Expert Interview with John Young on eCommerce Solutions

For small business owners preparing to expand their brand from a brick-and-mortar operation to a digital one, it can be tempting to select the most budget-friendly shopping cart solution on the market and call it a day.

But, cautions John Young, vice president of sales for eCommerce vendor ShopSite, this short-sightedness can end up costing you in the long term.

"You want to make sure the solution is well supported and easy to learn," he says. "You also will want to make sure that you are not going to outgrow the product or get stuck with a product that cannot be moved to a new host if your needs change."

Rather than picking the first low-cost option on the market, make sure to ask questions like:

  • Will this solution grow with me?
  • How is support offered?
  • Will they continue to develop as the business landscape changes?

And finally, be sure to try a demo before making the commitment so you'll know upfront if the service meets their needs.

We recently checked in with John to learn more about ShopSite and find out what every business owner needs to know before settling on an eCommerce solution. Here's what he had to say:

Tell us about ShopSite...what products and services do you offer?

ShopSite has been around since 1996. We provide a shopping cart solution that allows you to easily build your website and sell your tangible or digital products online. If you already have a website, you can bolt on our shopping cart by adding order buttons links to your existing site.

Who should be using them?

Anydiv can use ShopSite. We have a broad spectrum of end users. Anywhere from grandma who wants to sell homemade doilies out of her garage to larger businesses selling millions of dollars in online merchandise a year. We refer to this as the SME market (small to medium enterprise).

What sets ShopSite apart from other eCommerce solutions?

ShopSite is very easy to use and very versatile. We also take pride in helping our customers navigate the waters of eCommerce by offering tons of help resources and support. As your needs increase, ShopSite allows you to grow without needing to change solutions.

Many of the competing solutions in the market do not allow the merchant to choose where they host their site. We have hundreds of great hosting partners that offer our product. Alternatively, if you prefer your existing host, you can generally have ShopSite installed there as well. ShopSite will run on just about any server.

What are the most common questions/concerns/problems business owners come to you with when it comes to choosing shopping cart software?

We get questions about cost, ease of use, available support, available features, security/PCI, design flexibility/templates, SEO compatible, mobile-support options, social media support, WordPress compatibility, etc....and we have great answers for all of these questions.

What do you think are the most common mistakes online retailers make when it comes to setting up shop?

If you are going to be successful, you want to pick a product that will meet your needs now and in the future. Many merchants start with a low-end shopping cart and end up outgrowing it, and then they need to start over with another solution.

What can business owners do to ensure their stores are secure? How can they reassure customers about the security of the site and of any transactions that occur on it?

In ShopSite, we have a feature that lets the merchant know their security level. The most secure option is to use a payment solution that does not require the payment information to ever cross your server. We also offer several options for securing a store, including symmetric and Asymmetric encryption, and using a separate database that is not stored on the server, etc.

ShopSite also presents a security badge on the site that will help the merchant see if the store has been configured securely. There are also third-party solutions that can be employed to let the shopper know the page is secure.

Why is it important today for sites to be both mobile and social media friendly? How can ShopSite help with both of these?

The world is changing. Just about everyone has a smartphone and a Facebook account these days. If you are not able to reach these folks, you are missing some key opportunities.

ShopSite includes the ability to set up a Facebook storefront and add other social media options to your site.

We also offer responsive design templates that allow your site to adjust to mobile users and standard web users alike. Responsive design allows the available screen size of the browser window to determine how the layout will look. With responsive design templates, the merchant's site works seamlessly for mobile users or standard users.

What advice do you have to business owners on making sure people can find their online stores?

There are several things a merchant can do to increase their visibility on the web.

ShopSite includes several built-in features that help you optimize your site including:

  • Google Site Map integration (this allows you to push your site information to Google)
  • Google Analytics integration (this allows you to monitor where traffic is coming from and how people are finding your site)
  • Page and product metadata fields can be configured for each page
  • ShopSite allows the merchant to specify the file name of each page (e.g., mywebsite.com/sun-glasses.html)
  • ShopSite also creates static HTML pages, which can be indexed faster by the search engines (static pages also load quicker and take less server resources)

The following page includes some additional information Search Engine Optimization. Creating backlinks is also important.

There are also several SEO specialists who can help optimize your site.

What eCommerce innovations are exciting you the most these days?

I enjoy seeing the market evolve and grow. Most recently we are seeing a big push to mobile and social media. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe we will be placing orders using Google Glass.

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