You’ve got the product, the vision, the drive; now it’s time to make your first big decision: where to host your online store. Choosing online store hosting services may sound daunting, but we’re here to simplify it.

What should you look for in an eCommerce platform? What elements will be key to your business? Looking at store hosting can be overwhelming, but that’s why we’re here! More than anything, think in terms of growth: where is your business now, and where do you want it to be down the road? So what should your priorities be?

Online Store Hosting: 4 Features to Look for in an eCommerce Platform:

1. Ability to host a range of products with unlimited bandwidth
2. Quality customer support
3. Integrations with external services
4. Ease of site design

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1. Ability to host a range of products with unlimited bandwidth

So right now, you’re likely selling (or looking to sell) a more limited range of products. Whether it’s clothing, eBooks, business consulting, or just about anything else, there’s a good chance you’ll want to expand your business into new areas over time.

For example, you may be interested in selling workout plans online– that’s great. At some point, you may decide to move into teaching in-person classes or doing one-on-one coaching. Maybe even selling custom workout clothing with your branding. Will your eCommerce platform be able to grow and change with your business?

This is an image on the Founder U post that is about online store hosting and how to pick the best ecommerce platform. This image on Founder U is showing a woman typing on a computer to represent the use of a great online store hosting service that will help her build her ecommerce business and start selling online with an eCommerce platform.
The answer is not an automatic “yes.” Gumroad, for instance, is a powerful platform, but is not built to accommodate the sale of services. In the above example, a Gumroad user would want to seriously consider changing to another eCommerce platform.

Limited bandwidth is a problem on many eCommerce platforms as well. Again, an online store hosting only a few products when getting started is totally normal. You don’t, however, want to rely on an eCommerce platform that will cap your uploads and prevent your business from expanding to its full potential.

2. Quality customer support

Let’s face it- bugs happen, issues pop-up, technology fails. When the going gets tough, you need support ASAP to prevent lost sales. In particular, if you are not especially tech-oriented, quality customer support is a need.

So what does world-class CS look like? To start, look for 24/7 assistance. Problems can materialize at any time. Particularly if you’re working on your store around the schedule of a day job, you may find yourself needing help at odd hours.

Look for an eCommerce platform with a large help section built into their site. While a real person invested in your success is key, the ability to teach yourself and expand your own understanding of store hosting will allow you to explore new methods of selling and work more efficiently.

3. Integrations with external services

When you’re shopping for an online store hosting service, integrations within the platform might not be your first concern. That’s fair. Over time, however, as you grow your customer base and your business increases in complexity, you’ll need time-saving integrations to streamline your processes. You may be intimidated by the prospect of automating emails or tracking click-through-rates and SEO data. It’s likely not something you’ve done before.

 

Your skill-set will grow with your business, though, so while integrations may seem too complex or involved at first, you can master them with time. You may also surprise yourself- many of these tools are significantly more intuitive than they appear to be.

Fun fact: a 2017 study found that 69.23% of online shopping carts are abandoned. Getting back even a fraction of these lost sales can be huge. Integrations like abandoned cart emails and Mailchimp are a simple way to maintain consistent contact with potential and repeat customers without having to arduously send message after message.

Need more? The Selz “Help” section is loaded with useful information on setting up automations.

4. Ease of site design

Online store hosting encompasses a lot of features, but an important one to think about is site design. There are a lot of site design options out there. Keep in mind, though, that the most advanced editors are not always the most valuable for your business. If you’re not a web designer or don’t want to hire one, a simple store builder will make a huge difference. Look for one that’s easy to use, even without tech knowledge. It’s absolutely possible to make a beautiful website without professional design experience.

Buttons and widgets are a unique element of selling online. Make sure the store builder on your eCommerce platform allows not only for store hosting, but also gives you the option to put your product anywhere you have an online presence.

Check out this example of the Selz store builder:

Ready to get going? Spend some time brainstorming needs for your specific business, shop around, compare prices, and check out reviews on sites like Trustpilot. Don’t be a stranger- let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments!