Whether you're launching an online business, bringing an offline brand into the digital realm, or you've reached the stage where your online presence takes in thousands of orders each week or month, the eCommerce platform on which your shop is located has a significant impact on your business growth.
Imagine having a surge of visitors only to discover that your storefront isn't working properly. Consider the checkout system failing, resulting in a revenue loss you did not anticipate. Whatever stage of business you are in, the eCommerce platform you choose is the cornerstone of success.
In this post, we'll go through the characteristics of a solid eCommerce platform depending on the stages of business. We will also list some of the best eCommerce solutions you can pick for your online store.
Table of Contents:
What is an eCommerce Platform, and Why You Need One
An eCommerce platform is the retail equivalent of a content management system (CMS). With all-in-one eCommerce software, you would be able to operate your online store from a single platform. Top eCommerce platforms include everything from stock reports and order processing to establishing refunds and return policies.
Ecommerce systems allow you to create your own online store without any coding experience, a large budget, or a web design degree. These platforms have eCommerce-specific designs and features that make it simple to set up your online business and get started on the path to success.
With that said, keep in mind that eCommerce software solutions differ, and select the best one for your needs. Spend some time examining all of your requirements, and you'll be able to choose the ideal eCommerce platform for you. If you are launching a tiny store, for example, there is no point in spending a lot of money on powerful and pricey software that has far more features than your store requires.
How to Choose your eCommerce Platform
When selecting an eCommerce platform, keep in mind that you are not required to use its default installation. You can acquire a customized version of any eCommerce platform tailored to your needs if you employ a developer.
When evaluating eCommerce platforms, you must analyze all of their capabilities to determine which software solution best meets your needs. The popularity of a platform is not always a good thing because more popular eCommerce solutions are more likely to have security flaws.
Choose from the Best eCommerce Platforms
There are numerous eCommerce platforms accessible, making it difficult to select just one. We are here to assist you by providing some useful information on four of the greatest eCommerce solutions.
WooCommerce is a perfect eCommerce platform for launching an online store quickly and efficiently.
According to Statista, 36.68% of the leading eCommerce platforms are using WooCommerce (October 2022).
There are numerous benefits and drawbacks to using WooCommerce that you should be aware of before diving into the realm of eCommerce. Before proceeding, it is critical to understand the various advantages of WooCommerce.
But is everything on this platform positive? Of course not; thus, you must weigh all of WooCommerce's advantages and disadvantages.
- Completely free and open source. WooCommerce software is notable not only for its low cost but also for its open-source nature. Because it is founded on open cooperation, any user, designer, or programmer can modify its code.
- Shopify, Magento, and other WooCommerce competitors offer free versions, but their sophisticated features necessitate the use of premium payment plans. Nevertheless, certain extensions of WooCommerce require a punctual payment or even monthly fees. This is a disadvantage that will be addressed later.
- WooCommerce is an especially advisable option for those who have previous experience with WordPress.
- WooCommerce customization options shine with special intensity. There are thousands of themes for this platform. After choosing the most suitable one, it is possible to customize all its sections: header, footer, product sheets, checkouts, etc. This is possible thanks to free access to CSS, HTML, and PHP style code. Therefore, WooCommerce is suitable for professional users as well as for beginners.
- WooCommerce is flexible – it adapts like a glove to all kinds of online shops, regardless of their market niche or their products.
- WooCommerce can be configured to sell physical, virtual, or downloadable products. It can also be adapted to affiliate systems and other business models.
- Among the benefits of using WooCommerce is also security. This platform is regularly updated to keep up to date with cybersecurity. But the WooCommerce plugin does not include elements such as the SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) or backup tools to make backups.
- When it comes to payment security, WooCommerce is perfectly complemented with secure gateways and e-wallets, such as Stripe, PayPal, WePay, or Payza.
- Another of the most outstanding aspects of WooCommerce is its community of users, developers, and contributors. In WooCommerce Community, you will find abundant documentation, articles, and informative guides. It also has several forums specialized in this platform. A good example is WooCommece Support Forum, but there are many others, such as Upload WP Community Forums. In case of problems or technical queries, you will receive help from a large community of active users.
So far, it is clear that WooCommerce is the first choice to launch an online store. But is it really a free platform, and what are its disadvantages?
- WooCommerce has a plethora of plugins. It’s amazing how many tools and features can be added. But this has a disadvantage that goes unnoticed by less experienced users: installing too many plugins and extensions tends to slow downloading speed and overall performance. This is because they take up a lot of memory.
- Downloading and installing this WordPress plugin is free of charge. Most of its widgets and add-ons are free. However, as mentioned above, the installation of some extensions may require a punctual payment or the hiring of plans with monthly fees.
- It is true that launching a store and starting to sell does not require the purchase of any extension. But if, for example, you want to implement a payment gateway, specific subscription services, inventory management aids, or other utilities, you will have to assume this cost. This weak point of WooCommerce is not inconsistent with other qualities of this platform. For example, its flexibility.
So, if you are taking your first steps in eCommerce and don’t want to assume big expenses—WooCommerce is for you. Also, if you have a high volume of sales and want to expand your business with new features—WooCommerce is for you.
Together with Shopify and WooCommerce, Magento is one of the largest e-commerce platforms on the market. Hundreds of thousands of online stores have been launched with this software!
However, among its many advantages, we recognize some weaknesses which should be considered before starting our commercial adventure. Would you like to discover what the main pros and cons of Magento are?
The Magento story began in 2017. Roy Rubin launched the first version of this platform earlier this year. At that time, it already had some of its most remarkable features: customizable design, flexibility, easy stock management, and so on. For all these reasons, Adobe would buy it in 2018 for $1.4 billion, no less.
Today Magento continues to be one of the best options for launching an online store without much knowledge of CSS, HTML, or other programming languages.
As you will discover in the following lines, the optimized design for SEO, good scalability, and multiple customization options stand out among the advantages of Magento.
But this platform also has its weaknesses: very expensive plans or the need to use web hosting, among others.
- Achieving optimal positioning in search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) is important for eCommerce.
- Much of the traffic from Amazon, Walmart, and other successful marketplaces comes from organic results, not paid ones.
- Both in its web architecture and in the sections that can be customized in this sense.
- Allows you to modify the URL of each of its pages. It is also possible to alter their meta descriptions, the sitemap, and other aspects.
- Scalability shines with special intensity. Scalability is important, and therefore their plans are designed to encourage this progression. It is logical that it should be.
- Magento allows you to start selling quickly from a very simple shop. But as it grows, its design becomes more ambitious.
- Magento offers a solution that adapts like a glove to the needs of its customers – although the quality-price ratio is a point to discuss, as will be revealed later.
- Has a simple interface with multiple customization options. Of course, you don’t need to be familiar with style languages like CSS or HTML. However, in Magento, it is possible to modify them as well. And that’s precisely where their power lies. Professionals, as well as novices, can achieve excellent results.
- Magento and its extensions are perfect for adding new features. Just go to Magento Marketplaces and click on Extensions (marketplace.magento.com/extensions.html) – there are more than 4,600 to choose from.
- Open-source software tends to be supported by a larger number of developers and design professionals – the same goes for Magento.
- Magento Community (magento.com/community) has more than 360,000 active users and more than 1,500 partners.
Magento is not a perfect platform. It has its drawbacks. And among them:
- The slowness of loading during the customization process stands out; quite complex when compared to some other platforms.
- Many configurable options. It can practically be modified to 100%. But the performance of its interface, though simple, leaves a lot to be desired.
- The platform has a free version (Magento Community Edition) aimed at entrepreneurs and startups. However, the support and use of extensions require payment.
- Magento customers must host their websites via a web host. Its configuration and proper operation, in addition, are the responsibility of the owners of the online store.
- Many of your customers are not familiar with domains, hosting, etc. This requires certain skills that have to be learned beforehand, which is a big obstacle for some of its users.
But we must not forget WooCommerce, Shopify, and other alternatives. Contrasting the pros and cons of all will help us find the best option for our eCommerce.
We are now in the thick of the digital age. This is a time when most of our transactions can now be carried out online. So, of course, it makes sense that almost every entrepreneur is clamoring to build their brand online – including you.
In your quest to digitalize your business, you might have come across various e-commerce solutions that promise to equip you with the tools to oversee your online operations. At the forefront of it all may be OpenCart.
We understand that you probably want to get to know this online selling platform better before investing in it. This is why, in this article, we have outlined the pros and cons of the OpenCart eCommerce platform.
One of the best things about OpenCart is its friendly user interface. It puts a premium feel on simplicity. With a clean and simple environment, the learning curve in navigating the dashboard is virtually nonexistent because you can access all the information you need at a glance. With OpenCart, every command is just within arms reach, making it an excellent fit for both novice and expert entrepreneurs.
- It helps you expand your efforts internationally. Who doesn’t want worldwide recognition for their online business, right? With OpenCart, you can easily set up your store in multiple languages and varying levels of customization. Without a doubt, the language personalization feature itself can make you an easy favorite among your clients across the globe.
- It has a thorough reporting system. Reporting and analytics are two essential aspects of every online business. With those, you can gauge whether your campaigns are working well or not, or if your goods and services are getting their ROI, etc.
- With OpenCart, you will be given important business insights so you can make well-informed decisions regarding your e-commerce business. You can even customize the formats of your report in a way that makes sense and is more straightforward to you and your business partners/stockholders (if you have any).
- Limited customer support. If you want to enjoy the full extent of their support team, you’d have to pay a one-time fee. This guarantees a response to all of your queries. Understandably, this is an added expense that needs to be considered. This, of course, begs the question as to why business owners should pay extra for customer service and support when other solutions freely offer this important aspect.
- Unlike on other open-source eCommerce platforms, the checkout process can be a bit slow with OpenCart. There are various workarounds to this, of course. First, you can use this for small inventories only. Possibly, you can consider this as an extension to your other eCommerce platforms. Alternatively, you can also install a plugin that would speed up the checkout process a bit.
- At its core, OpenCart is a pretty lightweight solution. However, if you want to maximize its potential, you would need to enhance it with various plugins and add-ons. Not only is the whole setup lengthy, but it’s also subject to trial and error. After all, you need to find a series of extensions that can work together to give you and your customers the best possible experience.
PrestaShop, the open-source, feature-rich eCommerce solution, was established in 2007. Using PrestaShop, you can set up stores in the cloud or through self-hosting. At present, PrestaShop is available in 65 international languages, and 1.25 Lakh online shops across the world use it. This eCommerce platform is easy to use and offers a powerful responsive online store interface for its shoppers. Though it is free, it is rich with a broad set of add-on features. Users consider PrestaShop as the most reliable online shopping solution that promises a fantastic user experience. Like any other eCommerce, PrestaShop eCommerce too has its pros and cons. If you are looking forward to PrestaShop store development, then this article will help you with an insight into the pros and cons of the same. Let us delve into the details;
- Easy to install. From the official website, you need to download the file. Once you download the file, creating a responsive and functioning online store is just a few clicks away. Since the file size is 6Mb, deploying this eCommerce platform is not a dreadful task, even for users with a slow internet connection.
- It is budget-friendly. This open-source shopping cart is free of cost. Merchants who look for minimal investment can depend on Prestashop because the license is not required to set up an online store using PrestaShop.
- The PrestaShop custom design is convenient and simple. Technical knowledge is not required, to run a PrestaShop e-store. It has a simple design and user-friendly back-end interface. A store owner with minimal technical knowledge can easily handle and maintain the website. 25000+ plugins are available for PrestaShop. These plugins make the creation and functioning of the store at ease.
- It is easy to customize a shopping site using Prestashop. As per requirement, it is easy to add or delete features too. Prestashop is very flexible hence it is easy to personalize specific areas of the store during Prestashop website development.
- Prestashop supports multiple currencies and languages. Hence localization is simple. The demographic assistance helps PrestaShop stores run effectively across the globe. Today, Prestashop-based stores are functioning effectively in the USA, India, Canada, UK, Germany, China, and Japan. Though complete support is provided only for English and French, the website is capable of translating approximately 40 to 45 languages.
- Reliable and convenient payment gateways. They use payment options like Google Checkout and PayPal. These payment methods are secure, and there is no worry about fraudulent activities.
- Secure transactions are processed through the SSL protocol system. Moreover, Prestashop supports a one-page checkout process that boosts product purchases.
- Besides these important features, Prestashop comes up with some out-of-the-box features. These features include free promotional tools like automation, Email follow-ups, coupons, deals, and vouchers. The ‘recently viewed products,’ returns management, and order tracking is inbuilt features for the convenience of users.
Now, let us look into the disadvantages of PrestaShop. Like any other shopping solution, Prestashop also has some limitations.
- Limited scalability. This eCommerce platform is suitable for small and medium stores. But when the platform needs to expand, PrestaShop is not the ideal choice.
- The designs of PrestaShop lack a professional touch even though it has essential functions.
- You will not find PrestaShop experts or a support team. This is the main disadvantage of this eCommerce platform. However, the users do not consider this as a drawback as there are 700,000 plus active members (on support pages) who always support the users whenever confusion arises.
As an eCommerce business owner, you might find it challenging to provide the best customer support and avoid unnecessary disputes. Now there’s a new way to handle it better. Want to know how? Read the following review about the Purchase Guard platform to understand how it can help you.