With the global e-commerce market growing at a rapid pace, we are seeing a lot of new trends. When starting out a new e-commerce venture, there are a lot of elements that need to be figured out. And, e-commerce platforms stand right at the forefront.
The number of such e-commerce platforms available has grown over the years. In such a scenario, figuring out which platform to use when you’re looking to build your online store can be a fairly confusing task. Especially, if you aren’t from a technical or e-commerce background.
Finding that right e-commerce platform is a difficult task and you should take care of the following parameters before selecting:
Stock Size: Always consider the size of your stock. And whenever you’re browsing for a store platform to use, make sure you’re paying the smallest amount of money for the services that you require. Many businesses will provide alternative payment methods for just a couple of products.
Digital or Physical: This is always the question to ask. What is it that you’re selling? Digital or physical goods? It makes all the difference when thinking about shipping costs, etc. Look for platforms that suit your product needs.
Payment Method: If you’ve got issues with using PayPal (the easiest and popular payment processor), you’ll need to look into making arrangements, as not all e-commerce platforms favor 3rd party payment processors.
Self-Hosted or Hosted: Exactly what I was mentioning in the opening paragraph. If you feel you’re confident in modifying the look of your online store, look for platforms that will enable you to have a self-hosted version of the store.
Either way, most e-commerce platforms provide the ability to modify your store within a live environment.
Payment Plan: Select the platform that best suits your budget. Look for opportunities to pay monthly amounts instead of relying on giving a small percentage of a sale to the company that is hosting your platform.
Building an e-commerce website from scratch seems like a daunting task. It also requires technical know-how and quick problem-solving abilities.
And, if you aren’t good at that, chances are that you’ll face difficulties ahead. These are few of the reasons why people go for established e-commerce platforms that building one.
Here are some of the benefits of using e-commerce platforms:
- Lower development and maintenance – There is no coding expertise required, thereby eliminating the need for a development team. Also, the hosting is shared, which lowers the server costs.
- Better technical support – Most online store creators have a strong tech-support team to assist users with any issues that may arise.
- Less complex to work with – The back-end for most of these platforms is user-friendly and is built for ease of use keeping in mind users with limited technical knowledge.
The e-commerce platform market isn’t a tiny one. There are literally hundreds of options available.
Some might have a simple feel to them, but that isn’t always enough. While some might feel extremely cluttered, but provide cheaper rates and prices.
To make things easier for you, mentioned below are some of the best e-commerce platforms for your online store:
Shopify hosts over 325,000 active online shops. With its focus on social commerce and mobile shopping, the platform continues to evolve to meet the growing requirements of online stores.
Some of the benefits of Shopify are
- Over 100 store templates to choose from.
- 1500+ apps (plugins/extensions) to extend the store’s functionality.
- Ability to connect your online store to your Facebook page and sell directly on it.
- Built-in mobile-friendly shopping cart and seller mobile apps.
- Connects store owners with app developers for the development of their store’s app.
- 24/7 support via live chat, phone, and tutorials as well as the Shopify community forum.
Fallbacks of Shopify
- There will be an additional transaction fee on every sale if you don’t use Shopify Payment.
- Extensions for additional functionality aren’t free, so, running your store on Shopify might cost a little more than you expected.
- Shopify has its own coding language called ‘Liquid’, so any customization in the system comes at an additional expense.
Why should you choose Shopify over others?
For beginners with conventional requirements, Shopify remains the ideal e-commerce solution. Based on your budget requirements, you can choose different packages which range from $29 to $299/month.
But if you have unique features and functionalities in mind for your store, it might be better to look elsewhere.
Launched in 2009, BigCommerce currently hosts over 55,000 online stores and is among the leading e-commerce software providers. From big names like Martha Stewart & Toyota to SMEs, the platform ideally caters to stores of all sizes.
And considering the comprehensive list of built-in features it offers, BigCommerce has often considered being the best option for those who have little to no technical knowledge, or simply don’t have time for coding.
The Benefits of BigCommerce
- Extensive built-in features including newsletters, coupons, shipping, tax, analytics, and more.
- No transaction fee.
- The platform has a comprehensive list of premium themes, and it also allows customization of these themes if you want to give your store an entirely unique look and feel.
- Responsive free and paid themes and smooth mobile experience.
- Easy social media integration and other apps like eBay, Google shopping and a range of comparison sites.
- Powerful customer support through the helpful setup wizard, educational videos, and extensive guides with visual representations.
Fallbacks of BigCommerce
- Lack of free themes. Currently, it offers only 7 free themes, while most of their immediate competitors offer more than 20 free themes.
Why should you choose BigCommerce over others?
If you want a full-fledged store, but don’t want the hassles of integrating plug-ins, editing HTML/CSS or other code, then BigCommerce is definitely the go-to e-commerce platform for you.
If you are willing to compromise a bit on themes, then BigCommerce is a strong alternative to Shopify at roughly the same pricing (BigCommerce’s plans are between $29 and $199/month) without the incremental transaction fees.
With almost one-fourth of the market share, Magento is often considered the market leader in e-commerce platforms. For its reliability and scalability, many popular brands use Magento as the underlying technology for their online stores, including Burger King, Huawei, Pepe Jeans & Liverpool F.C.
This platform is considered the best e-commerce platform for enterprise-level online stores.
The Benefits of Magento
- Good user experience: easy to use and manage.
- Open source platform and therefore open to all sorts of customization.
- 9000+ plugins/extensions to scale your business.
- Free extensions that enable social commerce so you can sell on social media platforms.
- Extensive resource library for store management, growth, demos, and online community of store owners as well as plugin developers you can tap for help.
Fallbacks of Magento
- Variable pricing of versions affects user’s actions. Like, the basic Community version is free, while the advanced Enterprise version costs a minimum $20,000/year. Needless to say, the Community version is no match for the Enterprise version. The latter offers many built in high-end features such as customer segmentation, a support module, 24/7 support and a much more.
- The flexible, open source nature of the platform also makes it quite complex. So you need very competent developers for customization. So even with the Community version -considering hosting, SSL, extensions, customization, etc. – it will likely cost you significant time and money to get your e-commerce store exactly as you want it.
Why should you choose Magento over others?
Magento is considered the right e-commerce platform for enterprise-level merchants with a large volume of products. Therefore, given the complexity of store setup and management, you need to think hard before choosing it.
With its feature richness and smart pricing models, YoKart is built with a specific focus on helping startups build e-commerce ecosystem easily. Think of it as the one-stop solution for launching multi-vendor stores like eBay and Etsy.
Although many other e-commerce platforms also provide their multi-vendor version, YoKart does this seamlessly.
The Benefits of YoKart
- A ready-to-launch multi-vendor marketplace solution.
- Other than the framework, you own the source code and can customize the portal to your requirements.
- YoKart is built on an encrypted framework. Which means that customization would require knowledge of that framework. In general, an experienced PHP developer would quickly understand the framework and how to modify it as needed.
- Mobile-friendly platform and a dedicated Android app for marketplaces.
- Same features across all pricing packages.
- Comprehensive manuals for store owners and merchants, video tutorials, FAQs, and 12-month free support for store management.
Fallbacks of YoKart
- Being a relatively new entrant in the industry, there are no third-party extensions currently available for YoKart.
- The system offers built-in analytics tool, different payment gateways, rewards, and discount coupon features, which you can easily find in other e-commerce platforms.
- It lacks social commerce capabilities. Meaning the feature that allows merchants to sell on Facebook and other social media platforms is absent.
Why should you choose YoKart over others?
For multi-vendor stores such as eBay and Etsy, YoKart is a great choice. Its startup package is a hosted solution with a one-year license, which costs $250 and allows startups to verify their business model.
The advanced version is self-hosted, customizable, costs $999 (one time), and is intended for companies who have a sound business model.
Switching from a startup to an advanced package is also quite easy.
5. Big Cartel
With the slogan ‘We believe in the artist’, Big Cartel targets artists & other small-scale home-based businesses run by individuals. The platform claims to have helped over a million artists in selling their creations online since it launched in 2005.
This extremely simple to use hosted system is often regarded as the best ticket for artists and other creative people to enter the e-commerce arena.
The Benefits of Big Cartel
- Extremely simple to set up a store and manage it.
- Facebook shop access.
- Aesthetically sound themes.
- Comprehensive Help Center with useful video tutorials, support via email, and Big Cartel’s Facebook & Twitter accounts.
Fallbacks of Big Cartel
- Limited functionality. The simple to use platforms offers very limited functionality. This is a letdown for those who want to do more than just sell products.
- Big Cartel’s theme library is limited to 12 themes, out of which only 2 are responsive (meaning optimized for mobile devices). There are limited add-ons; however, store owners can get access to 500+ apps via Zapier integration.
- Big Cartel targets a very specific segment. Currently, it only offers social commerce for Facebook. Given its target audience who are artists & creative individuals, it will likely include other social networks in the future.
Why should you choose Big Cartel over others?
As stated previously, this platform is ideal for individual artists and creative people. With its simplistic stores and economical pricing ($0 to $29.99/month), Big Cartel allows artists to sell things online easily with a good-looking website.
Thereby allowing the artist to focus on creating things instead of managing their online store.
Here’s a comparative chart that puts these e-commerce platforms in a clearer perspective
The growing dominance of mobile and social media shows no sign of slowing down. Using social and mobile platforms as vehicles to reach new customers and drive more sales is a critical aspect of any e-commerce platform in the coming years.
While searching for an e-commerce solution, be sure to check whether the platform will allow you to capitalize on these trends and that the selected e-commerce platform aligns with the projected needs and goals of your business.
We should have plenty of knowledge and questions at our disposal to make the best possible choice for choosing the right platform for our very own online store.