If you want to run a successful online store, you are going to need good e-commerce software that provides an attractive ‘’storefront’’ design, allows you to easily manage your sales and provides a good user experience for the customer. Like other types of software, you have a lot of options to choose from, and it is important to pinpoint your needs and wants when choosing the best program for your online business; here are some considerations to guide your purchasing decision.
Self-Hosted or Web-Hosted?
Like many software programs, you have the option to choose e-commerce software that you install on your own server in a physical location, or you can go to the ‘’cloud’’, where you access the software over the internet from a company who can provide customer support, and takes care of all maintenance and IT issues. The best option for you will depend on many factors, such as cost and technical experience. If you are using the remote hosting option, you will pay a flat monthly fee as well as transaction fees.
Free vs Paid?
We love getting things for free, and like any business owner, you are probably interested in maximizing profits and minimizing expenses. Oodles of free software, including e-commerce programs, are floating around on the internet, and this is definitely one option for you. Many may offer similar features as paid platforms; but, the one drawback is they typically have limited choice when it comes to customizing the look of your online store, and visual appeal is crucial. You want to stand out from the crowd and it will be difficult to do that if you have limited ability to craft the look of your online store.
Custom vs Template?
Many e-commerce solutions offer a template that you can easily follow to get your store up and running with ease; but, much like the free vs. paid, you are losing a bit of flexibility in totally customizing your store to suit your business and target market. If you do decide to go custom, there are some important considerations for choosing the right program, such as fees, whether you will maintain the software yourself or seek the services of a professional web design company, compatibility with your computer system and whether you can you continue to customize the stores as your business needs change.
Maximize Payment Options
The more ways your customers can pay for your goods, the more sales you are likely to make. When choosing your e-commerce software, it is a good idea to pick one that offers as many payment options as possible. You never know which methods customers would prefer to pay, so make sure all the different ones are there for the choosing.
A vital part to the success of any website hoping to sell something, whether a product or service, is being found in the search engines; without that, you are sunk. When picking the software to craft your online store and make purchases, make sure it offers settings that are friendly to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Examples of good add-ons include meta and title tags, ability to generate static URLs and make tableless layouts.
As more and more people surf the web on their smart phones and IPads, providing mobile-friendly versions of a site is becoming increasingly important for online businesses; there is a good chance many of your potential customers are surfing your store from a mobile device and you want to provide them an attractive site that is fully functional.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers all things online business; if you are interested in a web-based e-commerce solution, she highly recommends visiting CloudSwipe for more information.