A Guide to Launching Your Ecommerce Business – Part 3By Mike Reilly, February 24th 2020
Ever wanted to start your own online store? Well, with the ecommerce industry seeing the biggest increase of new businesses in the UK out of all other industries; there is no better time than now. In this series, we’ll be exploring the steps you should take to launch your new ecommerce business.
4 Factors To Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business isn't an easy task. There are so many factors to consider – the options seem endless! To help you make the decision, here are some key considerations to keep in mind.
Why Should I Use an Ecommerce Platform?
Ecommerce platforms are there to assist you and your ecommerce efforts. Different platforms have different objectives; some make it easier to manage your orders and deliveries like Despatch Bay, and others are there to help you manage your inventory. Ultimately, they are there to streamline and automate some of your tasks.
For you to compete in the ecommerce industry, having one (or more) of these platforms can really give you the edge over your competitors. Plus, you’ll be saving yourself so much time and effort.
Marketplace and Website Integrations
If you don't already, you should have an idea where you'll be selling your products online: maybe channels like eBay and Amazon, your own website, or both. When looking into ecommerce platforms find out if they integrate with your channels already, if they don't, do they offer an alternative?
We recommend selling on at least one popular marketplace alongside your own website. This allows you to piggyback on the marketplaces’ popularity, thus reaching a larger audience.
Also, does the ecommerce platform help you manage your orders? If so, is it easy to do so? You don't want your order processing to take a lifetime, nor do you need the stress of checking several different channels and running the risk of missing an order by accident. Here are some features to look out for:
- Marketplace Integrations
- API Integration
- CSV Upload
Is There a Support Team?
There's nothing worse than having to tell an automated machine the reason you're calling for the fourth time because it 'didn't quite catch that'. When looking into different platforms, take a look into the support they offer – if any – and the channels they offer it on. It could save you a lot of time in the long run!
Some ecommerce platforms offer 24/7 support, they might have offices worldwide but they might also be using chatbots. Other platforms might provide support during their office hours, but every time you get to speak to a real person.
Weigh up the pros and cons of each platform and decide which is more important for your business. It's also worth mentioning here that some businesses only offer support if you're on a certain tier, or they might add an additional charge to your account, so look out for those.
TrustPilot is a great place to go to get an idea of other peoples’ experiences with a platform. For example, you can check out reviews for Despatch Bay.
Can The Platform Grow With You?
You need to work with a platform that can meet the current needs of your business, but also grow with you in the future. If it doesn't keep up with your demands it will make your life harder, not easier!
You don't want to be paying for features that you won't be using, so there is no point signing up to a platform that goes far beyond your current needs, it'd like buying a transit van for doing your weekly shop!
There are a few pricing models that platforms can adopt, with common approaches being tiered pricing or base rate and transactional pricing.
Tiered pricing models mean you have an arbitrary threshold or limit to the amount of transactions that you can do; which is great if you know exactly how much you are going to sell, but frustrating if you have any fluctuations.
On the other hand, base rate and transactional models don’t particularly have limits, but could end up being costly.
Either way it’s common for platforms to lock you in to contracts for anything from 3 months up to 12, or more. That being said, Despatch Bay never locks you in to a contract, or imposes any threshold limits - you only ever pay for the parcels you send.
Keeping these considerations in mind when choosing an ecommerce platform will simplify the choice for you. If you still have a few platforms to choose between, evaluate their strengths and weakness to find out which will work the best for your ecommerce business.