plugins, graphic design work, and other additional charges.
Ecommerce vendor companies to explore (in no particular order, and I receive no affiliate links)
In terms of ease, Shopify probably ranks number one. It is ideal for startups. Magento is more popular for big businesses and corporations; however, Woo-commerce is six times more popular than Magento. Magento is much more scalable for people with large successful online ventures. BigCommerce is a simple solution for small-sized businesses, but when it comes to scaling and customization, woo-commerce ranks higher in security, scalability, pricing, and customization, as well as search engine optimization.
If you need assistance in determining the best course of action for your business, contact SCS Digital Marketing for a consult.