Not a single online store can appear and then run successfully without ecommerce software. It empowers and services every aspect of an ecommerce project – from storefront design and product inventory to final checkout and money transfers. Therefore, the quality of a tool you choose to build your own online venture may have the biggest impact on how successful it is going to be. But the issue is how and what to choose.
From free applications with the basic functionality to costly all-inclusive systems, there are actually hundreds of ecommerce solutions available on the Web market today. As you probably know, successful business is about making right decisions. I’m here to give you some tips, that hopefully will guide you in the right direction and help choosing an ideal software solution for your future ecommerce project. Well, let’s start!
1. To Pay or Not to Pay
The first decision you will have to take when choosing an ecommerce platform to build and manage your online store – should it be free or paid one? There are plenty of free solutions available on the Web market today and some of them are really very popular due to their rather extensive toolkit included and advanced flexibility offered. However, there is a certain disadvantage in going this way: free ecommerce programs and applications come typically with a rather poor choice of layouts to customize website look and feel and a standard range of options and features. That’s why, it may appear quite challenging to make your web store stand out from the crowd. When entering the modern highly competitive market, it’s vital to be original, creative and professional with your venture, responding adequately to the needs and requirements of your targeted audience.
2. Open-Source vs. Closed-Source Solutions
The next logical step is to choose either a closed-source or open-source tool. Frankly speaking, many business owners find this issue to be a rather challenging dilemma. While propriety programs and applications promise enhanced safety from dubious intervention and other associated threats, you should know that ultimate customization comes with open-source applications only. The open-source approach implies that you will face no restrictions or limitations when modifying your web store in accordance with your specific requirements. Generally, you’re allowed to make any necessary changes in the system source code, design your own custom storefront, extend its predefined functionality – actually, enjoy unlimited customization opportunities to build an absolutely unique and sophisticated online marketplace. Besides, open-source products often cost significantly less if compared to their closed-source alternatives.
3. The Credibility Level
Check the company client list to ensure how popular this piece of software is and how successful these online projects are. With thousands of online ventures using this particular ecommerce platform, you can enjoy total peace of mind knowing that it is trustworthy and powerful enough. And of course, don’t forget to look through reviews and testimonials on solutions you’re interested in to find out what real people think about them.
4. Scalability and Flexibility
Scalability and flexibility are the next two crucial criteria to consider while choosing an ecommerce platform – it should be designed with different user types in mind and cater perfectly for various ecommerce requirements, even the most specific and complicated ones. For example, a really robust and full-fledged program provides maximum efficiency and scalability for any ecommerce project irrespective of its size – from small web shops to virtual malls with multiple departments.
5. Multiple Payment Options
Today it has become viable for every online store to accept the most popular online payment methods. There are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of them and you never know which one your particular customer would prefer. Make sure that your ecommerce platform comes integrated with as many payment gateways (both credit card processors and payment options) as possible to ensure convenient and absolutely secure shopping experience for your clients.
6. Is It Search Engine Friendly?
No doubt, your overall online success to a great extent depends on how prominent you are in Google and other popular search engines. If an ecommerce system claims to be fully functional, it obviously has to be search engine friendly as well. By choosing a solution offering SEO friendly settings, you can expect that it will make a significant contribution to your SEO efforts to achieve stable indexing and top results in Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. with your targeted keywords. Such programs typically come with a variety of SEO add-ons integrated that allow to create custom meta and title tags, generate static URLs from dynamic ones, provide tableless layouts, etc.
7. Mobile Compatibility
In our era of advanced mobile technologies, consumers enjoy the idea of shopping online through their mobile devices – smartphones, iPads, tablet PCs, PDAs, etc. In fact, it has become indispensable for any online store to provide the ultimate mobile experience for their prospects. Make sure that your ecommerce platform comes fully integrated with powerful mobile applications that enable to create a fully-functional, optimized mobile version of your web store. It would be even pretty much better, if you’re additionally provided with the ability to manage and control your storefront from any mobile device when you’re on the go and away from your office.
Finally, you should always remember that it’s only your responsibility as a business owner to take the final decision. Of course, it can be rather helpful to consult with your IT staff and professional web developers, but none of them knows and understands your business needs and goals better than you. Perhaps, you have some other useful tips in mind. Feel free to share them in the comments below.
This is a guest post by Nicolas Fincher – a community manager at CS-Cart, a company specializing in shopping cart software development with its principal product CS-Cart ecommerce software.