Choosing your ecommerce platform is one of the most important parts of starting an online business. The look, feel and functionality of your store and shopping cart have a distinct impact on your sales. Thus, finding the right one is essential.
The market for ecommerce platforms offers options for every entrepreneur but there’s no one-size-fits-all option. The right ecommerce platform for you will depend on what features you require, where you want to host it and how savvy you are in IT.
Here are the five best ecommerce platforms budding entrepreneurs:
Shopify tops plenty of lists for best online platforms because it’s easy to get started and one of the most popular platforms online. A recent report from the site said that 100,000 stores call Shopify home.
Shopify is constantly evolving to meet customer expectations. Recent additions to the platform include hundreds of templates, fast and safe payment systems and the custom title tags that are essential for SEO. Shopify uses several SEO tools like meta descriptions and canonical tags. This enables shops on this platform to rank higher in Google searches.
Shopify is great for anyone just starting out. But it is difficult to switch out your store on this platform. This can complicate plans for expansion or moving to an independent store. The number of options available can also be overwhelming so it is helpful to know what you’re looking for before diving in.
After Shopify, Bigcommerce is the second easiest place to set up shop. The user dashboard offers clear directions and simple steps. Thus, you can get your business up and running in a few minutes. You can do all your customizing from one dashboard which makes it easy to return to later.
If you are after customization options, there are coding options available. However, Shopify offers you greater control of the changes.
WooCommerce is a great tool for entrepreneurs with a website or blog on WordPress. It runs as a shopping cart plugin which means you can integrate it into an existing site or launch it as a stand-alone store. Woocommerce is also customizable which means you can set it up to fit the aesthetic of your site.
Rather than setting up a dedicated merchant account, WooCommerce can be integrated with your existing PayPal account. Thus, you’ll only pay the relevant PayPal fees per transaction instead of merchant fees.
Most of the content on WooCommerce is free of charge. This makes it a great tool for bloggers or artists looking to monetize their sites for the first time. However, there are also specialist themes and extensions for sale that are designed for those who need more functionality from their shop. These paid extras run from anywhere between $79 and $139.
PrestaShop is an open-source store software system. Because its open source, the software is free to use. However, you do need to pay for hosting which can be done through a third party or with your own server.
An open-source shopping cart allows you to develop a shopping cart that designed specifically to your goals. If you’re not familiar with web design and development, you’ll generally need to find a professional who can get the system set up for you.
PrestaShop has over 300 features that are useful for growing your business. You can integrate your store with PayPal and social media. You can also add functions like one-page checkout, coupons, sales tracking, image zoom and currency support. If you find that there’s something you need that isn’t already available, you can have it built for the site or buy it from the Modules page.
PrestaShop also offers a guide to help store owners make the most of SEO, which is an important and useful feature.
Keep in mind that open source systems require a lot of administrative labor. If you’re not familiar with IT, it is a good idea to get a tech guru involved with your site to check in make sure everything is running smoothly.
Magento is a great platform for entrepreneurs who expect to grow quickly. Unlike other platforms on the list, you can easily scale your Magento store to meet the needs for startups and large businesses.
The platform is not always novice friendly. It’s a bit more complicated to use than the simple step options provided by Shopify and Bigcommerce. This is natural because more mature platform is required when you want the option to expand.
However, the technical skills required should not put off entrepreneurs. Rather, make sure you get to know the platform inside and out before going live.
There’s a lot of information on the internet to help you, including this handy white paper from OSF Global Services that highlights the key points to consider when embarking on a full scale ecommerce solution.
“Building or replatforming your ecommerce site can be a daunting task,” said Gerard Szatvanyi, President and CEO of OSF Global Services. “Before you move forward, consider the key points of action—and unexpected pitfalls—to an engaging ecommerce experience.”
These are just a few of the options available for your new store and there are many differences between them. Match their capabilities to your business goals and you’ll quickly find a new online home for your business.
Featured photo credit: Robbert Noordzij via flickr.com