Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Choose an E-commerce Platform

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hello creative biz owners!

Choosing an e-commerce platform is like choosing the best piece from the box of chocolates! There are different flavors and you want to make sure that the one you put in your mouth will give you the best taste! The one that melts in your mouth with the right flavor!

E-commerce is not a piece of chocolate, no. But when you select your platform, it is like selecting the right piece that will satisfy you. Although in this case, your selling needs as an entrepreneur of an online store.

I was 18 years old in college when I first became an entrepreneur. I registered a company and started providing fabric painting on clothing service to couture houses and boutique owners, and also sold some of my own work too. At that time, with the very little knowledge about blogging, blogshop or online business, I could only rely on consignment arrangement with shops and tattoo parlours, and relied on word-of-mouth. Business was excellent but eventually I had to slow it down because of the lack of resources- an online store to reach out to a wider audience. Looking back, I really wish I could have the chance of building my own online store, but with the little knowledge and budget, there wasn't much for me.

Today, more and more companies are coming up with e-commerce platforms, giving every individual the chance to experience what it's like to OWN a store. However, each and every business owner has different requirements. It really depends on their nature of business and selecting the right platform can be tricky.

Nonetheless, there are a few things to look for when it comes to choosing the right platform. Remember, you want the BEST taste, the BEST flavor, not too sweet though or else it will be overwhelming!

Eventually years later, I started my biz again and this time through a blog. From there I learn my requirements and what to look for when it comes to signing up with the right e-commerce platform. I definitely don't mind sharing it with you here. Here's my take on what to look for in an e-commerce platform:

1. Usability

Making sure that your e-commerce platform is user-friendly is very important. Not just for yourself to understand and to use, but for your customers/visitors too. Can you imagine how it will make your customers/visitors feel if the site is complicated? Even as a user yourself, you would be turn off too if certain things on the platform is difficult, such as photo uploading, weird photo size requirements, lots of details to fill up, and more. I have come across one myself that I found undeniably complicated!

2. Layout / Available Design Templates

This is one of the most important thing I look into when I am selecting a platform. I want to know if the "free" templates provided are presentable or simple yet attractive. As I have mentioned before in one of my previous post, a store's image is very important. Just like when selecting a piece of chocolate, you would choose the one that is attractive looking, not the one that is melted and squashed!

3. Features

Look out for features when you are selecting the best platform. These are EXTRA stuff, like caramel melting in your mouth or honeycomb crumbling on your tongue. These extra features can help you with expanding your online biz or making things easier for you to promote yourself. Or it can be in the form of providing international currency feature so that you can sell to your overseas customers.

4. Room for Improvement

Make sure you choose a company that continuously improve themselves in their e-commerce platform service. When a company improve and expands themselves, as customers/users yourself, you will benefit from this too. It can be in the simplest thing such as, new fresh templates, new features, etc.

5. Pricing

In this competitive world, especially in the business world, everyone's trying to come up with the best price. They want to sweep your feet away even before you putting that piece of chocolate in your mouth. When selecting a platform, try to look for the best deal/offer. Do your calculations and make your comparison of the features provided, and check with yourself, do you have this amount of cash to pay every month? Are you able to cover your costs? Things like that can help you make better decisions instead of impulsively commit yourself to a service that doesn't meet your expectations.

6. Efficient Customer Service and Assistance

I don't know about you, but I think that this is one of the most important element that I often look out for. I always prioritize in making sure that if I do sign up with a platform, as a new user, I want to be able to enquire with a personnel and get answers as well. It's just like walking into a store, and you want to be able to check with a sales person about a certain product; and you get frustrated when the sales person is unsure or seem care-less about your inquiries. So, do make sure that the customer service/assistance is efficient when you are signing up with the company. A good customer service will definitely make your stay with them worthwhile.

My tips and advices are usually a little different from the rest. This is because I tend to see things in detail, or perhaps just happen to notice the things that others usually over look. I hope that with this 6 simple tips, you would be able to check out the best simplified and user-friendly platform anyone can ever have.

Happy hunting!

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