Here at #TheLab we get a lot of calls from potential clients who are looking for their first eCommerce website. In many cases they’re already experienced eBay and/or Amazon sellers looking to take the next step. Amazon and eBay are great ways to start selling your products online, but after a while many sellers tell us they want to take more control of their business. The eCommerce platform you choose can be more important than your product, let us help you pick the right one for your product.
Others tell us they’ve already got a website but it’s become outdated, it’s difficult to administer, or it’s impossible to make the branding, layout and functionality changes they want.
Having your own eCommerce website enables you to establish your own business model, brand identity and pricing structures and in the case of eBay and Amazon sellers, avoid paying monthly subscription or per-sale fees.
Taking the plunge selling products on your own website can be daunting at first, where do you start? Which eCommerce platform should you use? What about hosting?
These are some of the questions we get asked a lot. The answers depend on what kind of business you are, what resources you have available and how much you’re willing to invest in a new website.
Lets take a look at three common eCommerce platforms and see who they suit best.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that integrates directly into WordPress and currently powers more than 37% of all online stores. It’s popular with start-ups and small businesses looking to dip their toes into the eCommerce waters for the first time. The plugin itself is free of charge and bolts straight into WordPress which allows businesses to concentrate their website budget on design, functionality, user experience and reliable hosting.
We recommend WooCommerce to clients with a more modest budget, it enables us to provide them with a great looking, easy to manage online store for a relatively modest outlay. It’s also a good first option for Amazon and eBay sellers who want to diversify and start selling via their own website.
Shopify is an easy to use eCommerce platform and like WooCommerce it’s also a good option for businesses looking to start selling products on their own website. Where Shopify scores over its competitors is that it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you – web hosting, coding, secure payments and upgrades are all taken care of by Shopify so you can concentrate on managing your inventory and selling your products. There is a small ongoing cost for using Shopify ($29 per month at the time of writing) but that’s a small price to pay for a solid, reliable and secure eCommerce website.
In day to day use our clients tell us it’s easy to add and update products on Shopify using its intuitive backend interface. Design customisation is also straightforward. Shopify allows full access to the site HTML, CSS and template files giving designers and developers the ability to change site layout, branding and design directly in the browser. If that sounds like hard work you can opt for a great-looking, pre-designed template – there are plenty to choose from.
The Shopify App Store provides 3rd party plugins that add extra functionality to your Shopify site and apps include everything from social media sharing buttons to eBay integration which automatically lists products from your Shopify website on eBay.
Having worked on Shopify with a number of clients we can heartily recommend it as a good, reliable option for small and medium sized businesses who want to have their first eCommerce website or upgrade from an outdated or restrictive existing website.
Magento is a really powerful eCommerce platform and here at The Lab we generally recommend it to larger, more established clients who either have very large product inventories, require custom functionality on their website or who need to integrate into POS, stock control or other systems used elsewhere in their business.
Magento isn’t a cheap option, but where it scores heavily against its rivals is that it’s scalable. When your business takes off exponentially and your web traffic grows, your Magento powered website can grow with it and you’re not stuck with a website that’s struggling to meet the extra demand.
Visually speaking Magento has a large range of pre-designed templates to choose from, or if you require something totally bespoke to suit your brand, it’s straightforward for your frontend developers to work on.
There is also a massive range of Magento extensions available which enable additional functionality to be added to your website with a minimum of fuss.
If you’re thinking of starting or upgrading an eCommerce website but you’re still not sure which option best suits your needs please get in touch for an informal, no obligation chat.
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What our client say...
“Richard and his team took a lot of time out of his day to come and visit us, see our products, see what we’re about and understand our industry. The results, they speak for themselves really.”
CEO & Founder
1 Stop Spas