If you’re considering starting a web-based business or would like to establish an online presence for your existing brick-and-mortar store, then there are some vital components that should be a part of your e-commerce website builder.
#1 Design Options: Designing your web store should allow your creative desires to be fulfilled. The look, flow and functionality of your store will be an important component of your website. A store that’s visually pleasing will make a great first impression to potential buyers. Your website builder software should allow you to make modifications to the HTML and CSS template (programming languages used to customize your site). However, it should also provide an easy to use interface to make aesthetic changes without needing to know any programming languages.
#2 Product Variations: You’ll want to know if your website builder software allows flexibility when creating product variations. For instance, if you’re selling t-shirts it’s important that your website is able to display the product variations such as size, color and style. Some website builders don’t allow for product variations and others only allow it when you sign up for the more expensive plans. This feature should be available regardless of what pricing plan you select.
#3 Inventory Control: Selling any type of product always means having an efficient inventory system in place to monitor stock levels. Low stock warnings and expected in-stock date notices to customers keeps them informed on your offerings and helps you to see what products need to be restocked. If you sell hundreds or even thousands of products, manually monitoring stock levels would be next to impossible. Make sure your website builder software provides this time-saving option for inventory purposes.
#4 Payment Processing Options: Having products to sell is one ingredient that you need for your web store. The other is payment processing when somebody decides to buy your products. Your website building platform should allow you to choose from a wide range of credit card processing systems (merchant processing systems). These systems make it possible to process a customer’s credit card information and make sure you are paid for those sales. You’ll have to sign up for a merchant account with one of these companies if you decide to go this route.
The other option that doesn’t require any monthly merchant fees is to utilize PayPal as your payment processing system. PayPal is an eBay owned company and is widely used by eBay buyers and sellers. It’s also widely used on independent web stores in large numbers. It’s an attractive option, especially for new start-up web stores because there are no equipment fees or monthly merchant fees. You just pay a small percentage of each sale. If this sounds appealing to you, make sure your website builder software allows for PayPal processing.
#5 SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is a term that describes good practices you should employ when creating the content of your website to make sure that the search engines, such as Google, can easily find your website. The more relative your products and descriptions are to somebody doing a Google search, the better chance they have of finding your website and products. SEO is a topic that you can fill several weeks and months worth of studying on, however, the very basic SEO principles as it relates to website design and structure should be provided by your website builder software. Make sure whatever software platform you choose has developed their platform to be search engine optimized.
#6 Coupon and Promotional Codes: Nothing creates more interest in your product then a good sale or promotion. You’ve probably even used promotional codes and online coupons when shopping on various online retail sites. Your customers will also be interested in your site and products if you have the option to create and accept promotional codes and coupons. As with the product variations option above, many website building platforms will only offer the option to create online coupons and promotions if you subscribe to a more expensive monthly hosting plan. You can find a few platforms out there that offers this option on all of their plans. We recommend one below.
#7 Product Return Processing: So you’re making sales on your new website. That’s great, but with sales will come product returns. Not having an efficient return policy or procedure will become evident at the wrong time, when your customers are requesting a return. Having a built-in product return request option right on your website will give your customers an easy way to fill out a return request and an easy way for you to handle those requests. Don’t make good customer service an after thought. Keep these things in mind as you design your store and it will avoid unnecessary hassles in the future.