Do you want to start your online business and start making money? An E-Commerce platform allows you to create your own online store without having any coding skills, a high budget, or a web design degree. They come packed with designs and features unique to e-commerce to make setting up your store as easy and as effective as possible.
There are so many e-commerce platforms available, choosing one that can quickly get pretty confusing particularly as all of them strive to be the best.
A top e-commerce platform can provide you with essential features while keeping complexity low. We have dedicated hours and hours to study the features, ease of use, add-ons/extensions, themes, support, security, pricing of these platforms. And compiled this essential guide to help you better understand these platforms. After reading this post, you’ll have a clear idea of these platforms, and you’ll be able to choose the best platforms for your online business.
In addition, you will learn about common questions and their answers to e-commerce platforms. To clear up all your doubts about this.
What is an E-Commerce Platform?
An e-commerce platform is a software application that allows companies to manage their website, marketing, sales, and operations.
Ecommerce platforms have the powerful features required to run a business, while also integrating with popular business tools allowing companies to centralize their business and operate their company.
Why Do You Use an Ecommerce Platform?
If you’re expanding a brick-and-mortar shop, searching for an enterprise-level solution, or even starting a company from scratch, your e-commerce platform option has a significant effect on your business’ competitiveness and stability.
What types of e-commerce platforms are there?
There are three different types of e-commerce platforms:
- SaaS (Service Software)
- Headless commerce
Open-source e-commerce platforms are e-commerce solutions that allow you to change all aspects of the code.
This type of e-commerce platform was the most popular in the early 2000s and continues to be popular with emerging and IT-intensive organizations needing to manage their e-commerce environment 100 percent.
2. SaaS (Service Provider)
SaaS eCommerce platforms eliminate a great deal of difficulty from running an online business, since rather than handling the program itself.
You are simply “renting” the platform instead of designing and creating a custom solution or an open-source solution (which is also built as a custom one).
This is a much cheaper choice when factoring the production costs than open-source solutions.
The SaaS provider handles the product updates, security, storage, compliance with PCI, and any other tasks associated with running your own software.
3. Headless commerce
Headless Commerce is a CaaS eCommerce version in which the shopping cart is decoupled from the CMS.
In such cases, brands often use design experience platforms (DXPs) such as Adobe Experience Manager and Bloomreach or a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal. Then they plug in a decoupled e-commerce shopping cart solution to serve as a cart.
Headless Commerce reduces this pain by making it possible to move faster to the market with a significantly lower total cost of ownership.
What are the Best E-Commerce Platforms?
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce platform that offers an e-commerce solution. It’s a plugin that you can use on WordPress websites. WordPress was first designed for bloggers, later added a variety of ideas, and you can extend its features using plugins.
WooCommerce platform is most commonly used by starter stores and enthusiasts, bloggers expanding their services, and offering to online. Also, there are over 55,000 plugins available to integrate payment gateways, social media, email marketing, 1-click promotions, security, and shipping.
If you know the WordPress platform then WooCommerce is fun for you. You just need to install it, add your own products, and correct the settings.
People unaware of WordPress will struggle with the technical details. This includes hosting costs, WordPress installation, setting up the theme, and plugins.
WordPress is considered to be one of the best platforms for SEO. And the set up of WordPress and WooCommerce is one click, So even if you are a beginner after watching some tutorials you will be able to do that easily. The WordPress community is so big that you will find so many experts, blogs, and videos always available for any of your problems. The platform offers a lot of customization options but in some cases, you need to install plugins for that and some may charge you for that.
The biggest challenge isn’t set up. It can be solved with tutorials from YouTube. However, the problem here is scalability. Some users said it was slowing down because they were having more products and customers.
The cost of WooComerce is free. However, you will have to pay for the hosting service, premium themes, and plugins that you use. Some themes are very costly. But you can easily use this without each and every plugin, and there are nice free themes.
Shopify is a well established, public SaaS e-commerce platform provider. They’re famous with starter stores, hobbyists, and brands.
Shopify benefits include a fast learning curve for non-experienced e-commerce users, which leads to a fast go-to-market for new brands. They do have Shopify Plus, an enterprise solution.
If you want to start your first store or dropshipping business, this is one of the best starting choices. It also incorporates Facebook, Pinterest, Google marketing platforms (depending on your location) to provide you with a marketing solution directly from your Shopify dashboard.
Setting up Shopify is quick and easy, you’ll understand the environment quickly, and their detailed blogs are very helpful. If you still can’t find anything you can contact Shopify support via chat, email, or call, and they’ll help you out. The support team is very helpful to you.
Shopify supports integration with many payment providers, they also offer well-functioning shopping, tax features that are easy to set up. Shop POS is also available to sell products and make payments at the point of sale.
There are very fewer themes available than 10, and paid themes are expensive, starting from about $70 to $180. Here, too, you can install various apps to extend the features of your store. However, the plugins available are very less compared to WordPress.
The one area where it performs average is the SEO, where you can customize meta tags, alt tags, but other than that there are far fewer plugins for optimizing the cache, images of your site. We would recommend that you use lightweight images, use fewer plugins to make your website load faster.
There are four primary plans available. Basic, Shopify, Advanced, and Shopify Gold (Enterprise Plan). The plans are worth $29, $79 and $299, respectively. You can contact Shopify for the Shopify Gold plan.
BigCommerce is considered an Open SaaS platform provider and a growing Headless Commerce provider based on low overall ownership costs and highly flexible APIs.
The advantages of BigCommerce include the uniquely sophisticated customization and flexibility of the SaaS eCommerce platform. Its robust product search engine makes it suitable for larger retail brands. It is also a good option for people who want to start an e-commerce shop or who have a brick and mortar shop and want to extend their online orders to include their operations. The tools available enable success in any niche or industry.
The interface helps you customize your online shop without having to learn how to design, sell, and market your products using any of the available customizable templates. It’s aimed at those who lack too much web design experience, but it also helps tech-savvy individuals tweak HTML and CSS.
You’ll see advanced and buyer-centric templates in the store, but very few are free. Two to be exact with variations on both of them making a total of seven free themes.
There is a large community of designers and developers on the fly. The Partner Directory helps you find an expert for an extra hand.
The platform also offers small business and start-up plans, the lowest plan costs $29.95 per month. Some goodies, such as checkout codes, gift cards, unlimited bandwidth, and professional reporting, come along. However, you don’t get a custom SSL or an abandoned cart saver, but it’s still really good for simple stores that don’t sell more than 50k a year. As the plan goes up, so does the sales limit.
Bigcommerce offers integration options to make the platform the frontrunner of headless business solutions.
The initial learning curve of BigCommerce is more than some other SaaS platforms due to the complexity of the built-in features.
Magento is an on-premise open-source solution favored by companies who have already invested heavily in IT or development teams. In recent years, Magento 2 (Magento Commerce Cloud, or Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition) has launched an open-source software solution.
Big companies including Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Cisco trust Magento. Coding is essential to the package. So, if you have a developer or budget for one-and you want something really versatile and strong-Magento is a solid choice. You can do and undo before you have the online store rich in apps you’d like.
The Community is a big part of Magento. It’s large with developers willing to work for a fee on your site or answer any of your questions for free. There’s also a marketplace where you can get extensions and themes to make the site more functional.
The annual license fee is in the range of ten thousand dollars. That’s big but it’s on the cloud, quicker, and comes with additional features including automated email campaigns based on triggers and automated cross/upselling.
Whatever you pick, you’ll be able to enjoy the long list of features you can expand. Items like discounts, monthly fees, the freedom to refine SEO, change content per user, subscriptions to memberships, complimentary items, etc.
Squarespace is a provider of SaaS platforms. They’re best known for their work with the creative community. Their e-commerce platform was fueled by the creative community’s need for a light-weight cart to sell goods.
Squarespace offers sleek templates and design capabilities. If you don’t need a lot of features, try them out. It’s also great for print on demand e-commerce business.
It is primarily used by the low-volume SKU creative community.
Squarespace provides sleek templates and design capabilities. If you don’t need a lot of features, try it out. It’s also great for e-commerce on-demand printing.
The package comes with all the basic features you’d expect from the e-commerce platform, all set on the side menu.
However, the design part of the website is not that easy. Their drag-and-drop editor is not as great as Weebly’s. You might have to try your hands on it a couple of times before you get the hang of it. Once you’ve completed the design phase of your website, you’ll have access to marketing, inventory, social sales, SEO, and analytics features.
Squarespace integrates ShipStation and lets you install Printul and ShipBob from the App section. Real-time calculation of shipping rates by major providers (UPS, FedEx, USPS) is also available.
The prices are pretty low. To start selling, you need to have at least $18/month billed annually on the Business website plan. Note that you’re going to have to pay 3% of transaction fees.
You can survive that with any of the $26 and $40 e-commerce plans. The top plan allows you to get abandoned cart auto-recovery, sell subscriptions and gift cards, and give flexible discounts.
Squarespace disadvantages include limited shipping & payment gateway solutions as well as limited discounts and complexity for basic built-in e-commerce features.
Check out the comparison between WooCommerce and Squarespace. And learn which one is best for you in 2020.
Like Squarespace, Wix is best known for its easy to set up a website. Keeping it easy with a drag-and-drop interface, competitive pricing, and cutting-edge buying and free themes.
Wix is most commonly used by businessmen and other creative small companies. The platform prides itself on being a solution for beginners as well as experts finding artistic expression in their work on their website. They are an appropriate starting-stage solution but lack advanced e-commerce capabilities.
Of all the top website builders We’ve been working with, while building the store, Wix topped most for customer service on the store.
To add cool images, features and build the website you like, you can drag and drop elements in. They have over 500 themes and 72 of them are free. Unfortunately, at the time of publishing the site, you’re stuck with whatever theme you want even if you’ve used their ADI.
Wix is still new to the e-commerce space and many consumers are calling for the features that they lack. And I think it isn’t going to be long before they catch up.
Founded in 2007, Prestashop is an open-source freemium e-commerce platform, based on the cloud.
The platform can be used in 60 languages and is common outside English-speaking countries where other providers of platforms dominate.
You can either download and configure the software to fit your needs for free or go to PrestaShop Ready which is the paid edition for €24.90 a month or €19.90 if you pay annually.
Although the word “free” makes most of us salivate immediately, the other costs you’ll pay for the free version can make PrestaShop Ready look like a better choice, particularly if you don’t have the technical skills.
You’ll need to pay for web hosting, SSL licenses, and other modules to complete your store with a free downloadable version. Remember, if you don’t have a lot of technical expertise in HTML, CSS, and/or PHP, you will have to pay for the developer for customizing your store. This open-code enables full integration with couriers, gateways for payment, accounting, warehouses, ERP, and more.
PrestaShop Ready is just like the other hosted platforms. You have access to the trial for 16 days, or you pay immediately. It comes with certificate SSL. The admin is available with ten themes (all free). You may need little information about HTML and CSS as the customizer theme does not have a drag and drop feature.
The Dashboard is simple and straightforward. There’s a video onboard, but it’s not as comprehensive as Shopify. However, most of the needs can meet through the modules that you enable with a single click. They allow better SEO work, Ads, Cross-selling, and Social Analytics.
Best E-commerce Platform for Small Business
Small companies do not need all the major features that suck their bank money. Beyond cost, the platform’s pricing structure is essential – whether it’s monthly or annual payments or other fees.
We checked the scalability of our tests. Looks at the features that help grow your site. When your profits start accumulating, you’ll want to scale your activities seamlessly. This means multi-channel sales and even countries on other platforms. When you scale, you will do need apps that are designed just for your company.
Best E-Commerce platform for Beginners & Startups
Like small companies, startups also need a network that enables them to grow easily and break through the ones that already exist. Since you may be entering the market as a large store owner, your platform needs to be able to handle what you initially bring in while leaving space for further growth.
Our research has tested the functionalities expected by startups. That includes SEO, good UX design, marketing inputs, and sales capability on multiple channels such as mobile apps and social networks.
Best Ecommerce Platform For SEO
SEO is key. You’ll have a hard time running an e-commerce shop if web users aren’t able to find your website via a search engine. Many platforms offer such SEO tools for boosting your website. Also, some are stronger than others.
In our testing we focused on page load time, mobile and desktop speed, SEO, and average organic traffic from top online stores for each platform, the best e-commerce platforms for SEO.
Best Ecommerce Platform For Large Businesses
If you are running a large e-commerce company, you may want full control and independence of the database. In that case, you are looking to purchase from a web hosting company a dedicated server or VPS and set up your site in there. As such, you won’t be happy with SAAS like Shopify.
However, if you’d rather set it up and not mess with the technicalities of web hosting, it might be a website like BigCommerce.
Since you have orders ranging in hundreds or thousands every week, you’ll need a platform that gives you enough flexibility to attach devices, helps you minimize errors, and incorporates your warehouse management and other inventory systems seamlessly.
You can choose from any of the above mentioned online store platforms. Most of these platforms do a good job. If you still have questions, please drop a comment below.
I hope you find this post useful.
You may also like: