E-commerce platforms are software on which an online business is developed and launched. From product pages to blogs, transaction pages to check-out sections, etc., are all managed through these platforms. Hence, the success of an e-commerce business hinges on the platform on which it is built and hosted.
A wide range of alternatives is available in this domain, from paid platforms to free open-source options. Before getting down to the actual task of selecting a platform, you should familiarize yourself with the term ‘platform design’. This not only factors in the technical aspects but also encompasses the overall business perspective.
An ideal e-commerce platform should include the following:
- A unified platform that takes care of all your business needs
- Provides a seamless experience to customers across all touch points
- Has an effective in-built order management system
- Should be conducive to future expansion
- SEO enablement
- Has strong backend support with a quick turnaround time
Based on the above criteria, we have shortlisted the 6 most popular e-commerce platforms to build your store.
Arguably the most popular e-commerce platform in the world, Magneto is also known to have highly complex coding. If you have an efficient developer in your team or you are ready to outsource to a pro, then Magneto could be an ideal platform. Global giants like Nike, PandG, and Cisco choose Magneto for building feature-rich online stores. Some of its strongest benefits are:
- Robust and versatile content management: Based on the thumb rule of ‘what you see is what you get, Magneto’s strong backend content management interface allows owners to customize features as per requirement.
- SEO friendly: This essential feature enables online businesses to rank higher on search engines like Google and Bing.
- Flexible hosting and third-party integration: This feature helps businesses to collaborate with third-party applications like Mailchimp, Google Shopping and more.
- Mobile-responsive: Magneto user interfaces are adaptable to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
- 1-click selling: Making the check-out process easy, Magneto enables 1-click selling to ensure higher conversion.
- Customizability: It’s highly customizable to create room for future business expansion. You can manage multiple ecommerce stores through one Magneto instance.
- Spacious and hardy: e-businesses can manage upto 500,000 products and 80,000 orders per hour.
Despite the great benefits of Magneto, it also comes with some disadvantages.
- It’s expensive: Though the basic version is free, the enterprise version can cost you to the tune of $20000 per annum.
- Requires technical expertise: Magneto’s complicated coding mandates an expert developer to handle the software.
- Can slow down easily
Are you familiar with the popular blogging platform WordPress? WooCommerce is WordPress’s response to the selling needs of its existing or potential users. It’s ideally suited to run e-commerce and affiliate sites under the same platform.
By installing simple plugins, this free open-source platform can turn your WordPress site into an online store. This model works well for small businesses that can utilize WordPress developmental resources to tailor an easy-to-use interface for their clients.
The benefits of WooCommerce:
- WooCommerce’s SEO-friendly attributes to help your site rank high in SERP
- 1 click selling is available
- Hosts of marketing integration, such as email marketing and social media activation, are possible on this platform.
- Numerous WordPress developers are available globally who can set up WooCommerce in a jiffy.
- It’s PCI compliant and ensures safe transactions between customers and the server.
- Highly customizable with enough in-built themes that come free of cost.
- It’s not sturdy enough to handle an increase in product categories or the number of customers.
- For simple selling features, you need to download plugins.
- Poor customer support.
- Expensive hosting options.
This free, open-source platform has a simple setup mechanism. It enables you to keep an overview of multiple stores from a single interface. OpenCart is highly customizable, which allows you to have different designs, product categories, promotional offers, etc. for different locations. Its super-utility dashboard keeps you up-to-date regarding key business metrics like sales, repeat customers, and so on. With 13000 modules and themes, you can build a unique website with required integrations to suit your business.
Upsides of OpenCart:
- Highly adaptable to different needs of different businesses.
- Numerous integration options to cater to your specific store requirement.
- It’s a free platform. Hence, your business induction cost is minimized.
- Recurring developmental costs are also low.
Downsides of OpenCart:
- Not enough in-built marketing tools.
- Not amongst the fastest platforms.
- Its self-hosting nature entails managing all key functional areas, such as hosting, development and maintenance.
With 3,882,345 live sites running on this platform, you are certain that it’s one of the best options available in the market. Many experts will vouch for Shopify as the best SaaS (software-as-a-service) e-commerce platform, perfectly suited for sales-oriented websites. Shopify comes with an array of customizable templates that you can tailor to match your requirements.
Shopify’s multichannel selling feature and dropshipping allow you to sell from your website, your retail outlet, through your social media platforms, and other marketplaces. If you have a blog where you want to add a ‘Buy Now’ button, Shopify Lite can help you do that at a low cost. The full e-commerce model starts at $29 per month with all the necessary tools to kick-start your e-business.
Its mobile app comes in very handy to manage your stores on the go.
Shopify’s bouquet of benefits:
- Extremely easy to set-up
- Superfast loading time
- Complete hosting
- Unlimited bandwidth and online storage takes care of your growing business
- You get competitive shipping costs from USPS, UPS, DHL Express, etc.
- 1-click selling for faster check-out
- Several Shopify partners are available globally for assistance
- Secure platform to handle sensitive data
- Low recurring monthly cost
Some of the glitches:
- Using external gateways comes at an additional cost
- Delays in response from the technical support team
- Multiple apps can add to the overall cost
This easy-to-install, open source, free software is great for getting your business up and running in no time. It comes with many custom design modules to choose from.
This SEO-friendly platform comes with a number of built-in performance enhancement tools to keep your website’s ranking high.
A large community of business owners and developers are always ready to solve any problems you may face while using the platform.
Equipped with 75 languages
Advantages of PrestaShop:
- Robust analytics and database management tools
- Low incremental cost
- highly versatile
- Effective store-management system
- Limited scalability
- Not enough free customer support
As the name suggests, BigCommerce is the answer for Big businesses aspiring to enter the e-commerce mainframe.
It comes with an umbrella of e-commerce tools that are adaptable for both B2B and B2C businesses.
- Vast inventory management
- Unlimited user accounts
- Outstanding multi-channel selling
- Fully hosted
- Various payment modes
- Robust SEO performance
- No 1-click selling
- Varying speeds
- Expensive for high volume business
With a plethora of options to select your e-commerce platforms, it’s advisable to keep the following points in mind while selecting.
- Judiciously assess your budget.
- Check for secure payment gateways.
- Consider the scalability of your platform.
- Check out customer service and end-user experience.
- Choose a good web host.
- SEO friendliness and marketing tools
- Multichannel selling integration.