When comparing website builders and other ecommerce platforms, you need to consider more than just a pretty landing page.
A beautiful website is important, but many templates you see on line, are just beautiful photography, sitting in a pretty standard template, that may or may not have the features you need. Do you want a website that looks just like 10 other websites on the web? It's important that you personalise your website to have your own professional photography, your own logo, your own brand colours, fonts, etc. Look past the initial design, and consider if the template has the elements you needs, such as an ever present category menu, social media icons, login buttons. Is the template mobile responsive or does the system offer a mobile view?
The consideration of order fulfilment and courier integration does not seem that important to begin with, but when your business gets cranking, and you are paying someone else to pack and ship your goods, then time efficiency is key. You will want to be sure that your ecommerce engine can print packing dockets, and integrate to your chosen courier provider, so that they can print the right courier label and confirm the rural delivery status, and not waste time copy and pasting 10 address fields. Consider this, it could cost between $1 and $2 for your employees time to print and attach a courier label, so lets make sure that is more like $1 eh! Don't waste your website investment on a pretty template, focus on your long term business needs.
When you get started with your business, you might be happy using Stripe or Paypal, with no monthly fees. However, when your business grows, and you are earning a decent turnover, then the 50 cents plus 3% fee will start to hurt. That fee will quickly add up to a large sum. Make sure you pick a eCommerce platform that allows you to change to the more traditional bank merchant account gateways. These gateways will reduce your merchant fees to between 2% and 2.5% of your total turnover. At Website World, we support all the NZ payment gateways, as well as many other payment gateways around
Some of our competitors charge a transcation fee on top of the payment gateway fee. Look out for that fee. It might help you initially to stay on a lower hosting plan, but eventually, you should be upgrading hosting plans to avoid the % fee. You should always ignore the free or basic hosting plans when making comparisons between providers. What is most important is your long term costs.
Several of our competitors do not offer loyalty programs and vouchers on their standard hosting plans, and you need to upgrade to get those features. You should most definitely upgrade to get those features. Loyalty programs and vouchers will increase your business turnover in the long term. However, if your business is small, and you are concerned about your fixed expenditure, then you would be best to consider selecting a platform like our website builder service, or opensource like Wordpress wooCommerce with a loyalty points plugin built in.
It is very easy and very affordable to setup online shopping with several providers. However, once you have built a website and gone live, it is alot harder to rebuild an online shop elsewhere, while still trying to maintain your business flow, and giving customers a consistent user experience with any inbuilt loyalty programs. Don't plan on changing to another provider later. Pick the best provider now.
Don't be a cheapskate! When comparing ecommerce providers, and hosting providers, do not focus on price alone. There are so many cheap options out there (under $1 per day), but those options can hurt your business. You want a reliable web hosting provider with good up time history, and fast loading pages. Your want great responsive support too so that if there are any issues, that they can be fixed asap. In general, be prepared to pay from $1 to $2 per business day for a good hosted ecommerce platform for a new small business. In the long run, you may need to increase your hosting plan, but as a percentage of sales, your overall platform costs should be less 2% of your turnover. At the same time, do be concerned about future development costs. Are all the plugins you need included in your package? What costs will be involved in future development and maintenance of your site? Can you do any of the content updates yourself, including template changes?
Does your platform integrate with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel API. And no I don't mean page hit tracking. I mean does your ecommerce platform feedback all the successful sales tracking data, so that these advertising providers can better target your advertising spend where it has the best conversions. If not, you are going to waste so much money on wasted advertising, or waste so much time trying to manage your advertising spend.
It can be a hard job to tie together lots of different systems together. You will most likely need a regular maintenance contract with an expert to help you keep it all working, as different platforms get updated at different times. Each platform will reserve the right to upgrade, and won't take responsibility for another platform not matching their play. The benefit of using Website World, is that we have nicely integrated all the key elements of business marketing and sales into a seemless experience. So you can have landing pages and ecommerce sales feeding into your email promotions, feeding back into the sales process with 1 click login and keyboard less checkout. It is much harder to connect mailchimp to your ecommerce channel, but is achievable.
Well you don't have a shop yet, but one day you might. It is quite likely that as your business grows, you will want to have a show room, or manage orders for trade customers. Services like POS and Inventory management require complicated API integration. Often these integrations suffer from synchronisation timing issues where sold stock remains available for sale, or sales reports need to be collated across systems. With Website World, the integrated POS system ensures that inventory levels and reports are always acurate across all systems. The same loyalty system and vouchers can be purchased or redeemed in store or online. The customer can see all their instore purchases in their website back end, and the customer experience remains consistent. Make sure you have considered how you will transition to a POS system.
Make sure you have access to all aspects of your control panel. If you have a domain name managed by your web host or web designer, make sure you can see access to control your DNS settings in your control panel. Make sure you can request your UDAI or Authorisation code in your control panel. These will help you or your new web designer gain control of your web address, when your old provider becomes unresponsive. Make sure you can get access to your product and members data via database exports, or otherwise access your database. It is so common for customers to only have access to a Wordpress control panel, but it is very difficult to get a comprehensive export of your website via that interface, and makes it hard to move your site to a new provider. Wordpress users should have access to another control panel (not wordpress), where they can access their FTP details and database. Most hosting providers provide this, but many web designers do not reveal it. All Wordpress customers at Website World can get access to all these elements, so you know you can easily depart should you ever want to.
Support is so important for ecommerce. You want your website and email back up super fast if there are any issues. You want good backup processes in place. It is best to get your domain and email and web hosting from one provider, otherwise, you may not get solutions as quickly. When it comes to email notifications from a web server, then you need all 3 parties to work together. The domain DNS needs to be operational, with SPF records to ensure your web host is authoritive for email. You need your email provider not to spam filter your form enquiries from third parties. You need to ensure your web host can help you resolve why you are not getting your notifications, without reference to the other providers, for which your web host is not omniscient. Website World is well supported by team of experienced staff, and cover the majority of the NZ business day and evening with phone support, as well as after hours email support and great response times. Each day, we ensure we have at least 1 team member on with 10+ years experience in our platform.
Posted: Thursday 10 August 2017