Selling your own products from a e-commerce website is still the single most lucrative form of monetization available. If you don’t choose a right e-commerce platform, then you are seriously missing out.
When you sell your own products rather than making money from ads, you will get to stay at the top of the ‘food chain’ – keeping your own visitors on your site for longer and getting 100% of the profit each time they convert (as opposed to a paltry 5cents).
Meanwhile, for a brick and mortar store, variety of e-commerce platforms provides you with a way to reach thousands or even millions of new potential customers and to increase your ROI for each one.
And the great news is that in this day and age, selling products online is really easy.
All you need is an e-commerce platform and this will automate payment processing, design, hosting and more to give you a great looking online store that your customers can shop through.
The only difficulty then is knowing which one to choose…
‘Hosted’ e-commerce platform are platforms that are not kept on your server.
These are stores that you simply link out to from your site and which let you create your own storefront by logging in and changing the settings.
It’s a little like having a profile on social media, except you’re selling things!
Of the hosted solutions there are a few popular choices:
Choose Shopify E-Commerce Platform
Shopify has a great interface and a lot of features. It’s also very popular with a lot of support, though it lacks some basic customization such as the ability to create your own checkout page.
If you’re looking for more customization options, you can always check out other e-commerce platforms, such as those reviewed on HostingAdvice.
A little limited though but a good starter choice that can support up to 5,000 products.
Bigcommerce is another hosted solution. Like Shopify, it’s suitable for large numbers of products (up to 5,000) and is generally a good choice for those who don’t need the flexibility of a hosted platform.
Bigcommerce is also a little more expensive than Shopify though and is slightly less known. Bigcommerce does have the benefit however of offering better support for international payments.
Hosted e-commerce solutions are stores that you install onto your own server space. This gives you far more flexibility over the hosted options but often require more set-up for novices.
Remember though, ecommerce website developers can help you with this process if you find it daunting.
Choose Magento E-Commerce Platform
Magento is perhaps the best hosted solution and is a great choice for those who want to create something completely unique with lots of specific features and functions.
It is a powerful system too and capable of listing up to 50,000 items – even more than hosted choices. On the down side, it is also the mot fiddly of all the options on this list and may be confusing for some users.
It can also occasionally slow down page load times. This is the top choice for larger businesses.
WooCommerce is a slightly smaller self-hosted option as compared with Magento.
What makes it so convenient for small businesses and entrepreneurs is the fact that it is a WordPress plugin.
This means it can be installed with a single click and customized through a number of simple-to-use plugins and themes. It has a large community of users, lots of support and an intuitive UI.
WooCommerce website development will be the best choice for many people reading this owing to its simplicity. However, we only recommend it for slightly smaller stores with 500 items or less.
Volusion is also a WordPress plugin with lots of support. It doesn’t feature the same customization though and isn’t as capable of managing large numbers of items.
What it does do though is to offer built in CRM functionality, an autoresponder and even affiliate marketing tools. This makes it a good choice for the digital marketer selling 50 items or less.
More Hosted E-Commerce Platform Choices
Other popular contenders include ZenCart and the open-source OpenCart (popular options suitable for around 500 items), OsCommerce (suitable for 5,000 products) and VirtueMart (good for under 500).
At the tiny end of the spectrum is PrestaShop which is suitable for selling 50 products.
VirtueMart, OsCommerce and Prestashop are also free to use though you will need to pay for more attractive themes and powerful features – a business model used by several eCommerce options.
For .Net based options you have DNN, Umbraco, Sitefinity and mojoPortal all of which are suitable for products number up to 50,000.
Custom E-Commerce Solutions
But what if you have over 50,000 products? Or what if you want to add something entirely different to your ecommerce platform?
In these situations, building your own platform from scratch is by far the best choice and this is where every e-commerce business will eventually end up if it continues to scale.
You can’t imagine Amazon using a third party solution, can you?
To build your own e-commerce solution, all you’ll need is an ecommerce website developer and a vision for what you want your online store to look like.