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Hardfacts on Software – The cost of Cheap 3

The more I dig into this topic, the more examples I find about the cost of cheap! Remember we are looking at factors that influence the setup and running cost of your e-commerce store, and it is not all that obvious.
So here are a few more factors to consider when deciding which platform to choose and which vendor to go with when setting up your e-commerce store.
Flexibility
Does your shop offer the option to change its theme during different seasons? Can you setup two stores on the same database? Can you move the database to a different vendor if you choose? These are all questions that need answers. In many cases, changing the theme for a season can increase sales by 10 or even 40% or more. What’s the cost of not being able to do this? Many cheap solutions don’t offer this flexibility – so beware.
Vendor Expertise
Are you working with a bunch of guys straight out of University? Have they done this before? How much complexity can they handle? What if something goes wrong? Who will they call? Are they just designers or do they understand more about e-commerce? E-commerce is not just about a nice website. It’s 10% nice website and 90% everything else. Does your vendor understand distribution, logistics, business process management, payment gateways, courier integrations, ERP integrations, CRM, conversion marketing, multichannel sales and search engine optimisation?
How many websites have they done? How many e-commerce sites have they done? How successful are these? Do they have case studies? Do they have customers that rave about them as a service provider?
Support
How is the vendors’ support? Do they have a proper helpdesk in place 24/7? Can you follow the support issues on the web in real-time? How will they monitor your server? How do they do backups? How do they ensure redundancy? How do they keep your e-commerce store updated with the latest trends, technologies and security issues?
Scalability
You’re in this for profit right? And profit comes from sales. If you do things right then more sales mean more profit. It also means more traffic and higher costs. Can your solution accommodate your business when it grows? You might want to start small – but you are thinking big. So ensure that what you are building now will not fall over in two years. What about having thousands of hits on your site per day or per hour? How well does your platform search through tens of thousands of products? How well does it filter for different attributes for tens of thousands of products?
Integrations
Now here is a bunch of stuff to consider. Let me name a few. Can your e-commerce platform integrate with your accounting package? Most small/cheap one’s cannot. This means you will be double processing your orders and there is a disconnect between what customers see on your website and what you see about your customers in the accounting system. Can you even fathom the cost of this? Can you imagine the cost of double processing everything, then making mistakes and having unhappy customers? How do you put a value on a happy vs. an unhappy customer? So consider carefully how you get started.
Can I use any payment gateway?
Here is one that unfortunately catches out many budding online entrepreneurs. They start with a cheap online shopping cart service, build their site, setup everything with long hours of labor, only to find out that that cart doesn’t work in their country as there is no payment gateway that supports the country. So now what? Back to square one. Start all over again. So, heed my words, decide on a payment gateway first and then find a shopping cart/vendor that supports your payment gateway.
So, lots to consider when starting out selling online. Cheap is not always low cost. Sometimes it is, and then you get good value, but very often cheap is the expensive route to go. So consider the issues I have raised in the last three weeks, and good luck with that buying decision.
Enjoy the shopping!

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