Choosing the right ecommerce tools makes a huge difference in how your online store will perform, but deciding which ones are the right fit can be an overwhelming process. Online businesses come in all sizes and shapes, and each one has needs specific to its vertical.
By Bart Mroz
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform and the marketing/payment devices that will pair well with it. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you begin your search for the right digital tools that will take your business to the next level.
Factors to Consider
How big is your ecommerce business? That’s the first question you should ask yourself when choosing a platform. And while the size of your office and the number of employees you have should be taken into account, your budget will be the most important consideration when choosing digital tools for your online store. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re spending. Secondary costs, like fees per transaction, can add up quickly, and while one platform may cost more out of pocket, it may save you money in the long term.
The next step is determining whether you will you use a hosted or self-hosted ecommerce platform. In other words, you can hire a third party’s software services to do the hard work for you, even if you have little knowledge of coding and best practices. Or, you can self-host and customize the software as you please, without any constraints. Though there’s no right or wrong choice, sellers just dipping their feet in the ecommerce pool often opt for hosted platforms because they’re easier to operate and don’t take much time to get started. Shopify is a popular choice for small businesses in need of a hosted platform.
More established, often larger companies looking to really stand out from the competition typically choose to host themselves on a platform like Magento. They want to make sure every element is unique to their brand, and they often have the necessary team to change and maintain the platform as needed.
Safety, cost, and capabilities should be your three biggest considerations when determining what payment tools you’ll use to process your transactions. And while many resources offer safe solutions, prices and services vary among different providers.
Determine what your preferred fee structure is. Do you want a monthly subscription or do you prefer to pay per transaction? If you just launched your business or it’s seen incredible growth in recent months, know if your transactions are within the provider’s minimum and maximum limits.
Stripe is an ideal option for business owners that want to have control of how and when payments are processed. Features include recurring billing, integrated billing forms for your ecommerce site, and fraud protection. Stripe also accepts over 100 different kinds of currency, including bitcoin. If your ecommerce business has a physical store as well, one of the most popular payment tools available, Square, might be the right choice. It even has a service designed specifically for retailers.
There are a lot of digital marketing tools on the market, many of which leverage social media, video, and other trends that have gained prominence in the last decade. Email remains one of the best ways to communicate your business’s products, sales, and services. But email’s importance isn’t based on its long history; its effectiveness has been proven, averaging an ROI of 4300%.
Campaign Monitor specializes in behavioral email marketing, allowing retailers to send hyper-personalized emails based on existing data from mobile apps, booking systems and more. Nashville-based email marketing company Emma allows clients to check open, compare, and share result campaigns on their free mobile app. Mailchimp, Inc.’s Company of the Year 2017, has been around for over a decade and just released a new feature that allows retailers to send cart abandonment emails on iOS.
Customer Service and Live Chat
An ecommerce business can’t thrive without helpful customer service, but if your business is booming, answering hundreds or even thousands of customer requests can be difficult. That’s why utilizing the right customer service and live chat tools is crucial.
For retailers with the necessary resources, in-house customer service is an option. You can guarantee the safety of your client’s information because direct representatives of your company are doing the leg work. In-house services also allow for more flexibility and any tough or never-been-asked questions can get immediate answers.
But for small and medium-sized businesses, outsourcing is a more cost-effective solution. Zendesk offers omnichannel customer support, live chat, and even a call center for your customers, but if you’re just in need of live chat, Pure Chat offers free live chat software that you can integrate into your existing website code.
Determining which ecommerce platform platform and digital tools to use may seem like a tedious process, but it’s central to laying the groundwork for a successful business. As your brand grows and you expand your online store, a strong foundation will ensure you overcome the technical, marketing, and financial issues you’ll face along the way.