Business Trends: Best Picks in Ecommerce Tech
Whether you're an experienced online retailer or just starting an ecommerce business, you'll want to check out this quick look at the type of technology touted by industry experts and other business owners.
Retailers Report Record Online Shopping
The demand for ecommerce seems clear as consumers continue to demonstrate their love for online shopping.
Of the record 200.4 million consumers who shopped during the five days between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, 134.2 million were online shoppers, according to the annual National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey.
A record number of consumers shopped onsite and online during that period, surpassing last year's record 196.7 million for the same period. There were more online shoppers than any other consumers during the Thanksgiving weekend at 44 percent (42 percent shopped grocery at stores and supermarkets).
"Shoppers exceeded our expectations with a robust turnout," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release.
Now, for a look at the tech successful business owners are using to sell their products and services online.
There are several factors to consider as you review which type of sales platform will best align with your type of business and the features and tools you need to get your ecommerce site up and running smoothly and effectively.
For example, some platforms are more geared toward retailers selling products while others, such as Fiverr, are considered better suited for service providers.
A key place to start is deciding whether to set up your ecommerce website or build a store on a third-party marketplace.
Online store builders
Entrepreneurs who want to build an ecommerce site with their domain name and design should look into this platform category.
The selection ranges from simple and free to enterprise-level platforms, with varying fees, user requirement skills, and features, such as the ability to book appointments and take payments.
"The best e-commerce website builders are affordable, scalable, and user-friendly,” writes Rosalie Murphy in a Nerdwallet post. "But the right choice for you will depend on your comfort level with tasks like coding and your business needs.”
Nerdwallet's list of “best ecommerce website builders” includes Shopify, Square Online, Squarespace, Wix and BigCommerce. In a September article, U.S. World and News Report called WooCommerce the best ecommerce platform for small businesses.
There are also website builder platforms that let businesses use their ecommerce features without creating a store, including Wix and Squarespace. "These may be a better fit for businesses that primarily provide services or host events,” explains the Nerdwallet post.
Third-party marketplaces are attractive to entrepreneurs and small business owners for many reasons, particularly if they're just starting to sell products online.
Sites like Amazon, Etsy, Depop, and Ebay that let you set up an ecommerce store on their site offer several advantages to ecommerce business owners, including a built-in loyal customer base and broader audience reach.
Downsides cited by small businesses are limited options available to customize your store, the inability to communicate directly with customers and the fees, typically a percentage of your sales.
Shopping cart and payment processing
If you're using an ecommerce website builder, you'll typically set up the cart and website simultaneously. You'll also have the option to choose a built-in payment processor.
The cart is where customers view the items they wish to purchase, change quantities, apply discount codes and see approximate shipping rates or tax amounts. The payment gateway or payment processor is where customers enter credit or debit card information and pay for their items.
Shift4Shop is cited by Nerdwallet as the best shopping cart for B2B sellers and OpenCart as the best online shopping cart to add to an existing website, says the article by staff writers Randa Kriss and Murphy.
With ecommerce website builders, you can opt for a built-in payment processor, which automatically takes a percentage of your revenue for the service provided (on top of any monthly subscription fee if you have one).
Some ecommerce platforms will let you choose your payment processor. If you’re a high-volume seller or expect to be, it might be worth researching other payment processors and fees to find the best deal for your business.
You'll want to reliable internet technology that can deliver the upload and download speeds to support a successful ecommerce business, as research shows that website speed impacts an online shopper's likelihood of purchasing.
Google's recommended page load time for ecommerce sites is two seconds or less. "When pages load slowly, users are less interested in sticking around to find out if you can meet their needs," says digital marketing expert Neil Patel on his website.