What if you could become an online store owner in five minutes?
Engaging in e-commerce used to be an enormous commitment for businesses. Then, e-commerce platforms came in the portrait and made the process easier for smaller companies. Today, this process can be quite easy. The e-commerce platforms’ offer is blooming. Every Internet user now has the possibility to launch an online store with basic transactional capabilities in a few minutes without hardly any coding required. We understand their limitations for big businesses with larger inventories or CRM needs, but they can be a suitable option for small retailers.
If you have products ready to sell and seductive pictures of them, you can use these web-based tools. The steps to follow are similar for most all-in-one e-commerce solutions. To guide your how-to expectations, here are the five most typical steps listed below:
1. Set up a store: You can create a store without any design or coding skills by choosing from a wide variety of customizable templates. Thereby, you can personalize your store by changing the colors, uploading your logo, adding widgets, modifying the products’ pages features, etc. At this level, preparation is needed to have professional looking pictures and descriptions that can be integrated in the templates. Also, it is necessary to make sure that the overall result is visually coherent. Most tools offer templates for mobile devices or responsive designs to allow your consumers to shop from their phone or tablet.
2. Payments: When you launch your store, you can accept a wide variety of credit cards and payments getaways (ex: Paypal, Moneris). These tools all offer secured payments and security seals for your store (SSL, McAfee).
3. Shipping: E-commerce builders are integrated with major shipping carriers as UPS and FedEx. Generally, they also take care of calculating the taxes for you based on your location. They can also assist you to adjust your prices in order to offer free shipping. In most cases, they claim that you only have to print a label to ship worldwide. However, in Canada, shipping facilities are to be set apart from the United States with Canada Post. Therefore, it is essential to verify if you can enable Canada Post as your shipping provider.
4. Use management tools: When you begin to sale, you can watch the evolution of your inventory with simple interfaces that gather your sales, orders and returns. According to the builders, you will benefit from a great flexibility to manage your online catalog (ex: adding products and removing products, customizing the way products are displayed). Likewise, some features are supposed to make customer service effortless.
5. Use marketing tools: Obviously, if you want to sell products online, you will need to do some marketing. All-in-one e-commerce solutions include various tools for this part of the process. As an example, they enable you to connect your store to social media by selling on Facebook, advertising on social sites and adding social buttons to your interface. You can also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing directly on your store if you choose to let consumers rate and comment your products. You can keep in touch with your clients and inform them when there are new items available by sending newsletters, mobile alerts and promotional emails (in Canada, don’t forget LCAP). Finally, some e-commerce builders allow you to sale simultaneously on sites like eBay and Amazon.
What are the options available?
There are plenty of choices with similar features when it comes to easy e-commerce builders. The best thing is to explore the options and to figure out which one fits best with your needs. Price wise, the monthly plans start around 20$CAN and rarely exceed 250$CAN. Prices are mainly based on the number of products in the store, storage space and additional features (ex: gift cards, reports). When comparing plans, you should check if the builder is asking for commissions on your sales. Generally, technical support is available 24 hours/day by phone or chat at any time for all plans. Here are a couple simple e-commerce builders to look at.
- Big Commerce
- Panier d’achat
- Shopping Cart Elite
Are instant e-commerce builders too good to be true?
The solutions presented above certainly have a lot of limitations, but they are interesting for small businesses that could not engage in e-commerce otherwise. An e-commerce builder is a tool to start with, but a lot of work and thinking are required to manage and promote a successful online store. Even with a template, the design of the store has to be customer-centered. It needs to be easy to navigate, represent your business and, above all, look professional. This will affect directly the way the consumer feels about the products and security on the site and thus, impact the conversion rate. Security seals can’t compensate for bad design choices. Also, online marketing has to be done wisely. Especially, it is essential to stick to your brand’s image when you are posting on social media or answering consumers’ questions.
In conclusion, all-in-one e-commerce solutions offer small businesses an e-commerce engine with a blank canvas to fill and promote judiciously.