If you’re setting out to build a successful eCommerce business, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is the online selling platform. Your choice of platform depends on a few different issues, like what type of products you’ll be selling, what your tech skills are like, and the payment processing options you need.
So depending on the situation you’re in, you might be best off with an all-in-one online selling platform for knowledge products, or you might want to aim for a social media channel with integrated shopping functionality. Or maybe both, plus a few more.
But there are also some features, like a custom domain name and built-in marketing tools, that are critical for every eCommerce business’s primary storefront but aren’t offered by every online sales platform.
We’ve reviewed the 11 things to look for in an online selling platform to help you choose the best one for your eCommerce business.
1. Ease of Use
Just because you’re a talented photographer, writer, or businessman, it doesn’t mean you’re also a talented web designer and programmer. You want an eCommerce platform that’s easy to use and doesn’t require any technical expertise.
There are plenty of online selling platforms with a drag and drop interface, so you don’t need to write a word of code, just select the elements you want on your webpage and drop them in the right place.
2. Plenty of Design Options
Your eCommerce business is unique. You certainly don’t want it to look like every other eCommerce store on the internet. That’s why you want an online selling platform that has plenty of design and customization options, with lots of different themes and templates to choose from.
You want to be able to change the fonts, layout, color scheme – everything, in fact – so that you can create an original online store that reflects your USP.
3. Custom Domain Name
Possibly the single most important thing to look for in online selling platforms is one that allows you to use your own custom domain name. This means that your web address will be YourOnlineStore.com, and not YourOnlineStore/GenericSellingPlatform.com.
Having your own domain name gives you the flexibility to move to a different online selling platform or to build your own website at some point down the line, so you won’t be tied into just one platform indefinitely.
4. Integrated Blogging Platform
Having a blog is the number one tip for all digital marketing. It isn’t easy, but if done right, it helps you to boost your SEO and attracts visitors to your online store. Hopefully, they’ll come for your valuable content, and stay to buy your digital products.
An integrated blogging platform makes it easy to link your blog with your online store, so you can set up plenty of pipelines to channel visitors to your shopping pages.
5. Built-in Marketing Tools
The best online selling platforms have built-in marketing tools to help you grow your business without having to step off the platform. SEO settings that allow you to manage your own meta descriptions, alt image tags, and page titles are just the beginning.
Look for platforms that include email marketing, marketing analytics, marketing automation, and other marketing tools so that you can track your visitor journey, set up marketing funnels, create webinars, videos, and other marketing content, and quickly offer promotions, sales, and events to boost your marketing presence.
6. Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
This one entirely depends on your preference. Online selling platforms that include website hosting can save you money, hassle, and effort setting up your eCommerce site.
But if you’re looking for more customization and greater control, and you have some tech knowledge, you might prefer a self-hosted eCommerce platform.
7. Payment Processing
Different online selling platforms have different built-in payment options. If it’s important for you to be able to accept a particular payment type, like ApplePay or Google Wallet, make sure to pick a platform that supports it.
Check the conditions and fees for payment options, too. You might find that certain types of payments have much higher fees than others. If most of your customers pay by credit card, for example, you don’t want to have to pay 3% commission every time you make a sale.
8. Product Creation Tools
There are some online selling platforms that include tools to help you create your digital products. If you’re selling eBooks, graphics, or online courses, for example, look for options that allow you to create, store, market, and sell your digital products all on the same platform.
It saves you a headache building, transferring, and saving your items.
There’s no such thing as a free online selling platform, but the way that you pay for it can be extremely important. It’s usually best to look for a platform that charges a single monthly or annual fee for your eCommerce business, rather than one which charges a commission on every sale.
Check what’s included in the price – some platforms charge extra for things like a blog engine, custom domain names, or marketing tools. You don’t want any hidden fees, so make sure that everything is out in the open.
10. Types of Products
The best online selling platform for your eCommerce business also depends on the types of products you’re selling.
Some platforms are best for digital products, with plenty of options for downloading and large digital storage limits. Others are ideal for dropshipping or for selling products from your home or warehouse. You’ll want slightly different tools and a slightly different interface depending on your product needs.
The Best Online Selling Platform Dies Exist
Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent online selling platforms to choose from for your eCommerce business.
That might make it a little hard to choose, but with this information, you should be able to find a platform that matches your needs and makes it easy for you to focus on growing your eCommerce business.