By Mike Auger, president and CEO, Pinnacle Cart
Many online retailers just completed a "hair on fire" end to the 2012 holiday shopping season. Now that you can rest and take a four-hour vacation, it is time to start planning for 2013, and ensure that you have built your store on an ecommerce system worthy of your business. To see if your ecommerce platform passes the test, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did your storefront generate the amount of sales you expected in 2012?
- Does your ecommerce system have all the features you need to grow your business?
- Are you getting the support, services and consultation you expect from your ecommerce solution provider?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it is time to do a thorough review of your ecommerce system. If you are using an older platform for ecommerce, you may feel like you do not have the time or money to convert to and learn a new system. With the significant advancements in recent years you cannot afford not to. The ecommerce industry is very competitive, benefiting online business owners with better features and services.
Today, it should be standard to have online, mobile and Facebook stores from the same ecommerce provider. Simply adding these options can trigger a ten to 15 percent increase in overall sales, due to the additional exposure of your products and services. Additionally, tools that allow you to distribute your products to highly trafficked sites, such as Google, eBay and Amazon, are commonplace with the top ecommerce platforms and provide another outlet to sell your products. Without these features, you may be missing out on an increase of 15 to 20 percent in sales. That can buy a lot of 5-hour energy drinks as you burn the candle on both ends.
As you start investigating ecommerce platforms, you will find there are a lot of choices on the market and the process can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many great websites that specialize in researching ecommerce solutions. These sites take a lot of the work off your plate by providing unbiased recommendations based on the needs of your business. One good resource is www.zippycart.com. Zippycart.com has evaluated and ranked the top shopping cart options available, and provides detailed reviews from ecommerce experts, customer reviews and comparison tools.
Once you narrow down your list of options, take advantage of the free trials that are available to new customers. This will give you an understanding of the usability of the software and also give you a feel for the company's sales and support teams. Look for a company that is willing to be your consultant and can answer all your business questions. Since this will hopefully be the last solution you ever need, make sure ecommerce providers offer customization services to the software, so it meets all of your business needs going forward. Cost will not be a major consideration, as the monthly fee is less than $40 a month for a store with a few hundred products.
Choosing the right ecommerce platform is critical to your long-term success. Spend the time necessary to make the best decision now so you do not have to make another change in a few years.
Mike Auger is president and CEO of Pinnacle Cart, a hosted shopping cart and ecommerce software application that allows you to create, manage and effectively market your business.
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