Which E commerce Platform Is Best For Your Online Store?
Figuring out an ecommerce platform can be tricky – especially if you aren’t from a technical background. This blog simplifies your research work while helping you in choosing the platform that best suits your needs. Remember; every CMS and every managed platform has its individual pros and cons and as already discussed choosing the right one typically depends on your business size, business goal and requirements
The global ecommerce market has been growing at a record pace. Almost as the next obvious result a lot of new trends have surfaced. As things stand now; there are a whole lot of factors that need to be figured out when it comes to the point of starting out a new ecommerce venture.
Selection of the ecommerce platform is definitely the most crucial first step to consider. The number of content management systems and ecommerce platforms available has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. In such a landscape figuring out an ecommerce platform can be tricky – especially if you aren’t from a technical background. This blog is created to simplify your research work while helping you in choosing the platform that best suit your needs
Content Management Systems (CMS) Vs. Managed e-commerce platforms – Let’s decode
Broadly there are 2 options available for building your ecommerce website. You can either use open-source Content Management Systems like Magento or may stick to the managed (hosted) ecommerce platform like Shopify, BigCommerce etc.
As the name implies, the managed (hosted) ecommerce platform is typically hosted on a server to which you won’t have an access. On the other hand the CMS based websites are self hosted and you have to purchase the server space.
Below is a list of benefits of both to help you make an informed decision
Advantages of using managed (Hosted) ecommerce platforms
Lower cost for development and maintenance: No. There is absolutely no coding experience required for setting up your online store on a hosted platform. Thereby it eliminates the need for hiring a development team. Moreover; the hosting is shared and thereby it limits the server costs
You get technical support: Most of the online managed ecommerce store creators have a strong tech team to support users with almost any and every issues, which may arise.
These are less complex to work with: All of these managed platforms have very easy and user friendly back-end to help people with limited technical knowledge.
Advantages of using a CMS platform
It offer better and advanced functionality: The multitude of add-ons, themes and plug-ins that are available in the content management systems provides them with advanced functionalities, which won’t be possible with the self-hosted platforms.
It provides better customizability: Yes, CMS allows the ultimate freedom to add and modify features. It also allows you to build a whole customized design that is unique to your brand.
Provides better user experience: Feature rich content management system allows for constant improvements and further enhancements to suit each unique business need! This further adds to the user experience (UX) on the site, which is definitely a key player in this competitive ecommerce landscape.
Supports sophisticated websites and large stores: Since Content Management Systems are self hosted they do not restrict the number of categories and products that could be uploaded. Of course; they can handle much sophisticated websites and larger stores.
Your choice for the ecommerce platform however largely depends on a number of factors such as –
- Your level of technical involvement
- Your specific business needs
- Your store strength
- The size of your business
- Your current business goal and requirements
Once you have made up your mind on going ahead with any one of these, here’s a comprehensive list of 5 best options which you may explore in each segment.
Here are the 5 best content management systems (CMS)
If you have finally figured out that CMS stands as the best solution for your online store, here’s a quick rundown of the 5 best CMS that are available in the market
PrestaShop: PretaShop has been catering the discerning retailers with more than 310 features. It offers powerful catalog management, differentiated product displays, in-built SEO features, quick check out system, integrated payment gateway, marketing tools, security and much more
- PrestaShop offers product comparison feature to make better buying decisions
- It offers layered navigation and this makes it easy to find products in chosen categories
- It also enhances the SEO attributes of the website
- It provides better inventory management facilities
- Provides filtered search by product attributes
- Allows customers to write product reviews and share favorite products
Magento: With more than 200, 000 businesses with their stores on Magento platform, this CMS platform enjoy unquestionable credibility. Its CMS come in all possible packages and also cater to the growing needs of the fast growing businesses. Magento offers state of the art customer experience.
- Magento offers rule based product relations functionality
- It allows you to promote specific products to specific sections
- Lets you attach personalized coupon codes to newsletters and more
- Allows you to create customized websites from a single administrative panel
- Allows you to pick from hundreds of added extensions
- Lets you configure your web store for multiple tax and currency classifications
- Offer safe and secure mobile initiated transactions
ZenCart: It has successfully put the basic need and requirements of business owners at the forefront. It offers a fair degree of customization and comes loaded with a whole range of product management features to cater to the need of the small and medium sized business owners.
- It allows you to add infinite products and categories
- It comes with wholesome management features to help you prepare exhaustive product catalog
- It allows you to add and download content for sale
- It allows you to add newsletters, coupons, gift cards and other marketing tools
- Provides you with lots of free ZenCart templates
- Provides you with additional widgets such as event calendars, Facebook integration, Google maps etc
OsCommerce: It clubs together all the selling functions which business may need for setting up an online store. It offers multi lingual setup, cross browser compatibility, integrated payment gateways and unlimited categories and products. It also provides lifetime free upgrades and support.
- It offers product comparison features
- Its import/export features let you easily make mass changes to your website
- You can add coupons to promote product categories
- Provides you with email templates to let you connect with customers
- Its feature rich add-ons help you perform specific functions
- Provides secure transactions using SSL support
- Allows zone based shipping and tax calculations
Virtue Mart: This super cool Joomla MVC based eCommerce CMS framework offer a whole bunch of advantages. The joomla plug-ins allows enhanced management of shipping, coupons, calculation rules, products and more.
- It offers exciting product displays
- It helps you list products in special categories like – Top 10, latest, features etc
- Provides you with customizable and sortable product search lists
- Comes loaded with marketing tools like page share with friends, coupons etc
Below is the detailed comparison of the most popular ecommerce platforms to help you find out the best one for your business. You should always keep your business goal, business size, store strength and business requirements in mind when choosing the relevant platform for your online store
Take a look at the 5 best hosted ecommerce platforms
If you have made up your mind that a hosted ecommerce solution suits your business best, then below are the 5 best platforms available to choose from.
Shopify: It is one of the most popular and the most sought after online shopping cart tools. Small stores prefer shopify. It offers an exhaustive selection of professional themes and hundreds of apps. It also comes with unlimited products and bandwidth. Its success lies in the adaptation of an app store to help you expand your default web store.
- It allows you to easily integrate the shipping companies and fulfillment centers
- It offers mobile app facility for accepting payments and for managing your store
- It allows ‘Point-of-sale system’ to help register payments in your brick and mortar store
- Shopify team help you in successfully setting up your store
BigCommerce: This is yet another popular online shopping cart for small- to medium-sized Web stores. Features such as gift cards, real-time shipping quotes & 24/7 phone/mail/chat support makes this a preferred platform. However this feature is included in its base plan price. It comes loaded with features and offers unlimited products, storage and bandwidth.
- Provides Google Trusted Store certification assistance
- Provides complete assisted set up for increasing sales
- Can be easily integrated with eBay, Google Shopping and more
Volusion: Volusion is yet another most used online shopping cart after Shopify. In fact it offers the “abandoned cart recovery” feature with its starter plan, which adds to its popularity. Although it is limited with just 100 products and just 1 GB of data usage however it has all the necessary features to get started.
- Comes loaded with built-in loyalty program
- Comes with built-in Deal of the Day option
- Offers Amazon and eBay integration
1ShoppingCart: This all in one solution does not only help you to set up your online store but also allows you to easily integrate the payment functionality into your default website. It provides you with auto responders to follow up on customers. It also has an integrated affiliate program. This feature rich platform is a bit pricey and also requires a lot of studying for using all of the features that it offers.
- Comes with built-in affiliate program
- Offers excellent up sell abilities
- Provides with a number of ways to follow up with your customer
3dcart: Although the product setup page looks clichéd however 3dcart offers state of the art setup steps and wonderful tutorials to help you. With 3dcart you can do everything ranging from choosing a template to constructing your shipping options.
- It offers a drag and drop editor
- Its super clean wizard is ideal for beginners.
The list will remain incomplete without talking about Wix
This is basically a free website builder, which has been gaining popularity. It offers ecommerce features under its premium package. Wix-ecommerce may not impress you with its features however it’s enough to get you started. Its striking visual design interface truly sets it apart. It allows you the freedom to position every element of your site in almost any color. Try out wix if you are selling a limited number of products
- Comes with a visual editor with template references
- Easy to set up and low pricing
- There’s no transaction costs barring the monthly fee
Takeaway? Every CMS and every managed platform has its individual pros and cons and as already discussed choosing the right one typically depends on your business size, business goal and requirements. From our experience; if you are going for a hosted platform then Shopify might be the best option, on the other hand if you are going for CMS then Magento would certainly work best.
Also; keep in mind; switching ecommerce platform once your store is up and running is anything but easy and the process can be a nightmare. So ensure that you take a prudent approach and careful decision with a whole lot of foresight.
Contact us, if in case you are looking forward to get into the e commerce bandwagon. Yes, we would be glad to assist you!