A eCommerce platform is the system that you will use on your website in order to handle your ‘online shop’. This is what will allow you to take orders directly through your website and in theory this can drastically increase sales while minimizing overheads.
This completely automates the sales process meaning that you can easily and directly convert the visitors on your website into paying customers to increase your profits.
It’s your eCommerce platform that is going to handle this but in order for you to maximize your potential sales you will need to make sure you pick the right one.
What is the situation of the ecommerce industry?
Ecommerce is growing 23% year-over-year, yet 46% of American small businesses do not have a website. The ecommerce landscape has shifted dramatically.
According to a Statista report, ecommerce growth is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021.
The mind-boggling growth of the ecommerce industry is changing at an even faster rate as brands are beginning to embrace the latest technology like voice assistants.
Shopify has talked about the future of ecommerce for 2020 and beyond. Here are the 10 facts,
- Ecommerce Is Growing But Is Only 11.9% of Retail
- Multi-Channel Ecommerce Enables Anywhere Buying
- Ecommerce Automation Is an Accessible Reality
- Mobile Is the New Normal but Adds Purchase Complexities
- Native Social-Selling Is Finally Delivering Results
- International Ecommerce Remains Largely Untapped
- Micro-Moments Are the New Battleground for Optimization
- Content Is the Holy Grail of Ecommerce Engagement
- B2B Ecommerce Dwarfs B2C by Over $5 Trillion
- Fragmentation Is Ecommerce’s Biggest Challenge
Advantages of using an eCommerce Platform
- Helps organization expand their business to national and international markets with minimum capital investment.
- Increases the productivity of the organization.
- Customers can buy products without doing any travel, hence saves time.
- Customers can see the review comments of a product before buying and can also update his comments towards it.
- Comparison of products can be made, thus ensuring that we buy a best product.
- Stores are open all the time, so we can purchase whenever we are free.
- No need of physical company setups.
What Makes a good eCommerce Platform?
So how do you decide which is the best eCommerce platform that is suitable for you? There are a few things you need to look for
Depending on the size of your online store you will need varying features for your site. Some sites will need shopping baskets for instance where customers can add multiple items, some sites might want to let their customers log their card details, some might want PayPal or EPOS integration… etc. For those using WordPress as their CMS, WordPress integration is also very useful.
Of course you also need to make sure that your eCommerce platform is well designed, attractive and easy to use. Visitors need to find shopping a joy and the interface needs to be attractive enough that they actually want to spend time browsing your items. This will improve your reputation and it will increase your turnover.
It’s incredibly important that eCommerce platforms be secure so that all your customers’ information is kept safe and isn’t going to get into the wrong hands.
Prioritize before you choose an ecommerce platform
Before you choose among the most popular ecommerce platform, you have to consciously understand your needs and goals before making a decision.
How many products are you going to sell in your ecommerce store?
Is your ecommerce store going to be small, medium or big? Based on size, you will be able to choose an ecommerce platform.
To get an idea, browse other stores. Only by browsing more, you will get the proper information that will benefit you.
Here is a list that will help with your research activities
- AliExpress Most Popular Products (weekly)
- Amazon Best Sellers
- Choxi Trending List
- eBay Daily Deals
- Lazada Top Sellers
- LightInTheBox Top Sellers List
What is the budget of your ecommerce store?
Fixing a budget to build your ecommerce store is a balancing act. If you spend too much, you’ll break the bank. On the other hand, if you spend too little, users won’t know if your website exists.
So do you want a big website that sells more products like Amazon or a medium size store like tens or a small one like albeebaby?
Then again a mix of research and some data crunching will put you on the track of allocating a budget.
Is optimizing your ecommerce store for search engines important to you?
Even though SEO is a vital part of online success, many store owners don’t consider it as a crucial criterion. Many tend to use PPC (Pay-per-click) to promote their products. But if you want to focus on SEO, you have to allocate some budget here too.
What type of functionalities do you want for your ecommerce store?
More emphasis is being given on the appearance of a website as it helps to gain the trust of visitors. So you have to decide on the websites mobile friendliness, user-friendliness, and security.
Also, you have to make a decision on whether you need ‘out of the box’ features such as mobile applications, extensions, modules, and plugins.
Like this, the list can keep increasing. So based on your main goals, you have to prioritize.
Do have plans to promote your ecommerce store via content marketing?
My biggest prediction for eCommerce in 2018 is that more brands will use content to differentiate themselves. A big part of that content will be videos” says Bill Widmer an ecommerce marketing consultant. If you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, one of the best ways is to perform effective content marketing.
Top 10 eCommerce Platforms
There are countless options out there for eCommerce platforms and the best one is going to depend on what it is you’re selling, the size of your business and other factors. Nevertheless, we can still take a look at some of the top eCommerce platforms and compare them on face value.
Here are a few worthy of your consideration
Shopify has a greater interface and a good selection of features. The main limitation is the inability to change the checkout page, though this is common among all hosted solutions (hosted meaning you don’t store the shop on your own site).
- Hosted solution – Easy to setup.
- Built in speed and security for hosting.
- Great customer support.
- Reliability – Shopify takes care of server maintenance and upgrades in order to keep your shopping cart available and loading quickly.
- Pricing – Shopify is slightly pricier than Volusion and slightly cheaper than Bigcommerce.
- Lock-in – Moving your store to a different platform is not going to be smooth.
- Limited in functionality.
Now we’re onto the self-hosted platforms, meaning it will live on our server. This gives more flexibility but also means you might need some help from our magento website development team. Magento specifically has a ton of features which some users will see as a bonus but which will be confusing for others. It also has a somewhat slow performance and may slow down your site.
- The backend admin is designed for non technical users.
- Integrates with popular payment gateways.
- 100% Scalable
- Magento themes can’t be ported.
- Takes up a lot of memory.
- Slow performance and may slow down your site.
Volusion is another hosted solution. It is less flexible than Shopify however, which ensures that Shopify remains the more popular option. Ultimately this will come down to which UI you like most.
- Built-in Education and Services
- Customer service availability
- Speed and Security
- Intuitive interface
- Mobile site setup
- Limited design options
- No app store or giant list of amazing features
- No blogging platform
WooCommerce is another self-hosted option but unlike Magento, it is a WordPress plugin. That means you have to be using WordPress to use WooCommerce but also means it’s very easy to setup and use. There are tons of themes available for WooCommerce and it’s very customizable, so if you’re on WordPress it will often be the better choice.
- Comes with user reviews and ratings
- Provides nicely organized reports.
- Professional and customizable
- Security updates are available in each and every plugin updates
- WooCommerce customization can be done by experts which required additional cost
- WooCommerce cannot be used without WordPress
- The plugin updates requires continuous help from a woocommerce website development company
OpenCart has a very attractive interface that is simple to use. OpenCart supports more than 20 payment gateways and 8 shipping methods in the default downloads, with hundreds of additional gateways and shipping integrations in its extension directory. In OpenCart, we can easily manage multiple shops from one admin interface. OpenCart does SEO better than most of the other ecommerce platforms.
PrestaShop is an ecommerce solution based on Smarty template engine. PrestaShop has more than three hundred built-in features for managing product listing, payments, shipping, manufacturers and suppliers. PrestaShop uses a web template system which allows users to customize store themes and add new features through add-on modules. The PrestaShop Addons marketplace provides a platform for third-party developers to sell themes and modules to merchants.
OSCommerce is one of the first open-source ecommerce applications that offers wide range ecommerce features to setup online stores very quickly with ease. Any website can be built around osCommerce as a base. It helps managing unlimited products in multiple categories while supporting multiple currencies.
7. Zen Cart
Zen Cart is an easy-to-setup and completely customizable ecommerce application branched from osCommerce with a solution that was more templatebased. It features more than 1,800 add-ons in 16 categories. Main features of Zen Cart includes built-in override protection system and shipping estimator.
BigCommerce is best suited for mid-market merchants and is also a good fit for fast growing aspirational brands. It is a much friendlier platform for marketers and business managers because its user experience is intuitive.
LemonStand is a Canadian ecommerce solution for growing online sellers. The platform has great integration possibilities with well known services. However, the platform is not meant for beginners. A non-technical person will be able to set up the store, but it takes coding experience to customize the website. Even though it comes with excellent customization options, you have to invest in a professional ecommerce website developer to handle the designing process.
3dcart offers tons of features to customize your store. This platform is great for beginners as they can customize the website without the having to hire a developer. It offers a free 15 day trial period and the pricing starts from $29.9 per month.
Winding up our top ecommerce platforms
Looking at these options, WooCommerce or Shopify will likely be the best choices for your site depending on whether you want a hosted or non-hosted store. That said though, there are some businesses for whom none of these options will be quite right.
Thankfully there are many more stores available out there, so if you’d like to talk about which is right for you then be sure to get in touch so we can help you find the right one!