As more people elect entrepreneurship over traditional nine-to-five, many will turn toward e-commerce where there are seemingly endless opportunities. As they begin their journey in setting up their business, they will be inundated with options – to outsource the website-building or DIY or perhaps sell through Social Media and Marketplaces (like Etsy). Most would agree that having your own website is a necessity nowadays. It shows the world you are serious about what you do (credibility), and gives you control and brand-building opportunities. Going the DIY route is your best bet for saving money, and there are dozens of platforms where you can launch quickly with no technical knowledge (including Shopline that we created). Here are some of the things to consider when evaluating a DIY Website platform.
Design & Templates: First impressions are most important, so you want to go with a platform that provides you with a wide selection of templates and designs to choose from. Are templates easy to set-up? Can you easily switch between templates? Find out before you commit sign up for the platform.
Tools: As you grow, you may need things like a robust order management system, bulk import/export, couponing, membership and communications tools. Find out what types of tools are available so that you can easily upgrade if needed. It’ll save you a lot of time down the road if you go with a platform that you can grow with.
Support: At some point you may get stuck on a technical problem and FAQ’s won’t suffice. Having direct access to customer support that can answer your questions can make a huge difference. Does the platform offer this?
Localisation: Does your website need to be in multiple languages? Then look for platforms that can support this requirement, as well as those that come with it like payment options, logistics, and customer service, among other things.
Security: With recent hackings, cybersecurity is something startups are paying more attention to. If you are processing credit cards, you need to consider what types of encryption services the platform comes with.
Open Source vs. Hosted: If you have the technical knack to tweak and tinker, an open source platform (like WordPress) might be the right platform for you. Unlike hosted solutions (like Wix and Shopline), open-platforms give users access to the code so that you can customize whatever you wish. While open source platforms give extreme flexibility and control, they require a great deal of technical know-how to put it all together to take advantage of all the features. Additionally, you will also need to buy your domain name and find a hosting provider. So if you want something that just works with a few clicks, without too much hassle, a hosted DIY solution might be your best bet.
By Raymond Yip, Co-founder & CEO at Shopline