What is an eCommerce Platform?
An eCommerce platform or online store builder is a software application enabling store owners to create and manage a website through which they can sell their products or services. Such platforms offer predesigned templates, meaning you can build a beautiful and efficient eCommerce site without the need for web development or design skills.
Why use an eCommerce Platform?
In addition to taking care of the development and design work for you, eCommerce platforms offer a range of built-in features to streamline the management of your online business. Most platforms include free web hosting and domain purchase and registration – two crucial elements to getting your online store up and running. The best eCommerce platforms – such as Volusion and Shopify – enable you to manage inventory, transactions and shipping from within the platform. In addition, these platforms also offer built-in systems for managing your marketing channels, sales reporting and a range of integrations to help you expand your store’s online presence.
How to Choose the Best eCommerce Platform for You
With so many features on offer, how can you tell which online store builder is right for you? Firstly, check each platforms’ plans. Billed monthly or annually, it is not only important to check the platforms’ prices are within budget, but that there is room to upgrade the platform’s service (hosting options, integrations, additional marketing features etc.) as your business grows. In addition, we encourage you to check the following features when comparing the platforms, to help narrow down the best option for you:
- Customization options – to what extent can you manipulate predesigned templates (or create your own site design) to produce the look you want for your website. How easy is it to edit your site? Does the platform offer a simple, drag-and-drop editor?
- Inventory management – how simple is it to upload product details, manage inventory levels and more.
- Payment integrations offered by the platform, such as PayPal, Stripe, credit card and more.
- Integrations with eCommerce sites such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy, where you may already be selling your products.
- Integrations with 3rd party apps to add further functionality to your website, such as dropshipping apps, CRM management, social media and more.
- Customer support options in case you need assistance building your site.
- SEO capabilities and additional eCommerce marketing features such as the ability to create coupons, discounts and promotions directly through the platform.
Don’t forget, many of the top eCommerce platforms offer a free trial period, giving you peace of mind before making the final decision.