Have you been thinking of launching your new eCommerce store but have no idea where to start from? Well, let’s start with the eCommerce platform you can use!
If you are about to set up a new eCommerce business, one of the first things you will need to decide on is the eCommerce platform on which you can best build and launch your desired online store.
This may be challenging and a bit tricky, indeed. Especially if you are a new-comer to the field and have no clues whatsoever about what to look at, which platforms dominate the market or what further benefits they bring.
On the other hand, you may have heard that this is quite an easy job since everybody can launch an online store with no preliminary training? Well…, if you have read enough, we would rather add.
To explore the different eCommerce platform options, in this article we are going to take a look at some of the most popular eCommerce platforms globally. We are going to compare their benefits, highlight major beginners’ features, and take a sneak peek at what other people are choosing.
In the meantime, if you are still looking for an inspiration for your new eCommerce idea, you may browse the story behind Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. Certainly, no one in 1994 predicted that selling books online can transform you into an Internet giant, so it may be worth exploring.
If not, let’s begin.
Which are the most popular eCommerce platforms in 2020?
eCommerce has demonstrated a remarkable growth over recent years. According to an article, it already accounts for a share of 14.1% of all retail sales globally, as by 2023 this is expected to grow to 23%.
This impressive development trend is naturally facilitated by the equally fast development of the eCommerce platforms. And still, which are the platforms worth exploring?
The next figure shows the market share of the leading eCommerce platforms and technologies as of April 2020 worldwide (Statista). Maybe you can see some familiar brand names even at first glance.
Let us take a look!
Visible to the naked eye, the most widely used of all top eCommerce platforms is WooCommerce. It is employed by almost one third of all eCommerce online store owners, i.e. 28.24%, followed closely by only SquareSpace.
Developed especially for WordPress, WooCommerce is a free open-source plug-in that can serve almost any purpose. It may for sure be your number one choice as well provided that it suits your needs. And we will come back to this later.
Of all top three trustworthy eCommerce platforms, the next one which comes to sight is Shopify. It offers fully completed hosted online store solutions, and it is well-renowned for the full support it assures to the whole eCommerce business you may wish to develop.
In order to see in better detail how these trustworthy eCommerce platforms compare and differ, we suggest narrowing down our initial search to WooCommerce and Shopify only. This is what accounts for almost 40% of the eCommerce market, meaning that our eCommerce insights will hold good in most of the cases.
Which platform for which business?
It is obvious that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution to all online stores. Depending on what your online store concept requires, the different platforms can have their strengths and weaknesses.
So do your research before you make your decisions on a platform.
The leaders at a glance
Shopify is always recommended for people who are new to eCommerce and who are launching an online store project for the first time.
Тhe platform is famous for being really user-friendly, letting you build an online store with only a couple of clicks. Probably this is a little bit overdone if you need a really rich, integrated and multi-functional eCommerce store.
Nevertheless, it is true that it does not impose such a steep learning curve as does WooCommerce for example.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is considered to be best suited to users who are already using WordPress. Generally speaking, it is much more developer’s oriented. There are many other differences with Shopify of course, but we will discuss them later.
All in all, the points above may be a good starting point for your platform research. However, these are not the only considerations to take into account when choosing a trustworthy eCommerce platform. The next section goes in further detail.
Which eCommerce platform features to research before choosing?
Although it is a commonplace truth that the “Devil is in the details”, there are a couple of really important basic features that we need to check before selecting our trustworthy eCommerce platform. These are meant to guarantee that we will be able to offer a first-class customer service at minimum effort and with ensured technical support.
Basic prerequisites for choosing a trustworthy eCommerce platform
Above all, make sure that the eCommerce platform you are considering allows stable grounds for your online shop to develop. Ensure that it also offers a content management system (CMS). Both of these are key for today’s platforms and can save you a lot of trouble.
Then, think about whether you would be better off with a hosted solution (e.g. Shopify), or you need to buy hosting yourself (e.g. WooCommerce). At certain point you may think about whether you need full control over your system (e.g. WooCommerce) or leave this part to the platform itself (e.g. Shopify).
Finally, compare prices and pricing. Shopify for example comes with straightforward subscription packages. In the case of the free WooCommerce however, you will need to calculate the price yourself by choosing a hosting plan, domain name, theme, plug-ins, extensions, etc.
Should you find it difficult to budget, you may always get in touch with our team for further guidance. We are here at your disposal to help you achieve both the best eCommerce model for your business, and your dream online store itself. We offer custom services for both Shopify and WooCommerce, as you can see samples of our projects here.
5 must-have features when choosing an eCommerce platform
Here is a non-exhausting list of a few other vital features which you have to keep in mind when selecting a trustworthy eCommerce platform:
- Ensure smooth and secure payment options
No matter what your eCommerce idea, you will ultimately need to charge customers for their purchase. That is why, you need a payment gateway to securely connect your customer’s bank accounts with your own account.
This gateway should also support your local currency. As not all payment gateways are compatible with every eCommerce platform, you need to make sure that the one you have chosen is included in either the core online store platform, or it may be linked to it via extension/ add-on. If it is not, it may be really burdensome and expensive.
- Check the professional design options
Design is everything, they say. You need to ensure that the platform you select offers the design options that you need but bear in mind that platform themes may be customized to meet your needs. Some platforms offer a few themes, whereas others offer thousands of themes. Nevertheless, there may be differences in their professional quality.
- Guarantee your website security to process payments
The security of your website is of supreme importance as it is going to be collecting payments. It is good that you introduce yourself to the concept of PCI compliance and the need for a SSL certificate beforehand. The PCI Security Standards are a set of standards applicable to all websites that collect and store payment information. The SSL certificate on the other hand secures credit card transactions, log-ins, etc. Your eCommerce platform may offer a free SSL certificate if it is a hosted version.
- Make sure you can expand content with ease
You may have already heard the phrase that “Content is a King”. And indeed, content plays a central role in the way your site appears in search rankings. It influences the customer’s decision to buy, which impacts your online conversion. That is why, it is also vital that your eCommerce platform allows you to easily build content to new and existing pages.
- Research the options for online support
Before making your decision on a platform, you can familiarize yourself with the online support options it offers. Online support may be a decisive factor if you decide to work on your own. Alternatively, you may always hire an eCommerce agency or a professional to lend a helping hand. Research prices and compare.
No matter that finding the best eCommerce platform is not an easy job, you may always migrate from one platform to another. Please see a thematic guide of ours on the topic of how to migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce here.
Starting an online shop requires that you research the options of the top eCommerce platforms. WooCommerce and Shopify are among the world leaders in the trustworthy eCommerce platforms.
Before making your choice of a platform consider the control over the system that you will have, whether you can grow and the final price. Do check the five crucial factors: available payment, design and security options, content development and online support.
Have you already started your searching for a platform? Do you have other doubts concerning WooCommerce or Shopify?
Finding the best eCommerce platform may be challenging, so you are more than welcome to contact us for further advice.