Ecommerce is a booming industry and shows no signs of slowing down. As the high street continues to face the brunt of changing consumer shopping habits, the eCommerce world is feeling the positive effects as more and more customers are opting to do their shopping online.
With more customers choosing to shop on their phones and computers, there is a real opportunity for businesses to engage with their target market and take market share from high street retailers. This shift in buyer behaviour means that now is a great time to set up an eCommerce business, and with so many different platforms out there it is easy to do.
Despite this great opportunity, knowing where to start can be a bit of a daunting task. Yes, there are plenty of platforms to choose from, but which one is the right one? What if you ship internationally and need to work in multiple currencies, or sell exclusively through Instagram and need a platform that can integrate with this? Maybe you already sell via one channel and are looking to expand with another eCommerce platform.
In a previous Khaos Control Cloud blog we reviewed the top five eCommerce platforms. In this blog we want to take this a step further by breaking down each eCommerce platform and looking at their advantages and disadvantages, so you can clearly see which platform would be best for your business. Each eCommerce platform offers its own unique benefits and drawbacks, it is important to choose a solution which suits the size of your business and the sector in which it operates.
Before we get in to detail, let’s recap the top 5 eCommerce platforms
5. Big Commerce
Magento is a purpose built, open source eCommerce platform. Developed by Varien, it is a flexible and customisable platform with a huge community of users, developers and product marketers. Magento is highly scalable and as such has been favoured by larger businesses.
Magento Community edition is free for users to download, meaning no upfront cost is needed to start your eCommerce store, though you will have to pay an external company to host your site.
Magento is an open source platform with a huge community of developers, meaning practically all aspects of the eCommerce platform can be customised. There are currently over 5000 apps and add ons that allow you to tailor your Magento site to your specific requirements. As Magento is open source it means you can easily integrate your stock control or order management software, which means your stock levels will always be accurate and no customers will be disappointed.
Magento also offers powerful SEO tools which will help drive traffic towards your online store and improve your overall web ranking. This can be particularly valuable for newer businesses that are trying to build a reputation and need their products as visible on the web as possible.
Magento requires you to provide your own hosting as well as install, setup and configuration, whereas other eCommerce platforms will provide this for you. Some reviewers have commented Magento is not the simplest platform to setup initially.
Although Magento has a very professional look and feel to it, it can be quite difficult to customise. Magento doesn’t have the most user-friendly layout available and this can prove difficult to navigate for those who are not used to the layout.
Shopify is another eCommerce platform which is widely acclaimed and has a large user base. Unlike Magento, Shopify is a SaaS (software as a service) and offers different packages at varying monthly prices. This provides users varying degrees of functionality depending on which subscription they are paying for. Although Shopify isn’t free like Magento, the all-in-one nature of the product makes it a great choice for businesses just starting out.
As Shopify is a SaaS, hosting is provided by Shopify itself whereas Magento requires you to use a third-party service. Good hosting is crucial for an online store as this will have an impact on site speed and loading times, which ultimately impacts a sites SEO ranking and visibility.
Shopify supports most major payment gateways, which can be particularly useful when operating in different currencies and shipping internationally.
Much like Magento, Shopify offers powerful SEO tools that are going to drive more traffic to your site through organic traffic and search engines.
Shopify, unlike Magento, charges a transaction fee for any payment made through external payment sites such as Paypal, meaning Shopify takes a cut of each online transaction made using these gateways.
A lot of Shopify’s more advanced features are only available on the higher tier packages which cost more money. For a business just starting up this could mean a significant initial cost which can ultimately have an impact on your business’s bottom line.
A platform that needs no introduction, Amazon is the top dog of eCommerce and as such it is a place where many online sellers get their start in the eCommerce world. Amazon’s huge customer base, recognisable brand and efficiency make it a great platform to sell on, however it is not without its drawbacks.
In terms of sheer simplicity for setting up, Amazon takes the gold. Setting up a seller account takes minutes and means anyone can start selling their goods right away. Being the top dog of eCommerce also means they have a large market share, for sellers this means a potential audience that can browse their products which ultimately translates into high sales.
Online marketplaces are currently the preferred online outlet for many consumers. People are attracted to the idea of so many items being in one place and being able to purchase these items with ease, as such, it means for sellers that Amazon continues to be a great place to sell goods.
The main disadvantage of selling on Amazon is that you aren’t generating any of your own customers. When you sell a product via Amazon, that customer is Amazon’s customer, not your own. Anyone selling on Amazon should ideally be looking to drive traffic to their own site and turning these customers into their own.
Selling on marketplaces can also mean it’s difficult to keep track of your inventory, particularly if you sell across multiple channels. Item’s listed on Amazon won’t update if you sell them on a Magento site or through your WordPress site and WooCommerce plugin. This could mean that customers try to buy an item on Amazon but find it is out of stock, frustrating the customer and also impacting on your seller rating.
WooCommerce is an open source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. WooCommerce is aimed at retailers just starting out. Anyone who has a WordPress website can simply download this plugin to begin selling stock from their website, rather than having to migrate all their stock information to another website.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress, therefore it is incredibly easy to install onto your existing WordPress website to allow you to begin selling your products right away. WooCommerce can also integrate with most eCommerce platforms on the market making it incredibly versatile. Combining WooCommerce with powerful stock management software such as Khaos Control Cloud would create a formidable eCommerce force to help you with your business.
Unlike hosted solutions such as Shopify, WooCommerce is completely free to download and install, this makes it great for people that are new to eCommerce or want to get started but lack a lot of initial start-up capital.
Another advantage to the fact that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin is that there is a multitude of different themes available, both free and paid, to allow you to customise your online store.
As WooCommerce is a plugin rather than a hosted solution such as Shopify, users would have to find a third party to host their website. This is less of an issue if you already have a WordPress site as it is likely you would already have a web host.
While i've spoken about how WooCommerce being a WordPress plugin can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage for this platform as you need a WordPress site. If your website is built on any other platform then WooCommerce would not be available to you.
BigCommerce is another hosted SaaS eCommerce platform. This means that unlike WooCommerce you do not need a WordPress website to get started, and that you don't need to outsource your web hosting to a third party. BigCommerce has proven to be a real favourite among online retailers due to its ease of use.
While BigCommerce is not free like WooCommerce, the low cost of buying BigCommerce’s standard plan makes it an attractive platform for retailers just starting out. For those considering the long term and growing their business, BigCommerce can be a very cost-effective solution.
BigCommerce sites are also incredibly easy to set up due to their template-based structure. With eCommerce sites, as with most things in life, time is of the essence, and the quicker a site can go live, the quicker you can start selling products and making money.
One rather big disadvantage of BigCommerce is that it limits the number of annual sales you can make depending on which plan you have selected. This is a shrewd business decision on their part as it effectively forces users to upgrade their BigCommerce plan if they exceed this annual sales limit. The thinking behind this is presumably that if your business is turning over so much revenue a year you should be able to afford the next plan up, though this could still be a point of contention.
Compared with other eCommerce solutions, BigCommerce lacks somewhat on the customisation front. The platform only comes with a handful of free themes to choose from, therefore additional ones must be purchased. As well as this, BigCommerce’s theme editor is not as intuitive as some other eCommerce platforms that are available.
There you have it, the pros and cons to 5 of the top eCommerce platforms available on the market today. This blog is intended to a be a guide as, ultimately, the only person that can decide which platform is the right one is you. Hopefully this blog has provided some key information on the different features and functions of each of these top 5 eCommerce platforms which will help you choose the right platform for you.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform is a very important decision for a business and can be the difference between a successful business and one that is doomed to failure. You must consider your short-term plans as well as your long-term goals and choose the solution that suits you best. Pick the solution that fits your budget and has the functionality that you need for your business and then consider what the long-term plans are for the business. Can your eCommerce platform accommodate for future growth?
Thankfully, whichever eCommerce platform you choose, Khaos Control Cloud integrates which each one of these. This means you can sleep safe in the knowledge that you have a powerful stock control software integrating seamlessly with your chosen eCommerce platform, meaning you will always have accurate stock levels and your customers will never order an out of stock item again.
To find out more, book your free demo of Khaos Control Cloud today.