- Mar 15, 2017
- by Brad Litwin
Selecting the right e-commerce platform can be a nerve-wracking decision. Whether you’ve decided to go with a hosted or self-hosted solution, you’ll need to deal with the platform you choose on a regular basis over the long term. Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re confident in your decision.
Fortunately for you, there’s no need to guess when it comes to selecting the right platform. As long as you keep an eye out for the most important criteria, you’ll be able to choose the perfect solution for your unique needs.
In this article, we’ll explore four qualities every e-commerce platform should possess, explain why they’re important, and give you a few recommendations for each. To kick things off, let’s talk about budgets!
1. It Adjusts to Your Budget
When it comes to picking the right platform, you shouldn’t need to start your search at the bargain bin or the luxury section. The best platforms will adjust to your budget by providing you with a wide variety of plans – or configurations – to power both small stores and major online retailers.
This kind of flexibility is important because it enables you to pick the best platform for your needs based on quality rather than price. If you’re just starting off, you probably don’t want to spend too much money setting up an online store while you learn the ropes of the business. The right platform will enable you to start off small and upgrade as you expand.
When it comes to this criteria, we’re big fans of WooCommerce. If you’re a WordPress user, it’s definitely worth giving this platform a try, as it won’t put a big dent in your budget (unless you use expensive extensions!). If you’re not using WordPress, you might want to check out PrestaShop – an open-source platform that can go toe-to-toe with WooCommerce thanks to its modern style and ease of use.
Both of these platforms share one thing in common – they’re self-hosted. That means you’re free to set them up on any web host you want, and your expenses will depend on the type of plan you choose. For the best possible results, you should also consider using a host that provides plans tailored to online stores.
2. It Keeps Data Secure
Protecting their customer’s information has always been a priority for online retailers, but never more so than now. Online sales are more ubiquitous than ever, which means that for your store to succeed, it needs to keep your customers’ data secure.
Using an unsecured platform could lead to catastrophic scenarios, such as the theft of your users’ personal information. If you run a small e-commerce operation, this is the kind of breach of trust you may never recover from.
As far as security goes, few companies take it as seriously as Magento does. The open-source platform may not be renowned for its ease of use, but it’s got all the features you need to run a successful online store. Furthermore, Magento routinely releases standalone security patches, which will help you keep data safe.
Hosted e-commerce platforms such as these two usually have a solid track record when it comes to security. This is because users don’t need to apply updates manually or implement third-party solutions to close vulnerabilities. It’s all taken care of by experienced developers, who have an obvious incentive to keep everyone’s data safe.
3. It’s Fast
One feature that most popular e-commerce websites share is they are quick to load. This enables users to get through their shopping quickly with minimal frustration.
An extra second here and there might not seem like a big deal when it comes to loading times, but research says otherwise. Slow loading pages will often lead to higher bounce rates and fewer conversions, and they can even impact your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It goes without saying this is not a position you want your online store to find itself in.
If you’re using a self-hosted e-commerce platform, your choice of hosting provider will profoundly influence its performance. That’s why you need to opt for web hosting that has a solid track record when it comes to site speed, such as our own.
For those of you who don’t want to worry about choosing the right provider, we’d recommend that you go with a hosted option such as Shopify. This platform may not provide as many features as its self-hosted brothers, but its functionality can be extended with apps, and it’s blazing fast.
BigCommerce also scores well when it comes to loading times, although its results aren’t as consistent as Shopify’s. Regardless, both platforms are very similar when it comes to features, so either one is a good pick if you’re concerned about performance.
4. It’s Easy to Use
A well-made e-commerce platform shouldn’t require you to spend countless hours trying to figure out how to use it correctly. It should be intuitive enough for new users to manage on their own without too much fuss.
There are plenty of platforms that fit these criteria and others that don’t. We recommend users opt for the former due to the following reasons:
- An easy-to-use platform will enable you to get your store up and running sooner.
- You won’t need to hire a developer to help you configure everything.
- When issues arise, you may be able to troubleshoot them yourself.
When it comes to overall ease of use, two platforms stand out for us. The first is WooCommerce, which is ideal for WordPress users.
If you’d rather go with a hosted option, Shopify also benefits from a gentle learning curve. Furthermore, it also happens to be great when it comes to performance and security, as we mentioned earlier.
Choosing the perfect e-commerce platform is not something that should be done lightly. However, there’s no need to fret over your decision as long as you take the most important criteria into consideration. This way, you’ll find the perfect platform and ensure your online store reaches its full potential.
Let’s briefly recap the four most important qualities to consider when selecting an e-commerce platform:
- It adjusts to your budget.
- It keeps data secure.
- It’s fast.
- It’s easy to use.
In addition to the ones we have covered here, there are many more e-commerce platforms available – whichever platform you decide to use, A2 Hosting has got you covered.
Image credit: Pixabay.