Not all eCommerce sites are created equal. So if you are planning on selling online, you need to understand what to look for when choosing between eCommerce platform options. It starts with recognizing your requirements for everything from mobile pages to website designs and product pages to SEO features. 

Identifying Your eCommerce Platform Needs 

What are the most important questions to answer before choosing an eCommerce platform for your online store? To save you a lot of time and help narrow down your search, there are some factors to consider when choosing the right eCommerce software. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Is my business looking to grow?

How much money am I willing to spend?

Will there be extra costs for plug-ins, apps, and transactions? 

Will you be paying a flat monthly fee? 

First of all, there is no small business that would say No to business growth. But there’s also no guarantee of when or whether your online business will boom and experience rapid growth. Therefore, it’s better to go for an eCommerce platform that suits your current needs but can also scale if needed in the future. So when choosing the right eCommerce solution, you need platform options that allow flexibility and some room to expand. 

Consider an eCommerce platform as a crucial investment for your online business. Your budget may be small; therefore, you shouldn’t overpay for platform options and features you don’t need (right away), so be sure to do your homework and weigh the pros and cons of each platform to determine the type of eCommerce platform that is right for you. Choose an eCommerce platform that offers the best features, then check for the price that fits your budget.

Tips for Choosing the Top eCommerce Platform

Here are some eCommerce tips for choosing the best platform providers: 

Start your free trial

Typically, eCommerce platform vendors offer a trial period (no longer than 15 days) when you can take their platform for a spin and know whether you like it or not. You can connect with the support and sales staff and ask questions regarding the platform (anything from payment processes to CRM integration to design, etc.). Create a checklist to make sure to get all the information you need.

Determine what type of platform is best for your store design

Your eCommerce business is the digital window to your brand, and in the online realm, it is what will make the first impression on your online customers. For an impeccable first impression, you need to give your site visitors a seamless web experience, which includes excellent UX and web design. Most platforms offer free and paid themes and templates, and you will need one that’s customizable enough for you to add your brand visuals. A customized online store will set you up for immediate differentiation from the very beginning.

Choose a few platforms and start trials by uploading filler content to the backend. Then, preview your website using multiple themes to find what works best for you. Look for scalability over time, customizability, ease of use and make sure it’s responsive to all devices and screen resolutions.

Determine the platform’s customizability and scalability

Every business wants to grow and, with the right strategies, it will grow over time. But as a business grows, it needs increased support from its eCommerce platform. Many companies use APIs to automate and customize their online stores according to their needs. 

While small businesses and startups may not be ready for marketing automation and other advanced features, it’s something they want to plan for. When selecting the best eCommerce platform for your brand, look for those with fast and trusted APIs

For better understanding, if a platform’s API can allow for hundreds of requests per second, it means that you can update a catalog with 20,000 products in less than a minute. Other platforms with slower APIs could take up to several hours for the same task. Don’t let lack of technology limit your potentials and put you farther away from success. You will pay more, but in the long-term, you’ll save yourself loads of time and spend it on dealing with your business’ core processes.

Test ease of use and store functionality

If you don’t have in-depth tech knowledge and can boast only minimal coding skills, you need an eCommerce store that you can easily manage. 

The platform you’re looking for must be easy to navigate, set up, and use over time, so you’ll need to pay attention to:Platform’s setup flow. Do you get all the explanations and guidelines on domain name registration, setting up taxes, payment processing, loading in products, and everything else before you build and launch a website? Does the platform offer a quick and easy setup flow?

Channel management. In marketing, a brand with an omnichannel strategy has more chances of increasing brand awareness and reaching out to different target audiences. Modern customers are buying anywhere from Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Instagram, Etsy, and so many other sites. So, if your audience spends time in different places, you need to be present at all of them. To be able to manage both your eCommerce website and other channels’ platforms, you will need a centralized management eCommerce platform. You can manage product descriptions and price points, push products, and do more tasks from a single dashboard.

A marketplace for app integrations. You either want a platform with a bunch of already built-in apps or a marketplace to get useful apps (free or paid). By using these apps, you will be able to grow without having to outsource for help. 

Product and SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) management. Instead of adding products categories and products one by one, you can bulk upload them from CSV files, which is a much faster way. An unlimited SKU count is also what you want to have, especially if you have a growing catalog.

Comparing the cost

A good eCommerce platform will cost you a monthly fee. The services a platform offers combines various technologies, such as hosting, payments, checkout, fraud protection, PCI compliance, DDoS attack protection, analytics, and so on. Each eCommerce platform is different, and they all vary in price, so make sure you find out which one will be the best bang for your buck.

What Essential Features Should an eCommerce Platform Have?

The needs of an online shop selling dietary supplements are different than one selling women’s clothing. Every store has a unique set of needs, and your platform should reflect that. But there are features that any good platform should come with, and these include:A website builder with free site themes and user-friendly design functionality

An app store with pre-built add-ons and integrations

Basic eCommerce features, such as catalog management, inventory management, product and category tools, discounts, and promotions

PCI compliance

Ability to create product catalogs and sell an unlimited number of digital or physical products 

Hosting, bandwidth, and year-over-year uptime

SEO tools

Mobile app or mobile-optimized website with a UX-friendly checkout

Secure payment gateway 

Customer support

An inventory system covering all your sales channels

Abandoned cart recovery tools

Before performing an eCommerce platform comparison, identify your specific needs. There are platforms for small businesses that meet all your requirements, allowing you to deliver the kind of user experience that aligns with your brand. 

Once you reach your conclusion and choose the one platform you like, you are ready to design and launch your online store. To stay competitive on the market, choose a platform with advanced features that are native to the eCommerce platform (at no additional cost).