How to find the right way to supercharge your online sales » SMEInsider

How to find the right way to supercharge your online sales

More and more SMEs are taking advantage of e-commerce websites to sell direct to their customers, but it’s important to select a model that works for your business.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of e-commerce platform to choose from: Hosted, Off-the-Shelf and Custom Built. All three have their unique pros and cons, and vary widely in cost of use and set-up.


Hosted Platforms

These are existing websites like Shopify, Amazon Webstore and Bigcommerce that require no technical expertise to set up. Most have an extensive choice of themes, widgets and customisable elements that you can “drag and drop” to build your site – but very niche or ambitious site ideas might not be possible. For many people, especially those without an IT developer background, the restrictions are outweighed by the ease of using a tried-and-tested model, ready-built model.

Price range: Shopify rates range from US $29-$179 per month; Amazon Webstore has a fixed price of $79 with 2% transaction fee.


Off-the-Shelf Platforms

These are ready-built systems, primarily aimed at web developers and which generally require at least some coding experience. Unlike hosted platforms, these allow you to access the source code and modify at your wish… or your peril. Some platforms, like CS Cart, can be purchased relatively cheaply, whilst open source options can be downloaded free of charge. Most have some form of customer support or forum system, but if the system crashes and you don’t have the skills to fix it, you might be in trouble.

Price range: CS Cart costs $385 for a lifetime licence. Opencart, Prestashop and Magento are free, open source options.


Custom Built Platforms

If there are no existing platforms that meet your requirements, you could opt to create your own. Since this will be built from scratch, probably with the help of a team of developers, costs could escalate quickly depending on your requirements – anything from thousands to millions, if you’re thinking really big. For SMEs just moving into e-commerce, the costs might be prohibitive. But, if you absolutely need a site to perform certain functions, for example to link in a particular way to your fulfilment software, it might be worth considering.

Price range: Anything from the £1000s to the £100,000,000s – if you’re thinking really big!


Our advice:

Whichever platform you go with, make sure it’s not only adequate to support your current needs, but will also support your business as it grows. That’s not to say that you should spend a fortune on development before you’ve tried out a few free or cheap options to see what works. But, if there are certain functions and features that you won’t be able to do without further down the line, it’s worth addressing these early on, rather than trying to prise yourself away from a not-quite-right system just as business is booming!

  • While choosing the best ecommerce platforms for your eCommerce stores, make sure to look at the level of customization, a platform is offering, flexible shopping cart, easy shipping and payment process, and most important, the system that handles the inventory and order. “Sumo Commerce” is a good example of an eCommerce platform that serves all requirements. Find it here,