Ecommerce.co.za

How to choose the right ecommerce platform

Now is a great time for users in South Africa and worldwide to start an ecommerce business. There are more resources available than ever before, making it easy for even non-technical entrepreneurs to get their business up-and-running with ease.

When it comes to building the site itself, using an ecommerce platform is the right move for most entrepreneurs.

WooCommerce, a fully customisable, open source ecommerce platform, unpacks how platforms like WooCommerce can cover all the technical aspects of building an ecommerce site, from customisable themes, to a curated marketplace full of free and paid extensions to add unique functionality to any store. There is also an enthusiastic community of merchants and developers to learn from and grow alongside.

Third party platforms today are a one-stop shop for shop owners who want an easy, agile destination to handle merchandising, marketing, payments, shipping, and more, making launching an ecommerce store accessible to anyone.

1. Determine how ‘big’ your site should be

Many first-time ecommerce entrepreneurs are unsure how ‘big’ or ‘small’ a site should be. The reality is that functionality should be more important than how many pages or products you have.

WooCommerce’s advice:
  • Regardless of the number of products you’re selling, or the number of customers on your site at a time, you’ll want your site to feel fast and light to users. 
  • With an ecommerce platform like WooCommerce, you can start small, and scale your site as your business grows. 
  • This means you can get up-and-running quickly, and grow your product offering and functionality without having to re-build your site at every stage. 
  • For most merchants, finding an ecommerce platform that fits their needs, and can evolve with their business as they grow, is a crucial first step on their path to success.
2. Build the site of your dreams

Third party platforms mean that although you can build your own theme and template, you can also utilise free or paid themes and templates to build your online store.

WooCommerce’s advice:
  • It is not necessary to be a developer to create an ecommerce platform – although it is a good idea to work with a tech-savvy partner or upskill on what’s available and the top technology trends in the space. 
  • There are thousands of blog posts and YouTube videos available to assist you as well. 
3. Leverage plugins and integrations

There are hundreds of extensions that address the full spectrum of an entrepreneur’s needs. From payments to shipping to marketing and everything in between, third party ecommerce platforms offer solutions created by the platform’s team as well as its community that can help you grow your business.

WooCommerce’s advice:
  • Research what’s available through blogs and by spending time in a marketplace.
  • For example, the official WooCommerce Marketplace has free and premium extensions built by WooCommerce, third-party developer partners and external developers to help users customise their stores, market their products and grow their business. 
  • There are more than 760 products currently in the Marketplace, spanning themes, payments, merchandising, store customisations, marketing and more, all built or curated by the WooCommerce team. WooCommerce added more than 220 new products and solutions for merchants and developers in 2021.
  • Popular new products that South African users (and those from around the world) can obtain include Ultimate Memberships, Google reCaptcha for WooCommerce, Country Restrictions for WooCommerce and Google Tag Manager for WooCommerce PRO.
  • Keep your growth plans top of mind. Start-ups often have to invest in different plugins slowly, but you will reach a growth tipping point where integrated solutions are more streamlined and cost-effective.
Popular Payment Gateways that are available as plugins both specific to South Africa and worldwide include:
Popular Marketing Extensions that are available as plugins both specific to South Africa and worldwide include:
4. Understand your baseline costs

Like many third party platforms, WooCommerce is completely free to start.

WooCommerce’s advice:
  • Download and install the free WooCommerce plugin, which will give you everything you need to add ecommerce functionality to any WordPress site. 
  • There are a number of costs involved in running and maintaining a successful ecommerce website, so make sure you factor them in. These include:
    • Hosting and domains
    • Adding payments providers and other extensions to customise your store. 
  • With WooCommerce, you get the freedom to decide what to add to your store, and the ability to shop for the right solution for your needs. 
How can owners sign up?

Visit https://woocommerce.com if a customisable, open-source ecommerce platform sounds right for you.
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