Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform Part 1: What is an e-commerce platform and why do you need one?

Date: July 01, 2019

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What is an e-commerce platform and why do you need one?

The right e-commerce platform does more than power your online store. It can power your small business with a competitive edge in the increasingly crowded market. Here’s how to choose the best e-commerce platform for you.

Whether you’re running an online business or expanding an existing brick and mortar online for the first time, using an e-commerce platform can take your sales – and your brand presence – to the next level. That’s why choosing the best e-commerce platform for you is important. It’s as vital to your growth strategy as having the right products and reaching the right customers.

How does an e-commerce platform help small business growth? Just think about all the reasons customers abandon carts, from slow load times and site crashes to cumbersome checkout processes and inconvenient payment options. The right e-commerce platform can accelerate your online success. It can create a friction-free shopping experience that stands out from the crowd and builds customer loyalty. And behind the scenes, it can help make all of the steps between an order placement and its arrival at your customer’s doorstep seamless and stress-free for you.

Not every e-commerce business owner has the design or tech skills to create their own online store. Marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy make it easy to begin selling and are good places to start. They often remain an important channel for small businesses even after they expand to selling through multiple channels, thanks to their built-in audience and wide reach.

But eventually, most small-business owners find they need the flexibility and control of having their own online store. After all, your store is the face of your business. You want it to reflect your brand. And ultimately, you need it to be easy for you and your customers to use.

This is where e-commerce platforms come in. Most small-business owners choose a turnkey platform as the foundation of their online store. Many of these platforms are very flexible and can grow with your business. However, some online sellers with more specialized or complex needs choose to create a customized platform.

Each platform has a different combination of features (including accounting, inventory control, fulfillment, marketing, and many more). The difference is in the details, so search for the features and tools that make sense for your needs now and as you expand. Some popular platforms include Shopify®, WooCommerce®, Magento®, BigCommerce®, and Volusion®.

As you dig into your e-commerce platform choices, remember the right platform saves you time and effort later. Having the information you need up front is important in making an informed decision, and the right platform will serve you longer as you scale up and your business grows.

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