For small business owners with little experience in technology, making the move to an online shop can be daunting. But managing an online business is actually quite similar to running a physical one - the challenge is just adapting to a different format. Although your instinct might be to hire a web developer, we recommend taking a different route - one that is simpler, more user-friendly and more cost-effective - using an e-commerce website builder.

These platforms anticipate the specialized needs and time constraints of small businesses and offer customized, affordable options. That way, you can invest the money you might have spent on a web developer to improve your business. With limited experience you can launch a website in minutes. Website builders provide professional templates, complete with tools that will help you with marketing and product display, a domain name and associated email account, data tracking services and payment processing capabilities.

Because there is a diverse array of website builders, it’s important that you examine the features and functions that are most crucial for your business in order to find a good fit. Some platforms might specialize in template galleries, while others are geared towards selection of apps and add-ons. A great website builder should provide the following:

 

  • A user-friendly experience for those with little-to-no tech knowledge.
  • Designer-quality, professional templates
  • Encrypted sales process to ensure secure transfers
  • Email and social media marketing options to expand your customer base
  • Diverse page options for different kinds of content, from product descriptions to FAQs to blog posts

 

Once you’ve set up your site, it’s also a good idea to link your business to social media to generate customer interactions on several web platforms. Think about including multimedia content like videos which can help communicate information about your store to potential customers. If you think you won’t get the hang of it, don’t worry - having clarity about your particular business goals will set you on the path to finding the right e-commerce platform. And for those who have a bit more web know-how, you might consider looking for features like customized website design and content management.

 

What to look for in a website builder

 

Affordability: Most website builders provide a range of plans, which can start from less than $10 per month, and often include a free trial period, which is a great opportunity to give your site a test drive before you commit. You should be able to adjust your plan as your business grows or diversifies - providers should include the possibility to scale up.

 

User-friendly interface: This is a time and stress saver! A great website builder has an extensive template selection to fit all needs. It should be simple to add pages to your website like the home, contact and about pages, as well as image galleries and videos. And you should have the capability to add features common to many businesses like a booking or reservation system, promo codes, email marketing or blog.

 

Search engine compatible: Compatibility with search engines means your site is more likely to appear in search results using keywords (SEO), and therefore more likely to attract new customers.