While e-commerce is so readily available to business owners there are a few key things you need to decide on before your customers can start hitting the many ‘buy-now’ buttons you are eager to install. This article highlights some key items for consideration before embarking on your e-commerce journey.

E-Commerce platform

First things first, you need to have an e-commerce platform built into your site. An E-commerce platform is the environment where your online store can live. There are a number of e-commerce platforms to choose from and some can be add-on’s to your existing site or a completely new site for sales. Some platforms for you to choose from include:

Wix

Squarespace

Shopify

Shopstar (this one is 100% South African)

BigCommerce

WooCommerce

Magento

The above list is by no means exhaustive; there are many e-commerce platforms for you to select from. The three most popular appear to be WooCommerce (this is a great option if your current website is built on a WordPress site), Shopstar (particularly if you like to support local) and Shopify. There are some key factors you need to consider when make your selection, these include:

  1. Is creating an e-commerce platform the best thing for your business right now? Consider the benefits of testing your product sales in existing online marketplaces first.
  2. What are the features that you require in an e-commerce store?
  3. Do you have an idea of future sales projections and business growth? Can the platform you choose manage these projected increases?
  4. What is your monthly budget for e-commerce platforms and functionalities?
  5. Does the e-commerce platform you have selected include automated product feeds allowing you to sell on Google, Facebook or Instagram if you need to?

Quality photography

It is essential that you have quality photography for all images of all your products. This is a major selling point for customers and it is crucial for your brand perception. These product shots can be used on you e-commerce store as well as on your social media platforms, newsletters and any forms of product catalogues you produce. In short, it is an investment that you will be able to maximise across a number of your marketing assets.

Security & Payment Card Industry Compliance

It is important that your store is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. This is key in reducing credit card fraud. Your e-commerce platform may take care of ensuring your compliance, however, it will be important for you to check before going live.

Payment gateway

As explained by this team, a payment gateway is “an e-commerce software that authorises payments for online merchants, e-businesses or electronic business, bricks and clicks or traditional bricks and mortar businesses.”

A payment gateway connects to e-commerce or in-house payment processors such as credit cards processing networks. It is basically a third-party between merchants and customers that securely takes the money from customers and ensures that it goes into the merchant’s bank account. It can also be considered “a virtual equivalent of a physical point-of-sale terminal” such as located in most physical retail outlets.

There are number of payment gateways you can select from, including and not limited to :

PayFast

PayU

Peach Payments

PayGate

Shipping

Once you’ve selected your e-commerce platform, uploaded some professional images of your high quality goods, ensured you meet all recommended security compliance measures and have selected the payment gateway that works best for your business the next thing you need to do is consider shipping.

Again, you have a host of shipping companies to choose from, to name a few:

Fastway South Africa

Aramex

The Courier Guy

Pargo is an order and collect shipping company where customers can pick up their orders from pre-selected drop-off points.

Other things to consider

  • You may want to include an option for payment to occur via PayPal as many customers are familiar with and trust this platform.
  • Highlighting to customers the payment facilities your business utilises is always is recommended to illustrate to your customers that you have safety measures in place.
  • As things advance at a fairly rapid rate in the world of digital, it is worthwhile staying abreast of changes in the e-commerce industry and regularly assessing the market offerings to ensure that you have the best option for your business needs.