Which Ecommerce Platform is Best For My Online Business?

Starting an online store comes with a whole host of important decisions that need to be made. One of the most crucial parts of this jigsaw is which platform will power your ecommerce website. As this infographic shows, retail ecommerce sales topped a whopping $2.304 billion last year; which just goes to show why it’s so important to make the right decision.

Ecommerce web platforms come under two different categories: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted platforms are hosted on your behalf, whereas self-hosted requires you to find web hosting and attach the software to it.

Hosted platforms offer ticketing systems and around the clock support should something go wrong, which is admittedly very seldom. However, you will need to pay a monthly fee and sometimes this can be quite high.

a selection of ecommerce platform logos

Hosted:

Shopify

An image of the shopify homepage

In terms of users, Shopify holds about 8% of the overall marketing share. The admin interface is easy to use, and although it doesn’t possess the same capabilities as some of the other big online platforms, there isn’t much you won’t be able to achieve with Shopify.

USP

Shopify easily beats the competition with its selection of add-on apps. Shopify has an app store which you can browse, select and install directly on to your website. They have by far the most apps and set up is far more accessible than the competition in the hosted market.

Drawbacks

Although you have some control over it, the checkout page customisations are very limited. If you’re looking to fully brand your checkout pages, then Shopify probably isn’t your bag.

None of the self-hosted options offer this feature, in fact, so if you’re looking for this then skip straight to the self-hosted options.

Pricing  

Prices begin at $29 p/month. If you opt to also use their credit card processor, you will only need to pay the standard 2.9% + a 30 cent rate. The higher the plan, the lower the transaction fee.

Volusion

image of the volusion homepage

Volusion is packaged in a similar way to Shopify, minus the customisation. Volusion is the least popular platform on the list; however, they still have nearly 200,000 users worldwide.

USP

Volusion is almost 50% cheaper than Shopify and prides itself on offering responsive and in-depth customer support.

Drawbacks

As we’ve already mentioned, Volusion just doesn’t come with the customisation capabilities of Shopify. Each theme is generated using only one core template, which when combined with the fact that you’re unable to hook up certain email providers, such as Gmail, to the Pro and Premium CRM , it really adds up and explains the low cost.

Price

Volusion starts at as low as $15 a month, however, with a lack of customisation options and the inability to access critical metrics, Volusion isn’t an option if you’re serious about your marketing.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is probably more closely related to Volusion than Shopify. Taking 2% of the market, BigCommerce is a popular choice, although its drawbacks may be preventing it from making a more significant share.

USP

BigCommerce contains one of the easiest online store builders of any contemporary ecommerce store platform. It’s incredibly easy to use and looks and feels very similar to the WordPress CMS, so if you’re a bit of a newbie, then this is really an excellent option for you.

bigcommerce dashboard

Drawbacks 

Some of the templates that BigCommerce offers are so similar that you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them.

Although they do offer a selection of premium options, these can set you back anywhere between $140 – $235, and again, they’re so similar that charging so much for them, seems like a bit of a scam.

Price 

BigCommerce starts at $29.95 p/month, but this plan requires a 1.5% transaction charge, which sits on top of further credit card processing fees. So, when you stop to calculate the figures, you could end up losing money even when you are making decent sales.

Self-Hosted:

Magento

magento homepage

Magento is the second largest ecommerce platform in the world, enjoying 9% of the market share. However, in terms of merchandising revenue it is considered to be the biggest, handling over $100 billion in gross merchandise value.

USP

Magento is the perfect platform for developers who have an in-depth understanding of a websites inner workings and this is because it can take a long time to perfect the site, but the results are well worth it.

Magento has a large community following, who develop plug-ins and applications that can be designed and used within your websites.

Drawbacks

Although Magento is a particular favourite of ours here at POD, we wouldn’t recommend it to some customers for two reasons:

  • It’s quite a large and complex platform, which therefore would not be appropriate for beginners.
  • If you have a relatively small website with only a few products, then it is best to use a different platform as Magento requires a dedicated server.

WooCommerce

woocommerce home page

WooCommerce and Magento aren’t really comparable since WooCommerce is a plugin and requires WordPress to function.

WooCommerce is the most popular ecommerce platform in the world, and with its seemingly unending list of resources and adaptability, it’s easy to see why.

USP

One of the best things about WooCommerce is the fact that it’s absolutely free. It helps to make selling and running an online store as simple as possible.

Once you’ve downloaded the plugin, you’ll notice how familiar it feels. WordPress powers over 30% of the internet, (an incredible stat) so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve used it before and therefore you’ll know how easy it is to operate and navigate. 

Drawbacks 

One of the biggest complaints about WooCommerce is its inability to keep up with frequent WordPress updates which are required to keep the site compatible with browsers and mobile devices and to keep it out of reach of the malware and virus attacks.

The problem lies with the plugins, which are sometimes a lot slower than users would like to update. This can potentially put a website in a very delicate position. Especially when sales and site security is at risk.

 

So, as you can see, there is no one solution for all, it depends mostly on your specific needs. For example if you’re looking to cut costs and you’re not looking to make too many customisations then Volusion could be for you. But, if you’re looking to rely on something more advanced then Magento may be the right choice for you and your business.

There are hundreds more options to choose from, so if you need help choosing your platform, marketing it and making a success of your online business, then look no further than POD Digital. We have developed holistic plans for our clients which have been the blueprint for their success in the online world.

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