It takes a village to build a store — either a virtual or physical one. Getting a commercial lease, recruiting a team of staff members, stocking up inventory and setting up long-term partnerships with warehouses are among the most concerned factors when setting up a physical store. Building a virtual store that is based on an e-commerce platform does not require any less effort than that is put in a brick-and-mortar establishment.
The swift-rising growth of e-commerce along with the increasing habit of online shopping among internet users over the past two years has added weight to the demand for setting up an e-commerce store as fast as possible. Articles such as “how to set up an online store in 15 minutes”, “how to automate the process of establishing your virtual store’s foundation”, “how to create your own handmade clothing store with Shopify free of hassle” has flooded the self-help section of google search.
Fast food, fast fashion, then fast business launching.
Now that a large quantity of online stores has risen to the surface, it is the quality of the virtual store that a business owner should take into serious account. Besides choosing the market segment, searching for the right suppliers and setting up a specific tone for the business personality, creating the appearance of your business also plays an important role in winning loyal customers.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business is like deciding whether a full basement, a slab-on-grade or a crawlspace suits the architectural structure of your house. Does an optimal e-commerce platform for all kinds of businesses exist? Designveloper suggests five types of commerce platform as following:
Traditional e-commerce platforms require you to invest intensively in your virtual website, from paying an annual subscription fee or license registration fee, for your website as a way of maintaining the online presence of your business. Since traditional platforms do not offer pre-existing features like open-source platforms, which we will discuss further in a minute, you as a business owner might need full-time assistance and operation from your teams of IT in order to customise and develop your website in a timely manner in accordance with the buyers’ shopping habits and the latest trends in website designing and development. Regarding what type of platform is the most suitable for your business, people at Designveloper are more than willing to provide you with professional advice.
Traditional e-commerce platforms could be slightly more cost-effective than traditional brick-and-mortar platforms thanks to the significant cost reduction in estate rent charges infrastructure costs and human resources, yet traditional costs like costs of input (products), warehousing (unless your business is trying out the drop-shipping business model), logistics and business taxes are pretty much still intact when it comes to business expenditure.
If you as a new business owner prioritizes cost-efficiency, a large number of design options and more efficient control in hosting the website, plugins and website themes, an open-source commerce platform would be a perfect option for you. The majority of open-source platforms are always membership-charge free and constantly under development as developers of such platforms would update the current trends in e-commerce on a regular basis for free.
Business owners will never have to worry about falling behind the e-commerce trends in designing as innovative features are constantly added to the shopping experience of the customers, which in turn will increase engagement with online shoppers and further raise the likelihood of customers’ revisiting your virtual store. Such innovations being constantly updated on the open-source platforms are made thanks to the generous contribution of the community of developers.
However, there are always two sides of the same coin. An open-source e-commerce platform allows you to save time researching heavy subjects in programming and refreshing the appearance of your websites when you feel the need of giving your business a reboot. Yet the same platform could cost you more time in researching feature problems as there is little consistency in the foundation of the platform. You soon will find yourself in need of more intricate knowledge in website development. For instance, the final step including check-out and payment encounters technical glitches that fail your customers’ wish to buy a certain product and therefore, causing them to lose interest in making purchasing goods from your inventory. Such error cannot be mended quickly if you lack an advanced understanding of your own store foundation and have no professional developers as a part of your business staff. When such errors occur, you can contact Designveloper for the fastest development solutions and saves you time manhandling the problem by yourself.
Our designers suggest Magento if you are seeking an open-source platform for your virtual business. Prominent businesses that achieved significant success thanks to the operation based on open-source platforms are namely Amazon, IBM — International Business Machines Corporation (a New York-based multinational group, Ticketmaster — a California-based company specialised in ticket sales and distribution, and Wired (a monthly American magazine specialised in emerging technologies and how they affect culture, economy and politics).
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Let’s go through the advantages of cloud-based platforms: low-cost entry, flexibility, constant updating, low support cost, real-time data tracking and so on. Cost efficiency is the most concerned factor any business owners would have to thoroughly consider at any stage of their business operation, from early set-up, store launching to maintenance. Thanks to the low entry cost of cloud platforms, an independent business owner can set up their own virtual store with a minimum cost of platform subscription and a limited number of SKUs that typically generate a satisfactory proportion of additional sales per month.
A cloud-based platform would allow business owners to be flexible in micromanaging the number of active vendors at any time — you can fish out or add up the number of vendors whether you wish to better control a certain number of vendor participants in your business or to scale up and increase the engagement of vendors to your business. Consequently, this will allow a solo entrepreneur to multiply the number of products and offer more to their targeted marketplace.
Constant travel to meet new potential clients and investors means business owners will have to manage their business operations remotely. This is when the real-time data tracking comes in handy for subscribers of cloud-based platforms. Instant access to your database of clients, vendors and transactions anywhere you and your team members wish to gain is a major game-changer for business owners who are always on the move.
The most efficient cloud-based platforms that Designveloper have chosen for our own customers are Demandware, Salesforce Commerce and Volusion. Marketing companies, data security groups, multinational companies (or global companies) and accounting companies are among businesses that benefit the most from using cloud-based platforms.
Another e-commerce platform that makes the list of plausible platform options for an owner of a virtual business is SaaS or service-as-a-service platform, one of the three primary fractions of cloud computing, along with IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service).
Similar to cloud platforms, SaaS platforms save virtual store owners from the hassle of installing and operating software applications on their personal computers and any computers. Thanks to SaaS platforms, the entire database of your business is uploaded and available on the internet. Given a steady internet connection, you and your staff members can gain access to your business software at any time, making sure you never run into the unfortunate scenario of data loss.
With a specific monthly subscription charge, SaaS platforms are frequently recommended by professional designers and website developers to businesses of various scales — small, medium and large. Businesses that hold a tight policy of non-disclosing customers’ data would also opt for SaaS platforms due to their outstanding features of security and system maintenance. Reassurance gained from a safe and secure system established on a SaaS platform would enhance trust between customers and service providers, creating trustworthy partnerships as a result.
Large enterprises such as Netflix, American Red Cross and Google G Suite are well-known for their upscale services thanks to the tight security feature offered by SaaS platforms.
Build your own
If none of the above commerce platforms catches your eye, you can also build your own customized store. However, since you are obliged to start from scratch if you decide to go all the way with the decision, there are costs that you have to bear in mind like website development, maintenance and new feature updating. It is highly recommended that you contract either internal or external human resources to develop a virtual website using such type of e-commerce platform. People at Designveloper are willing to help you with the DIY platform since it is our mission to carry out the best design-and-develop services to our customers.
Throughout our development projects since the beginning, there are common patterns in website building that we would like you as an entrepreneur of a virtual store to keep in mind when selecting an appropriate e-commerce platform:
- Choosing a platform that’s hard to keep track of;
- Redundant features;
- Having no clear objectives beforehand;
- Customizing the wrong way.
Contact Designveloper for professional advice when you have questions regarding the website development of your business.