If you have decided to sell online, finding the right eCommerce platform is half the battle. It is probably the most important decision you will make for your business. However, it’s a no brainer that there are a plethora of e-commerce platforms to choose from and each has its own pros and cons. That said, in this blog, we will discuss more than just pros and cons.
At the basics and eCommerce platform should enable online businesses to accept online payments, show relevant products, collect the necessary information for shipping and sell online all automated to meet specific needs of the business.
Oftentimes finding the right eCommerce platform may not be that easy as there could only be a few differences between the features of different eCommerce platforms. But don’t take this lightly as even a small difference can affect your business largely. Sometimes there are many hidden costs involved in the various services of the platforms. Some platforms are better for SEO and some not so much. These are just a few of the reasons why you should narrow down the best eCommerce platform for your business based on your needs.
What’s the Best Ecommerce Platform for You?
Some of the well-known business eCommerce platform options available are Shopify, Bigcommerce, Magento, Woocommerce, etc. They are all great options but there are other niche platforms that are more suited to a niche business such as if you want to create a marketplace, you should go for ShareTribe. For selling digital products you could choose Gumroad. If you are selling subscriptions boxes, you could try Cratejoy. If you are selling on blog sites choose Selz. For B2B you can choose NuOrder and if you are taking pre-order, you can go for Celery.
Things to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Before we get started there are a few fundamentals that you will need to consider carefully. This will help you later to find out the best platform that will suit you the best. The first thing is it either you are going to have your own store or a marketplace:
There are primarily two ways to sell online i.e.
- Create Your Own Store – This is harder to start and is more expensive but with a custom design, you have the opportunity to create a personalized experience and a brand on which you have more control.
- Join a Marketplace – It’s easier to start but more expensive in the long term. Marketplaces such as Etsy, Amazon, and eBay makes it very easy for businesses to get started. You just have to enter a product name, add a description, upload a photo and you are good to go.
Digital storefronts are very different they are as different as opening your own physical store and opening a kiosk inside a shopping mall. These two different approaches have different ways of getting customers and they both have their own advantages.
Similarly, if you join a marketplace, you will have a lot of restrictions. All the elements will be predetermined and you can’t get creative with it. On the other hand, if you have your own store, you have control over everything and you get to decide where your product photos will go, and how big will it be and the steps involved in the shopping process.
On the other side, if you join a marketplace, you have the opportunity to tap into the already high traffic of the platform. And the platform does the most of the marketing for you. So, you are sure to get a lot of traffic from the very beginning. But then again you will have to share a certain percentage of your profits with the platform for their services.
If you start your own store, you will only be paying up-front or a monthly payment for the eCommerce platform you are using and the rest is up to you. You get to decide how much you will invest in marketing and how will you do it. Here, you run the store as you want and you are not bound by the rules of the marketplace platforms.
Next, you have to decide if you want to go for hosted platforms or self-hosted platforms. Hosted shopping carts are user-friendly but have less control. Self-hosted e-commerce platforms have to design from scratch which may need some technical knowledge but it gives you the most control over your store.
Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
Hosted eCommerce platforms are really easy to start with. You don’t have to worry about security, PCI compliances, backups, web-crashes, etc. It works like butter and all the technicalities are maintained by the eCommerce platform itself. So hosted platforms are Shopify, Squarespace, Bigcommerce, etc. This is a good option for solopreneurs who want to get their eCommerce up and running in a short time. And who doesn’t want to deal with the technicalities of the building a web store?
Self-hosted Ecommerce Platforms
When you are going for a self-hosted e-commerce platform, you will have to purchase hosting space, download the software package and then upload it to the hosting space. Then you will have to build a store that looks like a store from scratch. This expects some coding skills from you. Moreover, if you ever get hacked, you will have to take care of all of it yourself. Moreover, you have to ensure that your website is secure and you have PCI compliant.
App And Extension
Some hosted services such as Bigcommerce and Shopify have app stores. These additional apps and extensions can be bought for an additional price and will help automate a lot of things for you. These tools will save you time and money. The apps could handle a lot of complicated functions such as:
- Customer service
- Inventory management
- Sales and marketing
- Shipping and fulfillment
- Report generation
Top 8 Ecommerce Platforms for Your Business
Top 7 Niche Ecommerce Platforms for Your Business
- ShareTribe for marketplace
- GoSpaces for subscriptions
- NuOrder for B2B
- Gumroad for digital subscription
- Selz for digital products
- Sellfy for digital download
- Sello for mobile storefront
I think many would agree that Shopify is the best eCommerce platform in the industry. It enables store owners to sell all types of products and services and is a full integration solution which means all the features are ready-to-use. For solo store owners, there can’t be a better option than Shopify.
The platform comes with multiple customizable themes which store owners can organize and display products as per their needs. They can even track and fulfill orders as well as accept payments online through PayPal, credit and debit cards without having to build any of it from scratch.
The pricing is based on monthly billing system which costs $29/mo for Basic, $79/mo for Shopify and $299/mo for Advanced services. Of Course, the company offers a 14-day free trial so that you can make an informed decision if you need Shopify or not.
Shopify is absolutely hassle-free and is probably the easiest to set up in the group. Simply sign up for the service, pick a theme or design from hundreds of options, customize your theme to your specification. This completely eliminates the need to hire a professional developer or designer to create an online shopping cart.
This is a cloud-based platform and offers web hosting on a server designed for eCommerce. This means that business owners now have one less overhead cost as they don’t have to host the website somewhere else.
Shopify’s infrastructure is great for scaling; if you get a sudden spike in your order volumes the platform can automatically handle it without making it crash. Plus, you can directly sell on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.
Since 2009, BigCommerce has been one of the leading eCommerce service providers which have hosted over 60,000 online stores with the likes of Toyota and Martha Stewart. BigCommerce is a great option for those who want built-in features and don’t have any technical knowledge or experience with coding and web designing.
The platform like Shopify is a cloud-based eCommerce platform which is designed for growing brands. It boasts its platform to give you more traffic and higher conversion rates with unmatched performance. Some of its features include order fulfillment, payment support, newsletters, analytics, coupon provision, etc.
The pricing plans are billed monthly and are three-tiered: The price is $29.95/mo for Standard, $79.95/mo for Plus, and $249.95/mo for Pro. Plus, the company offers a 15-day free trial which gives full access to all its features except the fact that your customers can buy anything from you unless to upgrade the plan.
Even the standard plan comes with unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth which means you have to restriction to the growth of your store. However, it’s worth noting that the platform allows accepting payments through credit cards and PayPal but takes a 1.5% transaction fee for each sale. BigCommerce doesn’t charge a transaction fee in higher plans such i.e. Plus and Pro. on top of that, BigCommerce also supports the business with high volume transaction and has a custom pricing for such store owners.
Probably the only downside is that the platform doesn’t offer a large number of free themes as in others. It offers only 7 free themes to use whereas other platforms provide up to 20 free themes to choose from. On the other hand, the paid themes are completely customizable which you can do it on your own to give your storefront a unique and premium appearance.
Like we said before, the platform is designed for businesses who want to scale up. It can store up to 1000 products on its database and can handle a sudden spike of traffic seamlessly in case you have a new product launch or a product is going viral.
BigCommerce also has some of the best hacker deterrent hardware firewalls and use SSL to keep all customer’s information secure from trespassers.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform is probably the most customizable platform in the industry. It is pretty popular among designers and developers as they provide high flexibility in terms of creativity. The interesting part is it built using WordPress which brings the perfect combination of eCommerce solution and content management with a high degree of customization.
WordPress is already an impressive software which runs over 25% of the web, which is why WooCommerce is backed by a wide range of plugins to work with and also gives a sense of familiarity to those who have previously worked on content management systems such as WordPress.
The truth is you will create a website using WordPress and then add WooCommerce as a plugin which will transform your website into an online store. The basic plug-in you get to start with is free to use, but you can add more functionality and features by installing other plug-ins. It is worth noting that WooCommerce is not the only plugin available for eCommerce but it certainly is the most popular one. Because of its popularity, it gets tons of support and has a large knowledge base that will help you build your store without any problems.
To use WooCommerce, you have to…
- First, pick a web host and register your domain name for your store.
- Download and install WordPress on the web host.
- Install and activate the WooCommerce plug-in on the website.
The aforementioned steps will give you a basic store with some limited features. In order to add more features, you have to install other extensions and tools such as product bundles, analytics, etc. This will enable your products to sell them on the store. Some other extension you may need is MailChimp and FreshDesk for email marketing.
No other platform comes close in terms of flexibility if you have to create a store. The platform itself is very intuitive an easy to use and if you have prior experience in WordPress, you can create a world-class eCommerce store for yourself.
Squarespace is for those who are more into appearance and aesthetics of the eCommerce store. If you want a good user interface and design that attracts customers, this is the platform you need. That said, you should know that the platform is somewhat lighter in terms of features but it doesn’t make it any less impressive. The platform takes care of all aspects such as hosting, domains, servers, which means you can focus on what you do best i.e. running your business. When it comes to using the platform, there is a little learning curve and the interface is simplified and intuitive. If you have no technical knowledge, Squarespace can be the best solution for creating a stunning website that appeals to your brand’s personality and your audience.
The platform offers hundreds of templates to choose from, which can then be customized as per your needs. You can easily integrate payment integrations such as PayPal, credit card and debit card payment acceptance.
All plans are billed monthly and start at $12/mo for Personal, $18/mo for Business, $26/mo for Commerce, and $40/mo for Advanced commerce. Compared to other platforms, this is one of the cheapest options at just $12 per month. With this, you get your own custom domain name for free and also can sell an unlimited number of products in your store, plus there are no transaction fees. You can easily scale up at a very cost-effective price if needed.
One of the best features of the platform is that you can use multiple designs on the same website and can have flexible product arrangement instead of just the standard view. It also includes a blogging module and makes for great content management and web analytics. The platform also provides an SEO-friendly structure and auto-optimizes website for mobile devices making it mobile friendly and mobile responsive to cater to a large number of mobile users. It boasts a flexible shipping options and built-in security using SSL along with inventory management and 24×7 support.
BigCartel is one of the easiest platforms in the industry. You can pretty much have a store of your own within minutes of signing in. To keep the platform simple, the platform is extremely limited and minimalistic. It is geared towards those who sell creative works.
It is worth noting that the platform is only suitable for those who are in a creative niche and can be frustrating for professional eCommerce owners. The platform is an artist-centric platform and is exactly the way it is set up and designed. It only deals with taking a product getting it to the customer in a simple way without giving much weight to complicated features.
The platform doesn’t give away any complicated UX designs of features that are too complex. If you are an artist and want to sell your art online, this is the best platform to choose. It’s worth noting that it does have some essential features such as order management, tracking, no transaction fees, social media integration, etc.
The pricing is super cost-effective starting at just $9.99/mo for 25 products, $19.99/mo for 100 products, and $29.99/mo for 300 products. To be honest, you can’t expect more for just $9.99 per month.
They have some great built-in marketing tools and gives you the flexibility to create a stunning eCommerce store in minutes.
This is a completely hosted platform just like Shopify or BigCommerce. It has a website builder module and helps to create great eCommerce stores as well asl help create a stunning intuitive website with other non-commerce content-based pages. You can certainly go ahead and hire professional as the platform provides 24×7 support and a dedicated account manager to help you out.
Volusion supports all credit cards and has integrations with PayPal as well as Amazon Payments. The platform features an advanced inventory management system and enables you to list unlimited products on the store with detailed product information. Volusion also makes it easier to sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook and has in-built SEO management as well as CRM system.
It has four printing plan which starts at $29/mo for Personal, $79/mo for Professional, $299/mo for Business and a custom option for large enterprises. However, you do get a 14-day free trial to help you decide on the platform. However, if you want to accept credit cards, you will have to purchase the SSL certificate separately which alone cost nearly $90/year.
It is a great option for store owners looking for a power-packed, feature-heavy platform. Its support team is one of the best in the industry.
3DCart is a great option for CRM which is the feature that sets it apart from other platforms. Along with the basic features, the platform combines the landing pages, product listing, and orders all in one page. It also has a ranking system for its customer base along with order history, reviews, contact information, etc.
With a collective database, the platform makes marketing campaigns easier and effective. You can target an email newsletter to a specific group from day one based on their purchase habits. The coupon feature is standard and has detailed customer info to build a loyalty point system if you want to.
The platform currently boasts nearly 25,000 global stores and also provides 24×7 phone and chat support to all its customers. This is a hosted platform which means you don’t have to pay extra for other software installation, web-hosting or technical solution in the future.
The platform comes integrated with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Shopzilla. You also have the option to integrate various shipping services and marketplaces as well as provide printing service for shipping labels. The platform focuses heavily on upselling and cross-selling of products which are good for new store owners.
The platform offers four pricing options starting from $19/mo for 1 staff user, $29/mo for 2 staff user, $79/mo for 5 staff user and $299/mo for 15 staff user.
Nearly 20% of eCommerce stores are powered by Magento. It is a widely used free eCommerce platform that boasts dedicated support and community. Today, it has nearly 50,000 of the global user base. Although the basic level of the platform is free, they do have paid plans who are looking for an upgrade or an enterprise-level store. If you are a serious eCommerce store owner and can manage to have technical teamwork for you, there isn’t a better option than Magento. You have complete control over how your store will look like and can build it based on your business needs.
That said, the platform is feature-driven and the technology is advanced which means you need an experienced Magento developer and designer team to create a store for you. It is dedicated to established businesses who have good funding and can spare some time to develop and set up the store.
Among its features are inventory management, shipping management, payment options, built-in SEO features, marketing tools, multilingual support, and a plethora of extension (5000+) to help you optimize and customize your store.
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