You need to know what you want and need before you start looking for an ecommerce solution. The more details you plan ahead, the better for you.
As a website designer, I’ve all too often worked with clients who only chose their ecommerce solution because it was “free” or because their website designer recommended it. Your designer can be a wonderful resource in choosing the right ecommerce solution, but only if they know enough about your needs, the options available, and are used to working with a variety of ecommerce solutions instead just focus on one or two . One size doesn’t fit all in e-commerce.
Start with a “wish list” of all the features your ideal ecommerce solution would have and rank them by priority. Know which features are an absolute “must have” and which ones you can be flexible with. Delivering digital products can be critical to your business. Or you may need a specific payment gateway but can be flexible on shipping. These are the things you should know before you start purchasing your ecommerce solution.
Here are some of the biggest areas to consider:
* What technical skills are required to update/manage the eCommerce solution? Some are more user friendly than others. Be sure to try a demo before making your choice. All ecommerce solutions will have a learning curve, but some will be easier than others. Check out the learning support options – what’s available? User Guide? video tutorials? Support Helpdesk?
* What payment methods do you accept? PayPal? credit cards? This is important to know before you decide, as not all ecommerce solutions work with all payment gateways.
* How are the shipping costs for your items calculated? Need real-time shipping quotes (UPS, USPS, FedEx, or other carriers)? Or do you use a spreadsheet method, percentage, or flat rate shipping?
* Would you like to offer coupons or promotions? Which type? Do you need to limit sales to certain categories or products, or limit the number of uses of a coupon?
* Need your cart to track your inventory for limited quantities or unique items?
* If you offer digital products (PDF e-books, MP3s, etc.), do you need instant delivery of the products through your e-commerce system?
* What is your budget for the total costs? Keep in mind that in addition to licensing fees, you’ll need to budget for a designer, possibly an SSL certificate, and support for your selected cart. Oftentimes, a licensed shopping cart turns out to be cheaper than a free shopping cart when you add in the cost of customization and support.
* If you plan to have your drops shipped or work with a product fulfillment company, see if it can be seamlessly integrated. Your drop shipper should be able to guide you to the systems that will work best with their systems.
Some other features you might want to consider:
* Can you manage your entire website with the eCommerce solution or does it only manage your products?
Some shopping carts are designed as “whole site” solutions, where you add information pages, change your site layout, and more from within the shopping cart manager.
Other shopping carts are designed as “add-on” solutions, where you either add small “add to cart” buttons to your existing website pages or link to a web store, but keep your information pages on a separate website.
* Is it “search engine friendly” or will you have a hard time getting traffic from the search engines?
To be search engine friendly, a shopping cart should allow you to control your page titles, descriptions, keyword tags, image names, etc. The generated URLs shouldn’t be full of characters like? and & and =, but instead look like real words (preferably your product names).
* Do you want something that is fully branded and integrated with your domain name/website, or do you want something smaller with a hosted e-commerce system like an Etsy shop (etsy.com), Hyena Cart (hyenacart.com) or a Start an eBay shop? (ebay.com)?
Once you have a list of the features and functionality you need in a shopping cart, it’s time to consider your options. Compare them one by one against your needs list and you will find the one that works best for your website.
Thanks to Michelle Shaeffer | #choose #ecommerce #solution #website