What is an eCommerce platform?
An eCommerce platform is a software that helps create an online store, enabling purchasing and selling over the internet. A content management system (CMS) manages product catalogs, transactions, order fulfillment, and user relationships with online merchants.
With customers increasingly shopping online, having an online store is important. Whether you are a large or small business, selling tangible goods or providing services, you need to meet your customers in the right place to increase your sales.
What are the different types of eCommerce platforms?
There are three types of eCommerce platforms:
An open-source ecommerce platform allows you to completely modify and control everything. Therefore, it is the best option for businesses that require high customisation and has an internal team to tweak the website to their preference.
Software as a service (SaaS):
SaaS ecommerce platforms are the best option for businesses that require an easy and quick website. You don’t have to build or maintain a website from scratch. The ecommerce platform from a provider takes care of everything in exchange for a monthly fee. Some of them also allow a level of flexibility and modification.
Headless or Content as a service (CaaS):
A headless platform organises and distributes content as a service (CaaS). Headless platforms decouple the shopping cart from the CMS completely. This offers several benefits such as platform flexibility and use of APIs to set up a separate SaaS shopping cart.
How to choose the right eCommerce platform?
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business:
Initial setup costs:
Considering the initial up-front costs of using the platform to set up a store would be best. For example, a brand-new eCommerce website will unlikely get significant sales for a certain period. In that case, you don’t want to pay high fees for months with low sales volume. Therefore, platforms that allow transaction-based fees, free trials, and other low-pricing structures are best.
For an established business moving online, platforms with flat fees, such as Shopify, are an option to consider. Either way, always weigh different options before choosing an eCommerce platform.
Ongoing monthly costs:
Once you determine the initial setup costs, calculate how much the monthly cost would be to keep using the platform. Platforms like WooCommerce have a standard version with no monthly fees. For such platforms, you need to consider the web hosting fee, which usually costs at least $5-15 per month.
Whereas platforms like Shopify charge between £19 – £259 per month, including web hosting and the cost of having an online store on the platform.
Ease of use:
Depending on whether you are hiring a web developer or opting for the DIY approach, you need to decide how difficult it is to set up an eCommerce store on the platform.
And even if you hire a web developer to build the website, you need to consider how complex software to use for day-to-day operations. You need to choose a platform that allows you to use tools to save time and focus on building your businesses.
How customized do you want your site to be? Is the platform flexible enough to do so? WordPress is known for its flexibility with ready-made templates allowing you to customize your eCommerce website fully.
Decide how many customizations you need and if the platform can accommodate them. If it does allow customization, find out how difficult it is to implement it. Then, speak to a developer to check if you can add an extra plugin for it or does it involve coding.
You need to choose a platform that easily integrates with other platforms for creating blog posts, sharing content on social media, or linking to other services. WooCommerce is a winner in this category for its seamless integration with other WordPress plugins.
Add-Ons and Extra Plugins:
Adding extensions is the best way to add extra features and niche functionalities to your eCommerce website. Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer an extensive library of third-party plugins. However, SEO consultants prefer WordPress for the rich list of SEO plugins available and the ease of ranking these websites.
As more people shop from mobile, creating responsive and mobile-friendly websites is important. Use free trials to test various platforms and see how your products look on different devices. Along with having a responsive storefront, it’s also important to manage your site from a mobile device. eCommerce platforms with mobile apps to easily manage your products and transactions are best.
Depending on sales volume, domestic or international transactions, and other factors, you are charged a small fee for every transaction through these gateways.
eCommerce website design is an important factor for an online store. The right design is the key to attracting and converting new customers. Thus, it’s important to pick a platform that offers you the best themes and customize them based on your branding.
Now it’s time to consider how easy it will be to move your eCommerce website elsewhere if you decide to leave the platform. What will you be able to migrate – design, content, images?
Open-source platforms like WordPress allow you to export everything easily. Whereas sites created on Wix only work if hosted on Wix servers and don’t allow you to export your site.
What are the best eCommerce platforms in 2022?
The top 5 eCommerce platforms in 2022 are:
- Shopify – a SaaS eCommerce platform that is the best platform for eCommerce brands to start with. Due to its ease of use and lower pricing.
- WooCommerce – an open-source, self-hosted eCommerce tool powered by WordPress. It allows maximum flexibility if you know what you are doing or have an internal DevOps team.
- BigCommerce – a SaaS eCommerce platform better suited for more advanced users who want multi-channel selling or headless commerce.
- Wix – a SaaS website builder that offers eCommerce features. It’s a good option for people who want to add an eCommerce store as just part of a site and not for a complete eCommerce store.
Squarespace – Similar to Wix, but with more creative options. If you sell products on Etsy, Squarespace is the perfect fit for you.