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How to choose the right online store platform for your business

“I want to start selling online. Can Square help me?”

 

We hear this question all the time from our sellers. There are so many options, and getting started online can feel overwhelming, especially for sellers who have not owned an ecommerce business before. One of the first decisions you’ll make once you’ve determined you’re ready to make the move online? Choosing a web platform.

 

Fortunately, since Square works with a wide range of ecommerce platforms to power online payments, we’ve learned a thing or two about the various options. Here are some questions to ask yourself to guide your decision-making:

  1. Do you already have a website?
  2. If not: do you want to hire someone to build the site, or do it yourself? What about managing it?
  3. How much to spend? Monthly fees or one up-front investment?
  4. Do you need your in-store inventory to be synced up with your online sales?

 

Do you already have a website?

 

If you like your current website, or are not ready to invest in overhauling a new site right now, you may want to consider adding ecommerce capabilities to your existing site. Here are a few ways to do this while using Square for payments:

 

  • Upgrade to the ecommerce plan on your current website platform: if you use a platform like Weebly or Wix, you can simply upgrade to a plan that includes online store functionality.
  • Add an extension:
    • WooCommerce: Is your site built on WordPress? WooCommerce is the ecommerce extension for WordPress sites and may be a good option to add an online store to your site. The best part? They have a Square-WooCommerce plugin so you can take your payments through Square and sync up your in-person and online inventory.
    • Ecwid: Another platform that integrates with Square, Ecwid allows you to add a shopping cart to any existing site, such as Squarespace, Joomla, Wordpress, and more.
    • Use Square APIs: If you work with a developer, he or she may be able to build the shopping cart functionality you desire, and then connect it to Square payments via API.

 

Do you want to hire someone to build the site, or do it yourself? What about managing it?

 

Square works with several DIY platforms that make it easy to build a professional-looking site, no coding required. This is a great option for sellers who want to get started quickly and want the flexibility to make changes and manage their website backend on their own.

 

Even if you’re not comfortable designing and building the site yourself, you may want to think ahead to when you’re managing the site later. Do you want to keep a web developer on call, or hire one to your staff? If not, you could consider hiring someone to build the site for you but ask them to use a website builder like Weebly, BigCommerce, Wix, or GoCentral (GoDaddy) that will be easy for you to make updates to later.

 

More tech-savvy or comfortable outsourcing site maintenance to an agency, developer, or employee? Open source or self-hosted platforms like WooCommerce, OpenCart, Magento, Drupal Commerce, and ZenCart offer much greater flexibility and customizability compared to the DIY-style platforms.

 

See all Square-compatible platforms.

 

How much to spend? Monthly fees or one up-front investment?

 

The answers to these questions may depend on how much you intend to make selling online a core piece of your business.

 

There are a wide range of costs associated with ecommerce platforms. For some sellers, an inexpensive monthly rate will make the most sense; for example, if you want to be able to offer online purchasing but do not plan to invest significant time or resources on promotion or logistics to make it a big portion of your business. For sellers who are serious about building an online sales channel, a low-price plan is tempting but you may want to consider a more expensive, full-featured option that will help you with the tools you need to grow and manage your online business (e.g. SEO, marketing integrations, shipping, inventory management, etc).

 

The decision of paying a monthly fee vs. a one-time investment involves some personal preference. With hosted platforms that have SaaS pricing, the cost is spread out over time which is convenient, and you can choose to upgrade, downgrade, or turn off your site based on business performance. But some sellers feel they do not not fully own their website, as they cannot simply move it to another platform if needed. In that case, you may prefer a self-hosted option. If you go with a self-hosted option, be aware that while there may not be a monthly SaaS cost, there will certainly be add-on costs, both up-front and recurring. Be sure to research and add up all the various extensions, themes, hosting services, etc. that you will need for your site to get a sense for the all-in cost before moving forward.

 

Do you need your in-store inventory to be synced up with your online sales?

 

All our ecommerce partners allow you to sell in-store and online with Square and see all your sales in one place. But some sellers find that also having their catalogs and inventory counts automatically sync across in-person and online channels is a major time- and headache-saver. This can help you avoid accidentally selling the same item online and in-store, and make inventory management easier. Plus, if you already have a catalog built in Square POS, you can import it into your online store with a few clicks, making setup a bit easier.

 

The ecommerce platforms that currently allow you to sync your Square in-person and online catalogs and inventory counts are:

 

I hope these questions can help you evaluate which platform is best for your business. What are we missing? Please leave additional questions if you have them, and comment if you can share your own decision-making experience with other sellers!

Message 1 of 4
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3 REPLIES 3
timothyreed

Re: How to choose the right online store platform for your business

How do I open up a store that has delivery options for food? I really think that this feature is a no brianer to support. Seems like Square needs to start working on making the customer happy instead of investors. New Square POS anyone. This is a compleatley unneeded product that is going to eat up precious development time needed in supporting/upgrading the web/iOS software. Please start fixing the issues with the products you have. No native KDS display. No way to open a food web store, consistant dropped orders and printers/stand disconnecting are just a few.  If I loose another order because FreshKDS dropped the order I sware Im going out and buying a competitors POS. Also What about delivery? Why cant I open up a store and have a button for delivery that sends a note when the order has been placed with address and contact info? Why?

Message 2 of 4
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Admin

Re: How to choose the right online store platform for your business

Hello @timothyreed welcome to the Seller Community! 

 

If you're interested in offering delivery to your customers I recommend taking a look at our integration with BigCommerce. Currently BigCommerce is the only Ecommerce  partner that offers delivery options at this time. 

 

I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you've been having with Fresh KDS. I know a lot of issues with Fresh KDS stem from Wi-Fi connection. We have a Fresh KDS Get Started article on the Square Support Center that has some troubleshooting steps if you're experiencing issues. 

 

I'd be happy to help out with any issues you're experiencing with Square Point of Sale. I'll keep an eye out for your reply. 🙂

Message 3 of 4
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kselden

Re: How to choose the right online store platform for your business

Just thought it would be helpful to post that at this time the current big commerce does not auto sync with your in store sales thru square. In fact it creates many errors that can mess up your inventory horribly if you have the inventory linked between the two. They have told me for the past 5 months they are trying to correct this error. I would not advise signing up for big commerce if that is a feature you want.

 

Also, weebly informed me they do not auto remove or sync the inventory for in store sales thru square as indicated above. 

 

Message 4 of 4
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