The ‘click and order’ trend is undergoing a major shift.
As consumers increasingly turn to their PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc. to make buying decisions, small businesses are starting to realize the need to keep up with online operations to cope with the plunges and peaks of consumer demand. The solution?
An online store.
Take a minute to think about it now. Where would your customers shop after closing hours? What’s the one thing you could do to please customers? What’s the one step that you think would change everything?
Most successful businesses today sell products and services on the Internet. So you need to stop and consider all the possibilities before competitors take the lead.
Like any business model there are challenges to opening an online store, with the prime one being selecting the right eCommerce platform to launch your business.
Although the promise of saving money and time by hiring a developer to build an eCommerce site from scratch can be tempting, the reality is that they could end wasting a ton of both.
Luckily, there are powerful eCommerce platforms specifically designed to meet your needs – allowing you to increase sales and attract more customers. Whatever you sell, if you are running on a well-equipped eCommerce platform odds are there will be other businesses having the same needs, so new features and tools will be developed and available to you in a reasonable amount of time.
While there is no perfect platform and there will be tradeoff in picking one over another, I find the following seven provide more flexibility and a low barrier to entry to build an eCommerce store:
PrestaShop is a popular shopping cart software with great potential. It is designed to help businesses build a functioning web store and despite it boasting advanced features such as web 2.0 innovations, the platform is speedy, lightweight and easy to get acquainted with.
Some out-of-the box features offered by PrestaShop include catalog management, search engine optimization, responsive themes, promotional tools, multilingual shopping cart, recently viewed products option, payment extensions and international shipping. There’s also an official marketplace for additional add-ons to connect your online store to other platforms you use.
The best part of all this is that PrestaShop is free to use with no monthly or transaction fees. This makes it perfect for those who are just starting their online store and need to keep costs as low as possible until profits start rolling in.
BigCommerce assists small businesses in creating professional online stores so they can increase revenue. The all-in-one eCommece solution includes a secure shopping cart, website, marketing tools, and mobile themes. You also get advanced features such as product reviews, ‘you may also like’ suggestion, zoom, etc.
The design is 100 percent customizable, so a business can easily use its custom design without the BigCommerce branding/logo. BigCommerce’s customer service philosophy makes it easy for the user to get started: there’s a fold on the homepage reading ‘how can we help you.’ But you get all this in $24.95 a month.
Shopify lets you choose from more than 100 designs to create your online store and add products. Websites are customizable and include a shopping cart compatible with American Express, VISA and MasterCard. A modern admin interface, build-in blog interface, and apps available for almost any advanced functionality, make Shopify a viable option.
Shopify merchants can also sell their products anywhere with Shopify Mobile (includes a build-in mobile credit card reader) and Shopify point-of-sale (works on the iPad). Pricing starts at $14 a month, but merchants have to pay transaction fees for hosting and other services.
4. Magento Community Edition
Magento Community Edition allows small businesses to sell in online markets with no hassle on fulfillment, translations or pricing. A huge benefit of using Magento is that it can be easily integrated with marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, enabling users to easily manage their business from the back end.
The highlight of the Community version is that it’s extensible: it can be used to do almost anything you want in an online shop. While everything isn’t bundled in the default version, it’s either there in the extensions, or in the skills of the Magento contractors that can be hired at affordable rates.
WooCommerce is built on the back of WordPress blogging platform. It is fast and easy to manage, with great support and documentation. Small businesses using WordPress can easily install WooCommerce to get started. Because of this tight integration, it is recommended for businesses that envision content marketing to drive sales of their products and services.
It lets you set up a shop with lots of options including flat rate shipping, bundled PayPal and card payment options, physical product inventory, coupon campaigns and tax settings. There are no price tags associated with WooCommerce.
SpreeCommerce offers a full set of features and is built on common standards, so small business owners using this platform don’t have to forego speed to market, innovation or efficiency. The modular solution allows you to easily configure or replace any store functionality, so that you can build a storefront exactly to your specifications.
SpreeCommerce customers also get to use Wombat, the new automatic integration platform that connects a storefront to its backend operations. It intelligently routes product orders and data to ensure the right information is at the right place at the right time. It’s free to get started with SpreeCommerce.
Selz offers simple ways to boost sales with an eCommerce store that offers a beautiful buying experience. You can start selling products quality without the need of all the bells and whistles of a full-blown eCommerce application.
The quick and easy eCommerce platform allows you to add products within minutes, and businesses don’t even require to have a website; you can get a web store with a custom domain, share the link and start selling. You can also use Selz widgets on your pre-existing blog or website as opposed to having a complete store. Selz also includes handy features such as shopping cart integration and responsive themes. Users can sign up for free, and only pay a fee of 5% + 25c when you make a sale.
To find the best platform for your needs, you need to look at what is best for your customer experience… and your budget! If you’ve tried any of these solutions, or have another favorite, please share in the comments!