The business of online retailing is booming and if you have a retail store the best decision for your business is taking that leap of faith and moving it to a fully functional online store. To launch a successful online store, you will have to think of an eCommerce solution that will not only allow you to showcase your inventory but also create an interactive shopping experience for your customers. This guide will help you to choose the right eCommerce solution for your business.
Hosted Solution or Licensed solution
A hosted solution is a maintenance free solution; the client usually pays a monthly subscription fee to a third party who maintains the software. A licensed solution on the other hand is software that the client purchases and maintains. Below is a comparison of the two;
Advantages of hosted Solutions
Hosted solutions are set up and ready to go, the only thing that the client needs to do is customize the platform with their company information and they can start using the software. The solutions come as an all in one package; the user does not have to worry about maintenance, troubleshooting or backups, they also come with customer support. Hosted solutions are relatively cheaper and have a price range for everyone.
The disadvantage of hosted solutions is that they lack the design freedom that comes with licensed packages; the user can only use the features that are provided by the host company. Hosted solutions also come with the disadvantage of paying the subscription as long as you want to access services.
Advantages of Licensed solutions
Licensed solutions come with design freedom which allows the user to control the look of his online store. The solutions also come with the advantage of flexibility on the features, this means you can add or remove the features as you like. Another major advantage is portability, with licensed solutions; you can switch companies easily without the risk of losing your data. The solutions come with a one-time fee and no monthly subscriptions.
The weakness of licensed software is that you have to get expertise to operate the software. Set up and design may also take longer than the hosted solutions. The one-time fee for the licensed solutions may be more expensive.
Most companies make a choice on the eCommerce software to use depending on the cost. Your budget will determine whether you will be buying or renting. The upfront fee for a licensed solution might be more. Buying will give you more flexibility but renting will allow you to focus more on your core business and leave software issues to the experts.
Whether you are buying or renting it is important to ensure that the platform that you choose has the basic features that include PCI compliance (standard for accepting online payments), secure check out, support and a reputable host. Other important features to consider may include e-products, product reviews, integrated POS software, information on exporting products and merchant accounts.
Your business model will help you define the eCommerce solution that you need. The needs of your company be it the need to put your electronic products on the site or the heavier reliance of syncing inventory across multiple platforms will determine the type of solution that you choose.