If your startup involves selling anything on the web, welcome to the increasingly competitive world of e-commerce. Today, you have an almost overwhelming amount of options to help you dominate this space, so your e-commerce platform – the software or service by which you will sell to others via a desktop browser, mobile device or app – could make or break your business.
In brief, your e-commerce platform will:
• Provide customers with all the information they need about your product or service in order to make an informed decision (photos, videos, in-depth description, price, etc.)
• Allow customers to add the items they want to purchase to a virtual “shopping cart”
• Encourage customers to create a profile that stores their address, contact information, and even credit card data
• Drive customers to complete the purchase and arrange shipping or pickup of the product, if applicable
Even with this basic set of requirements, all e-commerce platforms are not created equally. Some are strictly web-based services which, for a monthly fee, provide you with a login and access to build your own store. Others require software that you install yourself (or have someone install for you), but which also provide more flexibility in branding and control over the customer experience. This may also result in being more cost effective over time.
So what is the best e-commerce platform for your startup? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is a program that is extremely popular for building websites, but not as well-known for its e-commerce solutions: WordPress.
Depending on who you ask, WordPress is used by anywhere from 25 percent to 45 percent of the entire web – and they can’t all be wrong. So here are four reasons you should consider WordPress for your e-commerce needs.
Some e-commerce platforms, especially those employing a subscription service, tend to allow only certain configurations. WordPress, on the other hand, provides extensive flexibility by offering literally thousands of plugins. Having the source code means you can customize your site to your exact specifications, which is important as your store grows.
If your website is already built using WordPress, then choosing it as your e-commerce platform as well is a no-brainer. The integration will be seamless, and will eliminate having to log into two different systems or sync data between the two.
3. Cost effectiveness
By integrating your website platform with your e-commerce platform, you’ll see a reduction in IT costs. Plus, as an extremely well-known, open source platform, Wordpress is easy to use, and there are an abundance of experts out there who know how to use it as well. This will keep your lean startup very lean indeed.
As a lean startup, you need to spend your money wisely. We recommend spending as little as possible at first to validate your brand, then investing more as the brand and model prove themselves. WordPress is perfect for that, giving you a flexible, inexpensive e-commerce presence with low to no overhead that also grows as your company grows. You can even install it on your own servers, reducing expenses until your store is fully up and running. Or if you choose, you can get free hosting from us!
We’re here to provide services like free e-commerce hosting, to help you make smart decisions when starting your business, and to build a startup community to connect you with other entrepreneurs. Join us!