26 Aug How to avoid overpaying for ecommerce features
When you’re buying a subscription to a hosted shopping cart software package, there are some things you need to be wary of, or else you might end up paying extra per month for features that you could have had as standard.
In general, and this applies whenever you are costing out any project for your business, make sure you understand the full cost of setting it up. With everything considered for your online shop, how much will the shopping cart part of your package cost you?
For example, here are some general things to consider:
- What forms of support do you get?
- Is there a user guide/manual or online reference guide (knowledge base) where you can look up questions, “how to”s or problems you are having?
- What if you can’t find what you want, does the provider offer an extra support system?
- Does the system give you unlimited queries per month or is it limited to a certain number per month, per year or per domain?
- Who will provide you with support? Are they Australian based so will understand what it’s like to run a business in Australia?
- Is the support team available in weekends and on public holidays?
- If the web server your site is on goes down at 2am in the morning, does the provider have emergency support to get the server back up and running again? Or do you have to wait until the next business day?
- What form of help do you get with marketing? It’s unrealistic to expect a shopping cart provider to do all your marketing for you for the price of an affordable monthly package (and that includes search engine marketing which is also known as “SEO”) but that doesn’t mean they can’t point you in the right direction or provide reports to help you judge exactly where you’re at in respect to your competitors. In order to get a complete marketing strategy, you would need to find a reliable digital agency and let them do the heavy lifting.
- Does the feature set for the cart include Australian features? If so, is this configured for you out of the box? Or are they generic features that you have to adapt yourself for Australia?
- Who does the design for you? If you have to do it yourself do you have the skills to produce a world class design that will compete with the growing online marketplace? If not, do you have the budget to pay someone to do you a design? Or, does the shopping cart provider include this service at an affordable price? (yes, design services included in your website as a built-in feature is an Ozcart ecommerce standard offering…)
- What are the provider’s domain name prices? (You don’t have to buy a domain name through your shopping cart provider, however, no matter who you use)
- What are the provider’s SSL certificate renewal prices? SSL is a global technology used to protect your checkout (and customer’s personal information) from being eavesdropped upon by hackers. It’s strongly recommended and even required by some payment providers.
- How much disk space and bandwidth do you get for your money? Is this reasonable or will you run out?
- How many products do you get? Or are the number of products unlimited?
- Do you have to pay transaction fees to your shopping cart provider as well as your gateway? Gateways and banks charge a fee for transactions, but do you want your cart provider to clip the ticket as well?
Once you’ve answered these general questions, it’s worthwhile checking what else the shopping cart provider offers and whether you have to pay extra for them. Don’t pay for extra for something that you could have had included in the monthly price to begin with.
Here are some things that are included as standard features in all Ozcart ecommerce packages. If any of these are important to you, make sure that you don’t end up paying extra (either for installation or per month) for these features that you could have had as standard with Ozcart:
- Custom design – many cart providers have a seemingly low up-front fee but you have to do the design work yourself or pay someone else to do it. Ozcart charges a design fee up front and includes integration into the Ozcart system, it is an exceptionally affordable option relative to the design services of both specialist web designers and other cart providers in the Australian market. There’s a block editor for you to refine and change elements of the initial design later as well
- Run your own affiliate programme
- Mobile optimised design storefront- compatible with iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry
- Write your own news blog
- Output products to shopping comparison services via XML Product data feeds (e.g. places like shopping.com, myshopping.com.au, getprice.com.au)
- Sell downloadable products (digital goods)
- Sell B2B (Business to Business). Features like wholesale pricing with multiple levels of wholesale prices, order minimums etc are standard
- Australian payment gateways
- Australian shipping methods – shipping prices calculated from multiple dispatch points/vendors potentially using different shipping methods (e.g. some items shipped from China, others from Perth via different methods/pricing structures)
- Unlimited email addresses
- Support for fraud detection through the Maxmind service if you are a member of this
- Gift certificates
- SEO marketing reports – competitor analysis, keyword rankings, search engine submission, link popularity analysis, site visibility (rankings reports)
Don’t pay more than you need to.