Choosing to sell online involves a lot of considerations, including pricing points, fulfilment, and digital marketing. When it comes to the technical side of things, we're often asked "What's the best online e-commerce system?"
There are certainly plenty to choose from. But it really depends on what – and how – you're planning to sell. From our experience delivering a number of e-commerce solutions over the years – from single product add-ons to full retail offerings – we've pulled-together these (hopefully) helpful lists of considerations and platforms.
Will you be selling one thing, or multiple products?
Multiple items may mean you need to offer basket functionality allowing users to purchase multiple items at once.
What types of product will you be selling?
Physical items will require gathering delivery details, digital products may require a secure download and memberships or subscriptions may be required to auto-renew. Each product type can often require specific functionality.
Estimate the volume of sales
Not an easy task! Especially if you're just starting out; but a reasonably accurate estimate of these initial numbers – and forecast over time – will help you to select the right platform, for now and intothe future. E-commerce platforms and payment gateways will charge monthly and/or per-transaction fees – often tiered, based on the volume of sales / value of transactions.
How complex will your delivery options be?
Will you be selling internationally? Will delivery be calculated on a per product basis or combined based on order?
Do you need integrations with other systems?
Do you need to integrate customers and orders with your CRM allowing customers to share a login or see their order history. Maybe you need to pull products through to other parts of your website or pull website content into the shop checkout path.
What about 'other features'?
Do customer need to select the size or colour of their t-shirt? Other, advanced features might include guest check-out, social login, promo-codes, sales and discounts.
Here're some platforms we've worked with; from the very basic to highly advanced.
You may already have the technology in place to handle online sales. CRMs such as Spektrix, Tessitura and TicketSolve all handle the sale of products, in various ways. Whilst not their primary function, using an existing CRM will benefit customers, by allowing them to use their existing logins, and combine the sales of other offers such as donations, tickets and memberships.
This is one of the easiest to set up and most flexible. Jotform is a hosted service with the primary function of allowing you to build forms, embed them on your website and collect data. Jotform offers a wide range of widgets including payment gateways such as Paypal, Stripe and Worldpay. You can add these with no code required and start selling products straight away – Great for a simple shop set-up!
Shopify is a hosted platform with a monthly subscription. It serves a wide range of scales – from a simple pop-up shop that requires very little set up, through to fully-featured e-commerce with totally customisable templates and styling.
Our preferred CMS, Craft, has a first-party commerce plugin that offers powerful e-commerce features. The benefit here is that you can completely customise the checkout experience, and integrate with existing content structures on a Craft-powered website.
Whilst Stripe's core offer is a simple (and great) plugin payment gateway, it also offers a number cart-based functions.
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