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The business landscape has shifted considerably in recent years, as growth in digital retail continues to outpace brick-and-mortar retail – standing at a market share of around 30% in the 2022 festive period.

Business owners today, whether established or emerging, need to meet this demand well in order to survive; this requires businesses to engage with e-commerce platforms to provide products and services to clients online.

But what should a business consider when choosing an e-commerce platform?

Budget and Pricing
Any decisions you make in choosing an e-commerce platform need to be grounded in practicability for your business.

Fundamentally, this places budget at the top of your priority list.

Open-source solutions may be free at the point of use, and give you unparalleled control over the various systems you implement, but there are significant costs attached in terms of maintenance, licensing, subscriptions and, of course, labour.

Smaller businesses with minimal staff infrastructure will struggle financially, where SaaS or headless solutions keep overall budgets loved.

The platform you choose also needs to meet your specific needs with regard to ‘integrations’ – that is, the incorporation of plug-ins and other systems to enable smooth transaction and sales management for your specific use case.

For example, as a retailer with physical products your online storefront will need to include a section for delivery – and secure systems for storing user information.

As part of the payment process, you will need plugin integration that enables customers to choose between delivery options.

Giving a customer the chance to choose same-day delivery, and having the platform automatically apply and administrate that choice with respect to each order, would be an indispensable provision.

A key concern which has just been touched upon is that of security.

With e-commerce platforms, you need to be assured in the knowledge that user information will be safe and secure in the event of attempted breaches.

Cybercrime is on the rise, and increasingly important for new start-ups to reckon with as they build a real digital presence.

If is also important that you ensure, if cloud or SaaS, the provider in question does not sell on private customer information to third parties.

User Experience
Lastly, we come to arguably the most important piece of the puzzle regarding your business’ retail presence online: the user experience.

Whether directing existing customers to a new online store, or winning new customers through a new arm of your business, it is key that your front-end is navigable and easy to use.

This, of course, goes both ways. To the host platform or service, you are the customer.

The tools you are given to build your storefront and back-end need to be intuitive to your understanding and skill level.

This point is more important for newer business owners and start-ups with limited talent on-board, but nonetheless has a crucial role in choosing at least the kind of service you opt for – be it a self-hosted or SaaS solution.

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