Eighty. And all of them have websites. Most of them have online stores. Or at least an online catalog. Companies now realize that customers expect, even demand, online buying. If products are not available online locally, many are buying at other stores (especially on Amazon). But there are big differences in the quality of the sites, and in the buying experience. Some of the smaller companies have the best sites! Many of these stores use similar e-commerce technologies. The most common are WordPress, Shopify, Magento and PHP. Shopify and Magento are full-service e-commerce companies, where all product data must be entered into their systems (that means duplication and issues in inventory and accounting effort). Their systems automatically imply pleasing design. And they cost a lot more. Companies using WordPress install it on their own cloud servers and use a plugin named WooCommerce. They have a greater degree of control and integration (but more technical responsibility and effort, maintenance and learning are also implied). PHP is a programming language, companies using it have complete control over the growth of their sites, but this also requires by far the most technical expertise. Perhaps the biggest challenge these companies face is creating a shopping cart that knows the weight of an order of clay or materials and is able to predict the cost of handling and shipping via common carrier. And offer the buyer a shipment tracking service.
Survey of the 80 ceramic suppliers in North America