Drafted by: Sioned Vaughn
An e-commerce solution is simply an online tool, software, or platform that helps online vendors conduct business online. There is a wide range of solutions available to e-commerce businesses, that can handle anything from marketing, payment processing, bookkeeping, vendor management, to web design, and a whole host of other solutions. No matter the solution you’re looking for, though, you should keep in mind these five things when you’re evaluating your options to make sure you’re getting good value, and adding a solution that will work well with your business.
Suite of Products
When e-commerce first became a thing, websites had to purchase one-off products to use for solutions. This understandably led to issues with integration and with people paying more than necessary for a large variety of solutions, not to mention the amount of time they had to spend dealing with each tool. Nowadays, larger companies have started offering a suite of solutions, all optimally designed to work together (hopefully) seamlessly. One good example of a service offering a suite of products is OpenCart, which can help you build a digital storefront quickly and easily, even if you don’t have a lot of experience in web design.
Flexible Pricing Model
If you’re a small business, another thing you’ll want to look for in the solutions you choose is whether they have a flexible pricing model. Solutions targeted at small businesses will usually have several pricing tiers for you to choose from. The lower tiers will have fewer features, but you can choose the level you want so you’re not paying for features you won’t use. Many are even free if you’re not using them too much; for instance, if you’re looking for a way to design business cards for free, check out this site.
Any e-commerce solution should be able to integrate into your webpage without crashing it, and for that, you’ll probably need to discuss your options with their customer service (which we’ll get to in a minute). This is separate from integration e-commerce solutions, which specifically are designed to help with this integration. These days, you can integrate relatively easily because of the plethora of add-ons and extensions that are available, often for free or cheap. These add-ons will be particular to the e-commerce hosting site you choose (like Magento or Shopify), usually in some sort of app store.
You don’t want to look for tools without considering the customer support your tools have. You will most likely need to call for help at least once while you’re using the e-commerce solution, and you probably don’t have time to be waiting on hold endlessly or speaking with someone whose first language is not English. You can usually find this out through review sites, and one good website that reviews e-commerce solutions is PCMag, where you can get info on a variety of different tools.
Custom-designed e-commerce solutions will come with a higher price tag, although technological advancements make it easier to get a customized solution quicker and at lower costs. However, one thing to look for in any e-commerce solution is their out-of-the-box features, and how those might support your needs. Especially if you’re looking for a free tool, you should check to see what features come standard as they’ll be limited on free versions.
There are of course many other factors you should consider when you’re shopping for a solution for your web business, but these five can make or break your store and cause a lot of problems for you and your customer if they’re not considered.