The ecommerce revolution which swept the world by storm, has fundamentally transformed the way consumers look for products, compare features and prices and shop.
This change triggered massive shockwaves which impacted a broad range of B2C and B2B market sectors.
As modern e-commerce solutions are becoming more affordable, innovative and user-friendly, an increasing number of traditional retailers, established brick-and-mortar store owners and small businesses seek to capitalize on the growing presence of online shopping in the global economy.
In addition, the modern digital marketplace offers new opportunities for aspiring merchants, startups, entrepreneurs and even individuals with brilliant ideas who wish to start a new retail business on the World Wide Web.
Ecommerce website builders and shopping cart software applications offer comprehensive solutions that enable businesses to design, create, and operate a shopping site, through which they can sell products and services independently online.
These systems manage all aspects of the website’s functions such as product catalog, order management, inventory management, pricing, content management, promotions, payment processing, tax calculation, analysis of shopper activity, customer support and more.
In the past, starting a new internet store required hiring a web developer that would custom build the project from scratch or buying a self-hosted shopping cart application.
Both deliver great levels of flexibility and control but at the same time, are complicated to implement, involve significant investments in cost and labor and usually require a lot of technical knowledge.
Alternatively, web-based ecommerce software platforms that offer hosted cloud solutions are quick and easy to set up, take care of all the unfriendly technical stuff, can save merchants a lot of valuable time as well as money and offer the highest level of user-friendliness – even to non-techies.
Issues to Consider
Starting any new entrepreneurial activity can be an overwhelming challenge and choosing the right platform is a significant decision that needs to be taken in the early life of the business.
Due to its vast importance and the understandable desire to avoid any pitfalls or costly mistakes, this process requires careful thought, as there are various factors and variables to consider, such as:
- Pricing: What’s the monthly or yearly cost of the service? What are the additional costs (payment gateway fees, transaction fees, add-ons, etc.) other than the price of the chosen monthly or yearly package?
- Ease of Use: Can the software be used by beginners, newbies and people with minimal technical knowhow or does the solution requires professional technological background and extensive knowledge in coding and web design.
- Scalability: Is the system built to accommodate future growth and expansion?
- Website Complexity: Is it a basic, simple shop with standard features and conventional functionality or are there any unique requirements that need to be implemented such as special customization, integration with 3rd party systems or other sophisticated features.
What Do Ecommerce Site Builders Offer?
Ecommerce software provides work in a highly-competitive market that offers a variety of solutions which can help building a successful online enterprise.
Each option has its own pros and cons, bells and whistles, pricing structure, exclusive features, control level and individual user interface.
These solutions can be matched to the customer’s specific goals, skills, budget and preferences.
However, despite their differences, all services offer the same core functionality which enables storeowners to list and display products for sale and lets customers browse and search the catalog, put chosen items in the shopping cart, place an order and pay for it by credit card or PayPal.
In addition, each system needs to address certain aspects of managing an online store and include features such as:
- Customizable Themes
- Online Store Builder
- Unlimited Products, Storage and Bandwidth
- Shopping Cart
- Sales & Marketing Tools
- Customer Management
- Shipping / Order Fulfillment
- Real Time Shipping Quotes
- Inventory Management
- Point-of-Sale Support
- Payment Processing
- 3rd Party Payment Gateway Support
- Customer Service
- SEO Tools
- Bulk Product Import / Export Options
- Responsive Website
- Reporting & Analytics
- Built-In Security
Most companies provide a generous free trial period to test the system, its admin panel and all the features it offers.
In most cases, no credit card is required and the user has all the means to compare different software providers and make an informed decision.
Paying for Ecommerce Platform Plans with PayPal
Even though PayPal is one of the most popular payment methods on the internet, the vast majority of ecommerce website builder providers are not offering it as one of their monthly or annual subscription plan billing options.
A relatively small number players in this market do accept PayPal and hopefully, their number will increase with time.