The ecommerce market is a multi-billion dollar industry in Australia with reports estimating it will bring in revenue of $43.21 billion in 2023. With more than three-quarters of Australians shopping online, it is ripe with opportunity for businesses of all sizes to connect with customers nationwide and abroad.
However, to succeed it is critical for businesses to get the foundations right. Ecommerce platforms like Shopline have helped to democratise the industry and empower anyone to build their own ecommerce business successfully.
Not all platforms are created equally though. Each has their own nuances and some are less forthcoming about things like the hidden extra costs that come with choosing their platforms.
With this in mind, it is important to consider a number of factors that will influence your choice in ecommerce platforms before you sign your store away to something that does not meet your business needs.
Here are five questions to help you choose the right platform.
Are you a start-up ecommerce store? Or perhaps a more established retailer not satisfied with your current ecommerce platform? Whatever the reason, this is the first question you should look at answering as it will guide you throughout the rest of the process and inform the functions you will require.
For example, if you are starting a brand new business, you may opt for a platform with a lower-cost package offering more basic features to begin with. On the other hand, those more established retailers looking to migrate from their existing platform to another like Shopline, might seek to find a platform that solves its current challenges. This challenge could be related to something as simple as site speed or could be due to a lack of integration with the rest of your tech stack – but more on that later.
Most platforms have additional functions and applications available on top of the base package which allows retailers to customise their online store based on what they need. These can be both paid and free pending the application and the platform.
One of the great benefits of applications is that they can be switched on or off to add functions to the site. For example with Shopline, we offer apps for SEO tools, site speed boosters, digital marketing, memberships, product reviews and order invoice customisation for B2B merchants.
Consider what applications would be most beneficial to your business. Does the platform have them? And if so, are they an added cost or free? Would you be willing to pay for it? These answers may even vary as your business grows.
As with everything in your business, it is critical to work out what the budget is for your online store. While the overheads are dramatically cheaper in ecommerce than traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, they are still a cost and can start to stack up if you’re not careful.
Most ecommerce platforms will offer you different packages to meet the needs and budget you have. At Shopline we offer Starter, Essential and Premium packages to cater for every need.
One thing to note though is what is included in the packages. For example some platforms charge extra for premium applications that you may wish to use. Look for the best value that offers more applications for free, otherwise these will additional costs you will need to incur.
As I alluded to above, integration is a major challenge for many larger retailers. Over the last few years, retailers have accrued a lot in their tech stack and much of it ends up going to waste or living in a silo. As retailers look to streamline their operations, the focus is shifting from quantity to quality.
If you are working with other tech, such as a point-of-sale (POS) system or logistics software, look for ecommerce platforms that integrate with that product (or better still, offer them as part of the package!). This will enable them to talk to one another and ensure seamless operations throughout the business.
What are your long-term plans for the business? Whatever the plan, as your business grows and new trends emerge in ecommerce, you will need a platform that can grow and adapt with you.
Find a platform that not only offers scaled packages but can also withstand the growth in products and visitors to the site. The last thing you want is your site to crash as it does not have the bandwidth or to come up against other roadblocks that hinder sales.
Security is paramount when handling sensitive customer data and transactions. Ensure your chosen platform offers:
Additionally, assess the level of customer support provided by the platform. Quick and effective support can be a lifesaver when facing technical issues or downtime. Are there additional charges for accessing support? How long will it take to reach a customer support agent?
When it comes to selecting an ecommerce platform to work with, just like with any partner, it comes down to finding the right fit. By asking yourself the five questions above you will be able to ascertain what your needs are and find the right partner of choice – and we hope that right partner is us, Shopline.
Shopline is Asia's leading unified ecommerce platform, serving as the trusted solution for over 500,000 retailers globally. Like to know more? Reach out to us today to arrange your demo: https://au.shopline.com/
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