How to Choose the Right E-Commerce Software and Services

Retail is one of the industries that has been flourishing for decades. With the technological advancements and easier access to the internet, the digital variant of retail, i.e, eCommerce became a popular way of shopping. In 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $4.28 trillion and are projected to reach $5.4 trillion by 2022 (Source: Statista). However, dabbling in eCommerce is not as simple as setting up a website and listing your products on it. You need to consider the marketing strategy, scalability, transaction security, running costs, and other factors beforehand for a smooth operation. Earlier, businesses had to build their own in-house platform which was laborious and costly along with having severe restrictions. Thankfully, now exist multiple eCommerce platforms that offer a high level of customizations, flexibility, scalability, and dedicated developer community that allows businesses to outsource the headache of setting up their online store.

Choosing the right eCommerce platform could be the first step to having a popular and robust eCommerce store. In this article, we shall look into the multiple eCommerce software and service providers and list out the pros and cons of each.

What is an eCommerce Software?
In a nutshell, an eCommerce software is the centralized console that allows a business to manage its different operations such as running a storefront/website, managing the inventory, monitoring sales & deliveries, running marketing campaigns, and many others. Whether you are a small startup or giant enterprise level business, an eCommerce software offers features that scales as per the needs.

In the modern environment, there exist multiple eCommerce platforms and softwares offering a mix and match of all the different tools a business would require for their daily operations. Since everything being offered may not be what you are looking for, it is important to choose the right eCommerce software after enough research and analysis.

How to choose the right eCommerce Software? Define The Current Business Needs
Before hitting up Google to find you the right eCommerce Software, it is important to define the business needs clearly. At the bare minimum, the eCommerce platform should support listing products and accepting online payments. Anything above that are the features you wish your software has. Yet, as the number of offered features increase, the cost of the software or the license to use it also increases. So, before jumping the bandwagon, have clarity regarding the following two crucial factors:

Cost
The spending power of an online retailer with a handful of products would be different compared to that of an enterprise level seller with products in multiple categories. Hence, the retailer spending on an enterprise level software is an overkill and easy way to close shop quickly. Moreover, when running an eCommerce business, the only cost incurred is not the license cost but also certain hidden charges. In addition to the initial development costs, there are four hidden costs behind an eCommerce platform:

Maintenance Cost: Whether you opt for a self-hosted eCommerce solution or SaaS platform, you will incur periodic maintenance costs. In case of the self-hosted, the costs will be divided between server operation, hiring a dedicated technical staff, and utilities. In the case of SaaS, you pay a monthly or annual fee and everything is managed by the service provider.
Upgradation Cost: Online security is an evergoing battle as ill-willed people try to run malicious code to rob websites and their customers, while platforms come up with new patches and updates to cover any loopholes. However, while upgrading, certain features or functionalities may break and require expert help. Moreover, the downtime during upgradation can impact the sales heavily unless you have an alternate server running (which requires operation costs as well).
New Features/ Improvement Costs: Platforms offer 3rd party feature support that allows certain functionalities that improve the user experience for the customers or store owners. However, since they are 3rd party plugins, the developers charge separately for using their tools.
Changes to the UI/UX: Change is only constant and so any changes you make to the design or certain UX elements requires the assistance of a developer which is covered when using a self-hosted solution but in case of SaaS, is charged separately.
Scalability
Most business owners tend to stick to their eCommerce platform when expanding as platform migration is a tedious and expensive affair. However, in dire situations where the goals of the business no longer align with what the platform is offering, you would have to bite the bullet and migrate. Hence, to avoid troubles in the near future, it is important to consider the scalability of your business. With the right ecommerce software, growth is easily in reach. Hence, you should look for an Ecommerce software that regularly invests in and upgrades its platform. This will more likely help you stay ahead of your competition and on top of consumer behavior trends.

Explore the Available Platforms
(Image Source: Builtwith)

Out of the innumerable eCommerce platforms, tools, and softwares, there are four that are most popular. Here is a basic rundown of each.

Shopify
Shopify is one of the most popular and trusted eCommerce platforms. They offer multiple levels of their software based on the current size of the business.

Shopify Lite – An integration into existing website or social media page
Shopify Basic – A webstore and blog hosted on Shopify platform with basic eCommerce features
Shopify Plan – A full fledged eCommerce store with all the features an eCommerce store requires such as customizable website, online store, blog, even an abandoned cart recovery.
Shopify Advance – A step up over Shopify plan with provision for unlimited product uploads
Shopify Plus – Enterprise level platform with tools and features needed for smooth operation
Plans start from $29 per month for Shopify Basic and $299 per month for Shopify Advance. In terms of security, you and your customers have 256-bit SSL security on all transactions and cover six PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards. The platform supports integrations with 2500 popular apps and provides in-house analytics tools for easy monitoring. From a complete novice to an expert, Shopify offers a great all-in-one ecommerce solution.

Magento
Magento is another popular eCommerce platform that is available in two variants – Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. Magento Open Source is a free version that can be downloaded, customized, and is self-hosted. Magento Commerce is a subscription-fee and cloud hosted platform. Being a self-hosted platform, Magento offers a high level of customization but might be a rocky road for someone with limited knowledge. Pre-built themes are available in Magento Marketplace but are charged separately and require the assistance of a developer. In terms of security, Magento has a designated Security Center that periodically offers patches & updates. Magento supports thousands of integrations and Business Intelligence Dashboards provides advanced customer reporting in Magento Commerce. Magento Open Source is free to download and use while Magento Commerce charges a hefty sum.

BigCommerce
BigCommerce is another SaaS eCommerce platform offering flexible and robust eCommerce solutions to business owners. Depending on your budget, BigCommerce is available in 4 variants:

Standard – $29.95/Month
Plus – $79.95/Month
Pro – $299.95/Month
Enterprise – Custom Pricing
In either plan, BigCommerce charges zero transaction fees. Initial store set up is cakewalk and comes with 10 free themes. The servers are PCI DSS 3.2 certified and offer DDoS protection. BigCommerce supports most of the common applications and integrations out of the box. The platform’s Ecommerce Analytics and Insights reports offer stats on your store’s performance.

WooCommerce
The open-source ecommerce plugin of WordPress, WooCommerce lets you sell your products from your existing WordPress site. Being a plugin of WordPress, the initial installation and store set up is very easy. It supports the themes available on the store and is completely SEO friendly. Being self hosted, the security lies in your hands. The plugin itself is free but the hosting and domain fees run up the operating costs.

Conduct analysis based on Core Factors
You may still be on the fence about shortlisting the right eCommerce software for you. However, things may become clearer when you compare the following core factors offered by each against your current and future requirements.

Popularity
The more popular a platform is, the more strong the community it will have. It becomes easier to find the right resources and developers and you have a better choice when it comes to the cost of each. Plugins and support for them will be more for a popular platform.

Integration Support
In conjunction with the previous statement, the more API integrations and 3rd party plugins a platform supports, the easier it would be for you to manage your store on your own. Moreover, you can find special plugins that improve the user experience for your visitors.

SEO Friendliness
Since your online store is basically a website, you need to optimize it regularly to be SEO compliant. If changing the page title or description requires you to jump through hoops or take the help of a developer, it is not user friendly. Moreover, sub-par analytics would give you less insights about your visitors and prove counterproductive.

Features offered
Any eCommerce platform should provide the following features by default.

Robust catalog – How easy it is to manage your inventory and keep it updated
Flexible pricing – Any changes to the prices to certain products during a promotion is automatically reflected across the entire store.
Personalization Engine – To suggest products to the customers based on their past purchases and shopping history
eCommerce analytics – A business can only flourish if it receives the correct feedback and hence the platform should have their in-house analytics tools or atleast support integration of third party plugins.
Customer review system – Let the reviews from your customer turn into user generated content to attract more customers and build trust. Moreover, negative feedback can help you learn your shortcomings.
Multiple payment gateway support – To accept multiple payment options such as PayPal, credit card, and debit card.
Wrapping Up
From our expertise, for a complete novice, Shopify or WooCommerce are suitable as it offers complete customization and plugin support, while being robust enough to handle scalability. BigCommerce and Magento are better tuned towards businesses with a local presence and budget to hire staff to manage the online store. However, don’t take our word for it. Refer to the above article and compare the offerings of each against your requirements to find the right one.

Key Points from a Janitorial Service for Disinfecting Your Bathroom

A professional janitorial service is a good place to get information about how to disinfect your bathroom. When you know this is a household duty you are eventually going to have to face as a homeowner, you have to do something. Just flying by the seat of your pants has no guarantee of success. It is best to learn the key points and then get to it. No more procrastinating now. Let’s get that bathroom disinfected!

Our Janitorial Service Distinguishes between Cleaning and Disinfecting

As we consult our professional janitorial service, we find that they tell us there is a big difference between cleaning a bathroom and getting down and dirty and actually disinfecting it. Cleaning simply requires a bit of cleanser, a wet sponge and some elbow grease. However, to disinfect the bathroom, you will want to eliminate more than just dirt and grime. You want to kill bacteria and germs.

Certain disinfectant agents will do more than others. Strong ingredients are required to kill infectious germs. The place to find out what sorts of bacteria the disinfectant kills is the label. Read it before you purchase the product. The best ingredients include:

1. Ammonium
2. Sodium Hypochlorite
3. Isopropyl alcohol
4. Quaternary

A Step-by-Step Guide from our Janitorial Service

Getting a step-by-step guide through this nefarious chore is helpful. First and foremost, you must have the disinfectant products you will use to clean at hand. Note the safety precautions on the labels of any of the products you are going to use. Do a regular cleaning of the bathroom first to get up the most dirt possible. Then you use the disinfectant, applying it to the surfaces you wish to disinfect and letting it sit for a short time. The instructions with the product may tell you the length of time necessary.

When the required time has elapsed, wipe off the disinfectant with a paper towel. This is so you don’t have to have rags containing any infectious germs lay around until you can do a laundry. Wash your hands thoroughly, even if you have worn gloves during the process.

Hiring a Professional Janitorial Service

If you have a commercial enterprise and followed these instructions, the same results will occur – you will have a germ-free restroom environment for your employees. But according to one professional janitorial service, Consolidated Facility, it isn’t always enough just to disinfect a restroom.

There are many functions involved in keeping restrooms pristine for employees, not to mention maintaining office spaces and keeping them clean and safe for all who work there. You want to ensure the duct system is clean and not pumping in allergens. You want to ensure kitchens and break rooms are as clean as possible so employees stay healthy and don’t get sick and miss work. You want to have offices dust-free with spotless carpets.

Hiring a professional janitorial service can get all these things off your plate and put them where they belong, with experts who are trained in the best measures to clean office spaces.

Effective Strategies for Social Media Advertising: Boosting Business Growth – AptonWorks

In today’s digital age, social media has become a powerful platform for businesses to connect with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive conversions. Social media advertising, when implemented with effective strategies, can take your business to new heights. In this blog, we will explore key strategies for social media advertising that can maximize the impact of your social media marketing efforts and help your business thrive.

Understand Your Target Audience:
Before diving into social media advertising, it’s crucial to understand your target audience. Conduct market research to identify their demographics, interests, and behaviors. This knowledge will help you create tailored and relevant content that resonates with your audience and increases engagement.

Set Clear Goals:
Define clear and measurable goals for your social media advertising campaigns. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, having specific objectives allows you to track progress and optimize your strategies accordingly.

Choose the Right Social Media Platforms:
Different social media platforms cater to diverse audience demographics and preferences. Select the platforms that align with your target audience and business objectives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are popular choices. Utilize social media marketing services for business to leverage the expertise of professionals in choosing the right platforms for your business.

Develop a Solid Content Strategy:

Craft compelling and engaging content that grabs the attention of your audience. Use a mix of informative, entertaining, and visually appealing content formats such as images, videos, infographics, and blog posts. Incorporate relevant keywords like social media management for business and social media marketing benefits for business to enhance search engine optimization.

Leverage Paid Advertising Features:
Social media platforms offer robust paid advertising features that allow you to target specific audiences, set budgets, and track performance. Utilize these tools to reach a wider audience, increase visibility, and drive desired actions. Consider partnering with a social media marketing agency to optimize your advertising campaigns for better results.

Monitor and Analyze Results:
Regularly monitor and analyze the performance of your social media advertising campaigns. Track metrics such as reach, engagement, click-through rates, and conversions. This data will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your strategies and help you make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.

Optimize and Experiment:
Continuously optimize your social media advertising strategies based on the insights gained from analytics. Experiment with different ad formats, target audiences, and messaging to find what works best for your business. Stay updated with the latest trends and features offered by social media management platforms to stay ahead of the competition.

Conclusion:
Social media advertising is a powerful tool for businesses to expand their reach, engage with their target audience, and drive business growth. By implementing effective strategies such as understanding your audience, setting clear goals, leveraging paid advertising features, and monitoring results, you can unlock the full potential of social media marketing for your business.

Consider partnering with a social media management agency to streamline your efforts and maximize your return on investment. With a well-executed social media marketing business plan, you can achieve remarkable results and establish a strong online presence. Start implementing these strategies today and elevate your social media advertising game for business success.