Imagine this: You’re sitting at home a rainy Saturday afternoon and all of a sudden your consumerist cognition kicks in and you think about purchasing the newest iPod Nano or Nike Free Runs.
What’s your first step from here?
Chances are you’re not going to hop in your car and drive down to the nearest shopping complex or flagship store in the city. Chances are, you’re going to jump on your laptop and start browsing the hundreds of online retailers trying their best to keep you on the couch and away from the megamalls, all whilst selling you a pair of Ray-Bans with a 40% discount. Sounds good to me, I hate traffic anyway.
The expansion of the eCommerce marketplace over 10 years ago has exceeded all expectations, with online transactions through Visa, MasterCard and PayPal currently experiencing a massive growth. Major eCommerce pioneers such as Amazon and eBay opened doors for local companies to ship global, for the price of a pretty commission.
Nowadays, browsing online stores has become as much a part of our daily routine as sleep itself.
The ease in which online retailers are now able to get their eStores up and running in such a short time-frame means we are now exposed to such a huge variety of options. Sourcing hosting and building a site may be initially a cost-focused project, but overall the lack of bricks and mortar overheads means investment can be made into a better stock range and greater warehouse/delivery efficiency.
The baseline for all this is the eCommerce and ‘turnkey’ software now on offer, some of these include:
The advantages of using such software are vast:
> The sheer number of features included in these platforms means you can get started immediately in designing your online store
- Catalogues and SKUs
> Upload of item details, products & SKUs is streamlined and straightforward
- Plug-ins and Extensions
> With platforms such as Magento, the huge community and open-source nature of the software means there is scope to do so much more with the platform.
- Admin Interfaces
> With standardised admin control panels, you can schedule tasks and manage your store without heavy backend editing and time-consuming modifications to the site’s functionality.
- Updates and Themes
> Think WordPress, but for your eCommerce website – that’s what some of these platforms can offer.
Using these platforms in conjunction with a solid hosting solution enables a company to quick-start their business plan or strategy, this is commonly known as Rapid Development. Additionally combining all of advantages means you reduce the time invested into sourcing and agreeing on other elements such as a payment gateway, as this can be plugged into the platforms using an API.
Turnkey eCommerce hosting platforms create a broader entry point for users too, as anyone can source documentation from the software providers quite easily and develop a ‘self-taught’ understanding of the software/platform.
It is important to note that some platforms such as Neto or Volusion offer all-in-one hosting and platform packages, this means that with a Volusion platform your website may be hosted in the US which could be a negative factor for SEO. In the case of Neto, being hosted in Australia means lower latency and arguably better for SEO. Of course, economies of scale mean you’ll always pay a higher price anything hosted on our shores.
Magento will offer in some ways the greatest scope for any eCommerce business, the sheer flexibility and size of the platform means you can integrate a huge number of add-ons and plugins into this open-source offering. Magento is steadily becoming one of the more popular choices amongst online retailers, purely because it is powerful platform. It does however suffer invariably from its bloatness, following optimisation guides such as this from Magento’s blog can be highly beneficial:
The most common hosting solution for self-hosted platforms such as Magento would be a VPS or a Dedicated Server, some clients choose to beef up their hosting by using clusters and load-balanced configurations. Using a scalable solution enables your hosting solution to grow with the site’s traffic and hopefully, sales.
If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.
– Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Taking into consideration what you are aiming for in the short and long-term is key to selecting a platform, knowing what is available and doing your homework is ultimately a lesson best not learned twice. Read up on the benefits and pitfalls of each platform and find one that best fits your time, capital and business plan.
No two eCommerce/turnkey platforms are alike, assessing what is most fitting to how you want to run the store is of importance; after all you’ll be investing a considerable amount of time into sitting in front of your screen using the administration panels – usability is still key!
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