I speak to hundreds of online businesses and they all say the same thing: choosing the right ecommerce system is not easy. The biggest challenge is satisfying both your current requirements and your plans for the future. You need a service which can grow with your business, but which remains affordable.
Ecommerce services are the supporting infrastructure your business needs in order to sell online. There are two main types:
No matter which type of service you choose, it’s important the web hosting – which allows you to publish your ecommerce site on the internet – is reliable.
To put this into context, your online shop is only as good as its capability to handle peak traffic – like, for example, in the run up to Christmas. A slow or unresponsive site is a sure way to get ignored by potential customers. Slow or unreliable hosting can also adversely affect how your site ranks with search engines like Google.
However, it’s often important to keep costs low – especially if you’re just starting out with your online shop. To balance performance with cost, look for:
Your online shop needs to be able to process payments so people can actually buy from you online. If you buy a ready hosted package, payment processing will probably be included. If not, you’ll need to find a payment service provider (PSP).
It’s a good idea to get started with a service customers recognise, like PayPal. However, they often charge high processing fees – typically 4% of every transaction for smaller online retailers. As these costs mount up, you’ll want to look at more cost-effective services.
You’ll also need to make sure your online shop complies with the UK’s strict rules for handling credit card data. These are called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard – PCI DSS for short. As you long as you process payments through a PSP, it’s easy to stay compliant – you never actually see any of your customers’ payment details, so compliance is the PSP’s problem, not yours.