An eCommerce platform enables you to sell goods and services online. Choosing the right one is key to streamlining your day-to-day sales activities and maximising opportunities for growth. Here's a five step guide to choosing an eCommerce platform.
1. Get clear on your business needs
Start by considering what you need from an online sales platform. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have an existing website for your business you’d like to keep using, with new payment capability?
- Do you want to build a new online store from scratch?
- Will you manage the website yourself, or get a developer to help?
- Will you need to issue invoices or take recurring payments?
- What kind of payments do you want to accept? E.g. specific cards (like American Express, Diners’ Club), digital wallets, mail/phone order transactions
- Do you need same day settlement into your business account?
- How important is security and fraud protection to your business?
2. Know your customers
Make sure you understand where and how your customers shop, and how your business fits into their lives. As you explore the options, ask yourself questions like:
- Is there a smooth checkout experience?
- Do my customers shop on social media? If so, can this platform integrate with my social media accounts?
- What devices (e.g. desktop, mobile) do my customers commonly use? Does the eCommerce platform work well on those devices?
- How do my customers like to pay? Your eCommerce platform could open you up to international customers, so research payment habits in your chosen market (this may be different than the types of payments you’d like to accept)
If you’re a CommBank business customer, you may be able to access free insights to help you better understand your customers through Daily IQ.
3. Build your list of features
Now that you’ve considered your business and customer needs, it’s time to write (and prioritise) a list of features. Some functionality and solutions can come at a cost – so knowing your must-haves and nice-to-haves is a good place to start. Common features to look for include:
- Same day settlement
- Fraud protection
- Invoicing & recurring payments
- Payments over the phone
- Social media integration
- In-built marketing tools
- Highly flexible designs
- Direct payments through API
- Hosted payments
- Shopping cart plug-in
- Virtual terminal (MOTO)
- Digital wallets
- Manage store in app
- Direct debit
- Billing & recurring payments
4. Understand pricing and support
Pricing is an important factor when selecting the right eCommerce platform for your business. Some have fixed monthly costs, others charge fees per transaction. These start-up and ongoing maintenance costs can add up, so it’s important to pick the right plan based on your sales volumes. You might need to pay a separate domain name (the website address for your online store) and hosting fee if it’s not included with your platform.
It’s also worth understanding the initial training and ongoing support the eCommerce platform offers, and whether there are costs involved.
5. Look to the future
It's a good idea to make sure your eCommerce platform can change with your business – adding new features and functionality, or the ability to service increased traffic and sales volumes. Many platforms can automate labour-intensive tasks (like large-scale order processing), saving you time and energy you could use elsewhere. Here are some things to look for:
- Capacity to process a rush of online orders and handle increased customer traffic reliably and securely, e.g. at peak shopping periods like Boxing Day or Black Friday
- Ability to automate programmed tasks like billing, direct debit and recurring payments
- Vigilant security monitoring for suspicious orders based on order size, payment type or country of origin