Setting up your small business online: Part 2 E-Commerce isn’t really that simple

So you have registered your domain and picked out a hosting service. Now you’d like to sell something. Here’s where you can have so many options and it’s hard to tell what might be a really good fit.

One of the things I pride myself on is being able to explain complex systems to people who get bogged down in “tech-speak” and trust me the world of web-design is full of “tech-speak”, but the reality is that all of this is a lot easier than what you read on the internet. (go figure, you can’t believe everything you read!).

One recent article I read had this criteria:

  • Pricing and Payment – back in the “bad old days” you used to have to work with a gateway. This was usually cumbersome and complicated to program as well as expensive. These days with PayPal, Venmo, Square and other quick and easy payment methods, this becomes fairly simple. If your E-commerce solution doesn’t use one of these, then chances are your whole system is outdated.
  • Integrations – again, in the bad old days you needed a programmer. There are so many store options and all of them are easy to integrate into a website. This is one of the reasons I prefer WordPress because they have gone out of their way to work with all of the available shopping cart options to create a seamless shopping experience:
    1. Shopify
    2. ECWID
    3. Squarespace
    4. Woocommerce
  • SEO Friendliness: Really? All of the new solutions cover SEO. The hard news is that SEO is plain hard work. You need to marketing your store, just like a brick and mortar store and get out and bring in the right customers. There is no magic wand to SEO and no self-respecting E-commerce platform wouldn’t have some tools built in. This is not a major concern at this point.
  • Mobile Friendliness: Again, really? All good sites are mobile friendly. If they’re not then you’re working with really really old solutions and you need to dump it and start over. All newer shopping carts are mobile friendly and have different settings to let you customize how it looks on mobile. If it doesn’t, again, your system is old.
  • Customer Service: This is your job – not your sites. Now granted, there should be a decent way to reach you, links to email, help, customer service numbers etc and the “flow” of the shopping cart should be logical. However, unless you’re dealing with an older clientele or people who are never on the internet, then most people understand how to shop online.
  • Security: So, again, this is old. Almost every new shopping cart doesn’t have you taking customers sensitive information – they will send them to a gateway (PayPal, Square whatever) and it’s their responsibility to keep their information safe. If you’re taking people’s information then highly question your system – it’s NOT good. 
  • Scalability: This is where I think most people make mistakes. Lets say you have a craft product that sells on Etsy, but you hope to grow your business. Be sure to look at the capabilities of each platform before you decide to jump in. I’ve seen way too many clients commit to a costly or complicated system only to have to change it 6 months later. It helps to get input from someone (shameless self-promotion – like myself) help you navigate which option might be best for your company in the long run.

To come – more about each of the e-commerce platforms…..

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