Although building an ecommerce site is an art in its own right, at least the technical aspects have been made easier. In the past, this would require significant programming skills, making it impossible to do for a lot of small business owners who, obviously, are knowledgeable in their personal niche, but not in digital work. Luckily, because of rising demand in easier to use and manage solutions, there are now lots of ecommerce platforms that you can use. In fact, a number of companies have made it their mission to assist small business owners in creating effective sites.
How to Choose An eCommerce Builder
Whenever there is an increase in demand for anything, there is inevitably also an increase in availability. Today, there are many ecommerce solutions available, and all of them promise that you can build a high quality, easy to operate online store at an affordable price. Most of them will apparently have a number of similar tools and features. However, there are differences and you will need to choose and find the one that will be most suitable to your particular needs subject to the limitations imposed by your budget.
When you start comparing the options, you will notice that there is quite a bit of technical jargon to make your way through, and this can make it more difficult to find what you are looking for. If this is your first ecommerce website, then some of the terminologies will probably be very hard to understand. The added problem is that deciding to create an ecommerce website is always a gamble. You are starting a new endeavor after all, and you want to get things right. But if you lack the knowledge on ecommerce website builders, you may feel quite stuck.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be disheartened because there is actually a lot of help out there for you, not just in terms of the software solutions that you can use in order to build your website, but also in terms of how you can compare them and break through the complex jargon. Below, we will discuss some of the best ecommerce website builders out there, to give you a little bit of an idea of what exists. Hopefully, this will lift the veil at least to some degree for you.
Hosted or Self-Hosted eCommerce?
Now that you have been able to take a look at the options that are available to you, you will find that there is another big question that you have to ask yourself: do you choose a hosted solution, or do you host yourself? Generally speaking, hosted software is a lot more user friendly. However, if you have some advanced skills yourself, then choosing an open source, self-hosted solution is probably better for you.
Luckily, you can’t really make the wrong decision, as you can build an online store with either. The question you need to ask yourself just how much you want to customize your store. Obviously, the more unique something is, the more recognizable it is as well. However, it also means that you have to really know what you’re doing. Another thing you have to ask yourself is how many products you intend to sell, and how much you are willing to learn about ecommerce website overall.
Advantages of Hosted Solutions
If you choose the hosted option, which is more user friendly, you can build something without ever needing any real technical skills. If you’re happy to just stay focused on your particular niche, and you want something that works for you but remains simple, then this is the right option. It is very good for those who don’t want to concern themselves with the technicalities of running online stores, with the security, or with how to have a site hosted. Essentially, it gives you all the features and tools you need to build something good, leaving the technical side of it up to the system itself. It also means you won’t need to either train yourself in IT, or hire someone to do it for you. Rather, your focus can remain on your business.
Hosted solutions are also turn key solutions. Everything is installed for you and ready to be used straight away. They come with payment processors and product managers built in as a standard. You don’t have to learn how to integrate solutions and you don’t have to configure much either. Plus, you can usually count on some excellent customer support, so if you do want to tweak something and get stuck, you don’t have to worry too much.
Lastly, hosted solutions are perfect for those people who just want to drag and drop the various elements of their site. You will never have to learn about coding, HTML, or anything else like that. Instead, all the codes are hidden to a degree, giving you a user interface that is designed to be simple to use. All you really have to do is add your galleries, pictures, and products, connect everything to your chosen payment processor and start selling.
Drawbacks of Hosted Solutions
While hosted solutions may sound like the perfect solution, they do have a few drawbacks. They aren’t particularly flexible, so if you ever want to change a certain function, you may struggle to do so. They are also often quite limited in terms of how many products you can add.
The solutions mentioned above are all hosted solutions. That is because, if you are looking at self-hosting, it is likely that you are quite technologically advanced and already have a lot of experience with building online stores. Nevertheless, some of those listed above do have extra customization options, which means they are suitable not just for beginners, but also for those with more advanced knowledge.
Another reason why the above are all hosted solutions is because they are solutions that enable you to build a store in just a few hours. Few people know how to code or have the money to pay for developers, nor do they have dedicated IT support staff on board. By and large, hosted software is the easiest and quickest way for you to make sure that you have a well-functioning store ready to start selling.
Do make sure that you consider what your needs are, and your personal abilities, before you sign up. Many ecommerce website builders do offer a free trial, but the last thing you want to do is build an entire site, only to find out later on that you don’t like it and that you have to start all over again. Even if this will not cost you any money, it will require you to invest a substantial amount of time on it.