You likely run across online merchants weekly, possibly even daily, without even thinking about it. Some of the most popular websites online are using some of these great online selling portals to engage with over 2 billion users. Each platform has positives for any given scenario, and on the flip side, each platform may have drawbacks as well. Below we will discuss some of the factors and considerations of each.
Some key factors to consider when selecting on online e-commerce platform.
There are a number of great e-commerce platforms out there, some more popular than others. Most of these platforms provide robust setup tools and also assist with building an online store with relative ease. All platforms are not created equal, however, and it is important to consider the best one for your needs, before you potentially cause frustration for you, or the person setting up the store for your intended purposes. Let’s dive into some basic features and considerations.
It is important that the platform you choose is:
1: Easy, Comfortable to use for you, and Customizable.
This will be the platform that you likely will use for years to come- or for as long as you continue to run your online store. So it is important to choose a store that you feel very comfortable using. Be sure to test things that you will use daily within the admin panel, such as product updating, overall performance, reports, integrations, promotions- and even try sampling their customer service.
2: Marketing Tools
It is important to look for coupon capability, newsletter capability and social media promotion plugins. Tools like social network sharing, and one-page checkout are also some great features to keep an eye out for.
3: SEO Based
SEO has become a major factor in today’s everyday website maintenance. How well will the chosen platform handle SEO? Are there areas in the back end to optimize certain pages? You can only get your product in front of the right eyes if you have put forward a solid effort into SEO.
Don’t always go for cheapest, and don’t always go for large promises of success. Transaction fees are also important to consider, as they can definitely add up fast, especially based on your transaction volume.
5: Website Maintenance
Keep an eye out for a platform that offers maintenance services like server updates, fast upload and download speeds, and those that are not costly for maintenance. The risks of not having these features would be result in slower response time and added maintenance costs, which can ultimately drain you as you work towards your long term goals.
These are all very important considerations to keep in mind while researching and selecting any e-commerce platform for the online store that they offer. Now, let’s introduce the top 10 ecommerce platforms, along with some of the pros and cons for each.
You may have absolutely no experience with e-commerce platforms, and you have likely still heard of Shopify. It is one of the most popular and famous platforms used by today’s developers. It is a robust and stable platform that also builds a great looking website, and it works well for all devices (mobile responsive). It is considered one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms among the crowd. With Shopify, their dashboard will easily allow you to upload unlimited products, and customize the site look accordingly. This platform has another great feature, which is that it owns an online app store, which offers more than 1,000 apps, both free and paid- and all very useful.
Shopify offers easy integrations for shipping carriers, drop shipping companies, and fulfillment centers. Within their built in mobile app, you can easily receive payments and manage the store. They also offer a point of sale system for managing transactions for physical stores as well.
If you need to launch an online store quickly, Shopify may be a great option to start with.
Shopify has many great features, but customizability is not one of them. To customize any given shopping template, you have to learn a coding language called Liquid, which can be difficult, especially for someone that is not familiar with coding in general.
Pricing: Starts with $29/month (Basic Edition)
2: Woo Commerce
Woo-Commerce is an open-source e-commerce tool and platform that allows merchants to turn their WordPress website into an online store. It is one of the most commonly used e-commerce platforms, which also offers a large variety of options and customizations for those that use the online store function. It allows unlimited uploads, like other competitors of course. This popular e-commerce tool allows for and facilitates blogging and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is one of the leading e-commerce platforms on the Internet. They also offer WordPress plugins and is widely used on that platform, as well as for other online stores.
Woo-Commerce allows you to run and customize your shop requirements to create many different products. Additionally, you can manage orders, coupons, reports, inventory, product linking, shipping schedules, individual product settings, add-ons, tags, categories and all of their functionalities with relative ease.
Woo-Commerce is not as secure as Shopify since it is an open source platform. Also, there are a few functions that can only be handled with expert knowledge.
Pricing: Free (Community Edition)
Squarespace is another solution that allows you to build a complete e-commerce store, with relative ease. You can completely run your business out of your home if you wish. You need almost zero technical knowledge to get going. Squarespace also offers you amazing features such as SEO support, website analytics, stats, ability to add unlimited products, a rich product description option, discount/coupon codes, donations, inventory management system and built in security- along with many other features.
You can upload unlimited products with both the basic and advanced plans on Squarespace. You can also upgrade pages, galleries and blogs with unlimited bandwidth, storage and contributors. Squarespace also has an easy drag & drop site builder, allowing someone with little technical knowledge to build a site.
Squarespace unfortunately provides only one sub navigation level for menus, which makes it hard for websites that require a comprehensive website navigation hierarchy. Developers may not be able to view the changes live as well.
Pricing: $12/month (Personal Plan)
Big commerce is another popular platform, although, not quite as popular as the first few we have discussed. It is easy to set up and get your store going quickly. It offers many customization options. It is also easy to navigate, and offers great SEO configurations among the major e-commerce platforms. It offers very solid features and fair prices. It has an excellent customer support system and allows shipping all over the world.
Big commerce has very appropriate pricing plans, and within those, you can enjoy many features such as real-time shipping quotes, gift cards, and 24/7 customer support. Additionally, you can also get assistance with their Google Trusted Store certification assistance program. Big commerce also allows easy integration with eBay and Google shopping.
Big commerce is a great platform that offers great shopping cart needs, a great looking store, and a fully comprehensive solution for a fair price.
Other than the enterprise plan, Big Commerce plans do have a limit on the amount of sales volume that you can process yearly. So if you plan to have a very large scale shop with high transaction volume, this is likely not the best solution for you.
Pricing: Starts with $29.95/month (Standard Plan)
Magento has been around for some time, and you have likely heard the name. It is a flexible e-commerce platform that keeps designers and developers in mind. It ultimately helps meet the needs for both small and large-scale businesses. It is an open source platform as well, which allows for a high level of customization options. There is a free community version with limited support, but for more help and convenient features, you will need to purchase their enterprise version.
Magento has a variety of plugins and themes, much like WordPress does- to allow the user to enhance their store. Magento allows you to enjoy countless benefits such as flexible e-commerce solutions, additional layouts, easy plugin installation, and effective performance. The admin panel also has various discount offers and promotions, and over 50 payment gateways for customers to integrate with. It is a very great solution for small to large-scale businesses and websites, but you most certainly will need a Magento developer nearby to assist.
Magento will require large dedicated servers, which can increase costs. Without these, your site will likely run slow. Magenta operates with PHP which means that only trusted professionals can deal with the functionality of this great platform.
Pricing: Free (Community Edition)
Miva is another great enterprise level e-commerce platform that gives its user the ability to customize and personalize the whole system. It is fully available and accessible for upcoming and small businesses with modern enterprise methods. It is a very versatile, powerful, stable and well-supported platform. You can completely customize your needs, and integrate with other systems easily with Miva. Conveniently, Miva allows you to create modern e-commerce websites with excellent creative features within its interface. Additionally, Miva comes with amazing features like order processing, shipping fulfillment, multi-channel marketplace inventory and a CRM- customer relationship management.
Miva is designed to handle the load and requirements of an enterprise level business. Things like complex data sets, large volumes of SKU counts, as well as easily configurable products and pricing. With Miva Merchant, you can integrate with WordPress, Amazon and also eBay.
The Miva shopping cart option is lacking with some of the key features that are typically needing more customization potential, such as product comparisons, customer reviews and drop shipping management.
Pricing: Starts with $79.95/month (Starter)
CrateJoy is one of the more unique platforms, being that it runs a subscription based business for every lifestyle. It is specially designed to deliver products quickly through a subscription box service to people. It is a fantastic option to help you convert an existing website into a store.
CrateJoy is a complete solution for an online subscription based business. It handles mainly subscriptions and allows the users to create subscription boxes with built in options that are easy to manage- allowing users to add variants, terms and surveys, along with their choices.
CrateJoy has few options to handle multiple products at one time, e.g. categories. This e-commerce tool unfortunately does not offer the ability to upsell and add on features.
Pricing: Starts with $39/month (Community Edition)
Lightspeed is possibly one of the world’s easiest to use e-commerce platforms to help create businesses. This system is designed for real goals and real life, to help provide customers with a consistently enjoyable shopping experience. It allows for customization and built-in SEO tools that rank you higher and also faster in the top search engines. Lightspeed has some amazing features; such as Lightspeed Onsite for Desktop use, and Lightspeed POS for restaurant platforms, and also the Lightspeed retail system and Lightspeed e-commerce system.
Lightspeed offers a reliable backend interface and a strong app/theme store. It is also a usable platform for both beginners, and expert developers. You can also connect, hassle-free to any shipping carrier throughout the world.
Lightspeed has a limitation of adding only 5 user accounts. You cannot put items on sale, you can only use a coupon code, and the customer support is rather limited also.
Pricing: $99/month (Small Plan)
OpenCart is another free open-source e-commerce platform, popular for small startups and online stores. Unlike some other e-commerce platforms, OpenCart uses simple and reasonable functionalities within. It is a lightweight, robust software that requires few resources to setup an online store.
It works great for small stores, and has an appealing user-friendly interface. Development costs are typically less for this platform as well. Another great feature of OpenCart is that it offers convenient management through the Admin panel. OpenCart offers 20+ payment gateways and over 8 shipping methods. It is designed to help manage multiple shops from a single admin access point, which is a great aspect as well.
There really is one big downside to this platform and it relates to the overall ease and lack of complexities within it- so it will tend to limit you when it comes to using the platform for bigger purposes. With OpenCart you may also experience compatibility issues when using multiple extensions.
Pricing: Free (Community Edition)
10: Drupal Commerce
Drupal commerce is another, like Magento, that has been around for quite some time. It is an open-source e-commerce platform that is designed to create versatile e-commerce websites and applications that are based on Drupal. It is a very useful platform that combines e-commerce with a content management system (CMS) and the community to create engaging web experiences that drive more traffic to retailers. It is also known to be a platform that is commonly used for websites in general, similar to how WordPress is used.
Drupal commerce is conveniently integrated into Drupal at the deepest level and has all of the functionality that Drupal has to offer. This allows both the user and customer to have a seamless user experience when using an e-commerce site that is created with Drupal. Drupal e-commerce also generally doesn’t require as much development time, which will result in lower costs. You also will not need to develop two separate versions for your visual templates. It is easier to maintain and manage the e-commerce based Drupal websites because of these reasons. You also will be able to enjoy the reporting and analytics tools that show you how many visitors have been on your site.
The Drupal script is not particularly user-friendly and will require advanced knowledge for installation and modification.
Pricing: Free (Community Edition)
If you are feeling more informed after this review, and are a fairly hands-on person, you may wish to continue your exploration and review the platforms to find the one that fits your needs the best. The most stable platforms that we can advise, if you are looking to get a store up quickly, would be Shopify and Big Commerce, as these platforms are very stable and have some great Apps that connect and add value towards the ultimate goal of success. HTML Pro offers web development solutions in all of these areas – and would be happy to assist and suggest! Your store is just a message away – Contact HTML Pro at 347 308 5764!
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