Setting up and implementing a retail endeavor over the Internet or otherwise known as ecommerce has forever changed the nature of retailing. Since the Web became accessible to the greater public, there have been many iterations of the sales store online. While some have taken it to the max (Amazon, Alibaba for example) many of the rest of those companies who wish to have an effective presence online have been trying to solve this economic puzzle for years to mitigating success. The advent of the more advanced digital technology has enabled small businesses to run their company more efficiently and profitably. By keeping their fingers on the pulse of technological innovations, small businesses can increase their productivity as well as their market share.
The barrier to entry in retail-oriented endeavors is fast becoming smaller as more entrepreneurs choose the internet over storefronts. Early adopters of the technology have made ecommerce a key component of the daily operations of their business. No matter how you and your business have tried their hand to this online selling business, there are some tried and true ways to go about it that will save you time, money, and tons of headaches by choosing the best platform to sell online. Your business can achieve new levels of success with a consistent and effective presence.
Benefit of Selling Online
The benefits are simple and well-known. Ecommerce allows for speedy buying/selling, as well as easy finding the best product selections. Online stores today stay up and running 24/7, allowing customers to get online at any time of the day and buy products and services. All these irrespective where in the world your customers might be. This has led to more and more customers moving from the traditional brick and mortar store to buying goods and services on the Internet.
Doing all this effectively is the next question you need to have on your list, but it can still beat the troubles of having brick and mortar stores to reach customers. Selling online will help you cut across the many challenges that come with opening more physical outlets to grow your business. This includes choosing locations, hiring more staff, putting in more capital for the expansions, and not to mention managing the risk of not generating enough revenues to keep them up and running. By simply putting your store online, you can increase sales and your reach without experiencing the growing pains that come with expansion.
Whether you have one or the other, the wisest choice for doing business in today’s marketplace is to have both, and have equal and complementary efforts for the brick and mortar location as you do with your online shopping catalog.
Additionally, you will have access to a range of tools to analyze every aspect of your online store. With these tools, you can design customized online experiences for your customers and maximize the ROI of your marketing spend. The technologies also help to cut costs across the board by automating customer relationship management, inventory management, transactions and more.
How to Get Started
The first step is to get your business its very own website. If you haven’t already done this there are three tiers of website custom-ability. FIRST – The Closed Systems Website Platforms; SECOND – Open Source Website Platforms; THIRD – Custom coding and programming.
The first tier gets you a quicker setup but usually has severe restrictions on usability, accessibility and creativity.
The second tier allows you to gain the looks and feels you want, functionality, usability, accessibility, and creativity are wide open without having a heavy programming presence.
The third tier is the “sky’s the limit” version, but also should your pocketbook. Programming involves coders, testing, and time, which only the largest companies can afford.
Once you have decided a website is what is needed you then can incorporate an online shopping platform and social media accounts to further boost your sales. We’ll touch on each tier briefly to help you which tier you want to begin, or stick with.
Tier One – Closed System Platforms
The key to all these is to find an e-commerce website builder or platform that lets you build, customize, and run an online store.
These particular first-tier platforms come with tools to walk you through the entire process of setting up your ecommerce venture. They will help you navigate through the steps involved such as hosting, design, pricing and payment options, marketing tools and reports. For those who aren’t programming or creatively inclined and who are trying to do a website themselves while also running the company these below are decent options.
It is also true that there are a great many web design agencies that can specialize in getting you the right look and feel that your company desires and that can make them look and function once you are on them like an open-source website.
The biggest problem with all of these closed system solutions is that if you are in any way needing something outside of their “box” it is not in the least an option for you to try. If you need to use a payment gateway they don’t have, a tool that you need that they haven’t coded, or a certain functionality they haven’t developed, you, your business and your customers are sure out of luck. There is no middle ground to be had with them at all. Which in my book out-weighs the ease of creation they offer.
Lastly, for branding and SEO purposes these closed systems short-change you because more often times than not you have to have their name in your domain URL… which circumvents SEO advantages for you (redirects of URL’s don’t count for Google) and cuts into your branding for a direct domain name.
Perhaps Shopify is one of the best options for small businesses. The company provides simple, elegant, easy-to-use software for online retailers. Shopify’s platform is not only for online sales but also serves as a Point Of Sale (POS) as well.
Shopify offers a platform for merchants to create a multi-channel experience that helps showcase your brand. This subscription platform allows you to create a website and use their shopping cart solution to sell, ship, and manage your products.
BigCommerce is similar to Shopify. The platform offers an extensive set of e-commerce tools to help you build your website. You also have the opportunity to integrate social media into your site and sell your products through those channels.
Among its huge selling points is it gives you a range of shipping options. You can get real-time shipping quotes, offer free shipping to your customers, and print shipping labels, all with its third-party integrations.
Wix Ecommerce enables small businesses with less than 50 unique products to create beautifully designed websites. It offers simple and easy to create a website by using a drag and drop theme. You can add and remove features as you see fit for your business. This makes it easy for you to create your customized storefront without the need to code.
Additionally, the sites are optimized for mobile display, have SSL certificates, and users can tag their pages for SEO optimization. Wix can sync with Google calendar where businesses can send confirmation emails and reminders with bookings which can also be made through Wix’s mobile app.
Squarespace is a good option for small businesses looking for online store design solutions. It comes with sleek templates that help to draw attention to your products, and are easy to customize. Its inventory system and analytical tools are also some of the attractive features. Its built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features, can help increase your site’s visibility in the results pages of Google and other search engines.
The online store template is fully customizable, you can use one of its expert designs as a baseline and edit it to match your brand colors and style. Once you’re signed in to your Squarespace dashboard, you can change the fonts, colors, buttons, and even the margins of your website
With Squarespace you can give coupon offers, shipping configurations, and manage your email lists, thus, giving you complete control over your website.
Weebly is an intuitive, easy-to-use platform for integrating eCommerce features. With Weebly, you can choose from 40 plus responsive themes. The themes look good on any device so you can drive your eCommerce sales even on mobile.
Among its key selling points include a mobile store with checkout, filtered queries and product search, coupon codes, multiple payment gateway choices, multiple shipping options, digital and physical products, inventory management, and more.
Created in 1999 Volusion is perhaps one of the oldest website builders for e-commerce around. Its strengths lie in its analytics and data tools. The major drawbacks are its limited features and the editing interface is split between the storefront (what your customers see) and the back-end. Forcing you to constantly click from one to the other to see changes.
It does however boast a superb analytics tool. The search term analysis lets you see what customers are actually looking for on Google. This comes in handy for businesses who want to track what people want and tailor their website to get more prospects. In addition, the mobile app lets you manage your store on the go.
Tier Two – Best Platforms to Sell Online
The open-source option, which is the best option for most businesses, large and small to utilize will give you the opportunity to get the functionality that you want and the options your customers want to have from you without a lot of hustle and coding issues. All the functionalities are available in this tier as you saw in the first, it just requires you (if you are doing it personally) or those you hire to have a bit more creativity. The Open source system is called WordPress and was originally developed to help out the blogging community. It soon morphed into a place where, if you got the right theme, pre-programmed with the options you wanted, would allow someone to put up their products and services online with general ease.
Additional functionalities are available, as they arise for you and your company, via plugins that are additional code, wrapped in a Plugin Package that perform the functions you want to, or need to have. These plugins range widely, and are not all created equal, however, by using a WordPress based website, you are giving your company the best chance of success online. Functionality, Scalability, and Profitability are huge pluses for tier two.
WooCommerce a plugin for WordPress. Unlike other platforms, WooCommerce is an open-source solution. Meaning it is free for personal and commercial use. You can install and start using it immediately. However, if you are looking for robust support such as a domain, hosting, email, and other options you will have to consider additional expenses.
This is a very user-friendly plugin which you can use to quickly develop a website. In addition to the Woocommerce community that comes with a lot of support you also have a wide assortment of plugins and extensions to enhance your online store. In terms of payment, it can accommodate bank transfers, cheques, cash on delivery, and PayPal.
Magento is an eCommerce platform from Adobe that is popular among retailers. While the platform’s software is free to download, it will require a developer experience to really include features for a robust e-commerce experience. In addition, you will have to independently look for a web hosting provider.
Its lean version is available as an open-source. The open-source is not too user-friendly compared to the competition. This is because the actual setup and customization process can be difficult and require experience in web development. For those seeking full-fledged support, Magento Commerce is the way to go. Its Commerce feature is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution offering additional features and services at a much higher price.
However, it is packed with lots of features retailers appreciate. It has all tools you need for your marketing, SEO, catalog management, analytics, checkout, shipping, and more.
Tier Three – Custom Coding and Programming
This tier is the most inaccessible of the three and the most expensive. Usually using proprietary programming (JSP, ASP, etc.) these solutions are used for the likes of government websites and large worldwide conglomerates. Those that are in this line of work, agencies, and individual programmers do not come cheap. For your average business out there, this only becomes a viable option when your sales volumes are able to match and exceed the cost of putting your business online with this type of specialized expertise.
Choosing Right for the Success of Your Website
Despite the availability of several platforms for your e-commerce, the key to your success lies on getting the right fit. Beyond the platform that is chosen and the products you place upon it, there are several key components you need to have to even have a chance of getting revenues into your website. Just by the mere fact you made the website and put it live to everyone that anyone will be able to see it. With the millions of websites and the trillions of pages out there, you must be able to drive people to that website you have your wares on.
A selling website needs to have the Ecommerce tools that bring those eyes to the site, keep them there, and get them to follow through with the Calls to Action you want them to do (give info, submit a request, purchase a product etc.).
Here’s where FigPay becomes the source you need for online success with our Complete Ecommerce Suite, the FigPay360 Solution that gains you the ability to assist in getting the customers you want, add to the confidence they want from you to do business and to capture the sales in which you seek for them to make.
Here’s what you receive when you connect FigPay360 to your ecommerce website:
- Wholesale Merchant Processing Utilizing Reliable Revenues Procurement – Nothing can be transacted, no product delivered, no service provided unless the money for such has been successfully transferred. When a company has the ability to take multiple forms of payment (credit, debit, etc.) on their website reliably and not having to pay extra for that online convenience is a win-win in anybody’s book. Having the right Merchant Account and Card Processing abilities are a must for any ecommerce efforts to be successful.
- Reputation Management System Consisting of Proper Reputation Positioning – The impulse to look up a business has shifted from the now-defunct Yellow pages to bringing up a browser and looking them up on Google. Their Google My Business listings come to be a huge factor in what potential customers find out about the company. Your Reputation Management must be robust to be able to bring in those looking for you in your own “backyard”.
- Website Security Seal to Secure the Platform to Transact – Data breaches and hacking of the financial data has unfortunately become a common occurrence, the better you equip your site with SSL Certified encryption and PCI measures the better you are able to protect the data, and grow the confidence of your customers to do business with you, and do it more often.
- Onsite Customer Reviews which Build Confidence – When someone receive an unsolicited testimonial or review about a product or service item, they give to it more weight than if it was in a commercial or promotion piece. Having verified, real-time customers providing those recommendations again builds on that confidence on doing business with a company online.
- Shopping Cart Abandonment Sales Assist Strategies – Cart abandonment is the number one concern and the point of the sale process where merchants lose the revenue. There are several strategies that are available to re-engage the customer and rescue the sale. Instead of recommitting them to do business with you, you can remind them what they want to buy from you.
Only Available on Tier Two
FigPay360 has been developed to help those companies that are online and want to get to that Next Level. That with better functionality that Open Source WordPress provides, that a company can scale its efforts towards the profitability they have set for their online presence. The closed systems aren’t an option, because we are outside of their box and the custom programming have different issues they are tackling.
This Complete Ecommerce Suite is precisely designed to help that company online have what they need so sales and revenue from what they have online is achievable. Don’t miss out on getting and taking advantage of each component of FigPay360.