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Why e-commerce platforms are still relevant

E-commerce platforms will be bigger than ever through the following years, and businesses should consider having one if they still don’t.

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With the prevalence of social media sites nowadays, it appears that businesses no longer have to use e-commerce platforms for selling their products.

Facebook, for example, is already an effective tool for sending and receiving messages from consumers, and what’s even better is that it presents your product photos in ways that allow you to leverage your reach. To market your products via Facebook, you can either solicit likes and shares from friends and followers, or make most of the social media site’s advertising services (which you can either pay based on impressions or number of people reached). Plus, with your growing number of followers on the site, it seems that you don’t have to do any more work–rather than, of course, update your profile or timeline regularly to remain relevant on your audience’s feed.

According to data from eMarketer in 2013, B2C e-commerce sales had surpassed the $3 million mark in 2012. Forrester Research, meanwhile, published some interesting figures that year as well: In its forecast, the e-commerce news source revealed that consumers will be shopping more via e-commerce sites between 2011 and 2016.

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Which platform should you use for your business?

Business owners can choose from two options, according to a report on Forbes.com: hosted or self-hosted. Hosted platforms are those hosted by a third-party company, which will basically handle everything from start to finish, while self-hosted means the third-party company will provide you a software to use on your own site, and some level of support. Some versions of these platforms are open source, which means they are free to use. Those that are free, however, doesn’t mean they are not at par with paid ones.

With e-commerce itself growing at a tremendous pace, it’s no longer a question of whether you should use an e-commerce platform; it’s about implementing one. (Source)

According to the article, examples of hosted platforms include Shopify, Volusion, and BigCommerce. Those that are self-hosted meanwhile are Magento and WooCommerce. For its recommended platforms, the article, penned by All Business, promoted Shopify and WooCommerce for their customizable interface, easy to use features, and a wide range of add-ons. On the other hand, it advises against using Magento for its complicated interface and slow performance. (Interestingly, Magento remains to be one of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the web—its Community edition, in fact, supports over 200,000 businesses and counting.)

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What things should you consider when choosing one?

When picking an e-commerce platform, the first thing you should consider, needless to say, is budget. E-commerce platforms can set you back for $29 per month to $15,000 annually. Furthermore, some e-commerce platforms only let you pay for the monthly costs, but some also take commissions from each sale you make. There are also e-commerce platforms that offer discounts, free add-ons, and loyalty programs, so you may want to consider those as well.

Next is the point-of-sale: does the platform offer an easy payment system for customers and does it allow you to monitor and retrieve these payments easily? Does it also allow you to incorporate shipping carriers with ease?

Last but not the least is functionality. Is the e-commerce platform easy to use? Does the platform offer a wide range of templates that you can implement? Does it also allow you to access your store when you’re on the go? Should you encounter problems, does the platform offer competent customer support?

It depends on your business needs as to what platform you’ll be comfortable with. As varying opinions on the web have revealed, some platforms may be clunky or not user-friendly, which some people don’t mind at all. Some, on the other hand, are just seamless in terms of user interface and functionalities. One thing is certain, however: You cannot afford to lose from your competitors in the e-commerce game, and using an e-commerce platform should be part of your sales and marketing strategy to scale your business.

For more enterprise web solutions and advice, visit the official website of IT Craft—a technology firm based out of Ukraine. IT Craft is a global leader in software development and web solutions with 14 years of solid experience under its belt. The company is renowned in over 16 countries for empowering businesses with cutting-edge web and mobile application technologies.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Dominique Einhorn is a French-American business man who began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19, engaging himself in the import and export of nutritional supplements. He founded the Born2Invest brand under advertising technology firm, M6 Limited, and is involved in its day-to-day operations. Dom pens features on marketing, technology, as well as alternative investments.

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