Online businesses and shopping have grown exponentially over the last decade. But despite the industry's growth, a survey in 2019 showed that 59% of Australian companies believed they did not need an online presence.
Since the dawn of the virus that shall not be named, we’ve seen this belief turned on its head, as businesses scrambled to establish an online footprint. And while many industries and organisations have suffered, eCommerce has proven to be the lifeline that businesses have used to survive.
Companies with online storefronts have reaped the benefits, while those without have had to play catch-up, frantically attempting to connect with consumers. Many businesses have found the strategic shift to eCommerce platforms to be a challenging transition. However, the brands that have fared best have taken advantage of this opportunity to maximise their returns through alternate sales channels.
But if you’re wondering, “which eCommerce platform should I use?”, you’re not alone. Choosing the right eCommerce platform can be a daunting task. There’s a lot to consider. That’s why we’ve prepared this handy guide. We’ve compared the top eCommerce options on the market to help you find the best fit for your business.
Getting your store online is important, but it shouldn’t be rushed. Selecting and setting up an eCommerce platform can be difficult, and once set up, adjusting to the eCommerce platform takes time. You can't just flip a switch and go straight in with no glitches or roadblocks. It's a learning process.
But while it might take some time to get it right, understanding important success factors before diving into the world of eCommerce is fundamental.
Here are the top factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform:
When looking for an eCommerce platform, the first factor you should consider is the pricing. A second consideration then becomes the platform's fit within your budget. Whether you're a new small business or an established brick-and-mortar company going online, you need to know where you spend every dollar.
Almost every platform charges a monthly subscription fee, depending on whether the site is self-hosted or hosted. You’ll also need to factor in upfront development fees. While some open source platforms are free to use, they’ll typically cost you far more in initial setup than out-of-the-box platforms that are easier to use but charge a subscription fee.
Another point where pricing is concerned is the ongoing maintenance factor. Consider that every update you make to your site will require time and resources.
For instance, you'll need a skilled developer to make changes on Magento. Whereas Shopify is built with the merchant in mind - once the site has been built, merchants are able to easily make changes themselves.
The ability for your store to rank well in search results is important. Good SEO drives higher volumes of traffic towards your store, provides quality leads, and guides your business towards profitability.
If SEO is important to your brand (and it should be), then you’ll likely need an eCommerce platform that is well-built from a technical perspective (think fast page load times and a good user experience) and can host blogs and other high-value content.
Mobile devices account for almost 60% of all the traffic on the internet, so it’s important that your store allows visitors to quickly and easily browse your website and make purchases on their mobile devices.
Your eCommerce platform must have an easy-to-use user interface that allows for seamless navigation, product selection, and checkout. Nothing will turn potential customers away faster than a clunky mobile site.
No one wants to submit their credit card information to a suspicious website, which is why security is becoming one of the consumer's primary concerns.
While most software nowadays comes with relatively strong security measures as a standard, your eCommerce platform must support HTTPS/SSL for a safe and secure checkout. It's also critical to check if the eCommerce platform you're using is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, to improve security.
When evaluating eCommerce platforms, you should also check their interfaces and plugins.
Consider what tools you'll need or currently use for your business while looking at the different platforms. Here are some of the most common sorts of plugins to look out for:
To help you make the right decision for your business, we’ve evaluated 4 of the best eCommerce platforms on the market, weighing up performance statistics, features, and the overall financial value of the different systems.
We've also included key pros and cons for each platform so you can make the best decision for your brand.
Full disclosure: we’re a Shopify partner and Shopify implementation expert. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you’re looking for a robust eCommerce platform to use as your one-stop shop for listing, marketing, selling, and interacting with your target audience, Shopify is your solution.
Shopify is a stand-alone eCommerce platform that does not require you to host your site elsewhere. It is a cloud-based software that runs on a monthly subscription model and allows small business owners access to an admin panel to enter business data, add items, and process orders. The software is simple to use and has a short learning curve, so you can quickly have your online store up and running.
While Shopify's design is best suited to small to medium-sized businesses, Shopify Plus is a better choice for eCommerce at an enterprise level, especially if you have a larger business that’s likely to have a higher online sales volume and a broader product listing.
Shopify Plus promises a versatile, quick-to-launch, and scalable platform that can provide larger companies with the foundation they need to grow bigger and quicker.
BigCommerce estimates that it has helped merchants grow an average of 28% per year, double the rate of other eCommerce platforms.
BigCommerce is SEO-friendly, has affordable pricing, and allows customers to have an infinite number of products, staff accounts, and bandwidth. However, unlike other platforms, it doesn’t provide a library of free themes.
WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce plugin designed for WordPress. You can add the plugin to any Wordpress website to implement eCommerce functions like secure payments and shipping options.
As an open-source software, WooCommerce offers complete customisation and control, and is a free plugin when you’re already subscribed to WordPress.
Because of WordPress’s complexity, WooCommerce may not feel as intuitive and user-friendly as other options at first, especially if you haven’t had much previous experience with WordPress. However, it’s power lies in how customisable it is, meaning it’s easy to scale as your business grows. It’s suitable for small, medium, and large businesses.
Magento is the eCommerce platform of choice for many Fortune 500 companies due to its outstanding responsiveness and scalability.
Magneto's open-source code allows for extensive customisation, which is great if you have the capability to take advantage of it. Users can choose from a selection of pre-designed, mobile-optimised templates, while developers can create powerful custom themes and tweak or add to the available themes.
On the flip side, if your business doesn’t have web development capability, you may find Magento a little too complex for your needs.
All businesses have different needs when it comes to choosing the right eCommerce platform. We know it’s a big decision to make, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of all the things you should consider when making this all-important choice.
If you need support finding the right solution for your business, get in touch with our eCommerce experts. Through a process of business immersion, discovery and workshopping, we can help you find an eCommerce technology that best aligns with the needs of your business.
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