Even though the traditional brick and mortar retail business still carries 94% of all retail sales in the US, the ongoing transition to online retail stores is very strong, and cannot be ignored. More and more people are preferring the ease and convenience of online shopping, and this has seen most retail stores establish an online eCommerce presence to remain relevant.
The fact that you are here means that you are most probably, also considering going the same route, and have come to the million-dollar question that stops everyone in their tracks – at least momentarily: which eCommerce platform should I use? Which one is best for my needs?
To help you make a sound decision, we have compiled top best e-commerce platforms. In the end, we hope this article will help you choose the best one for one.
What is an eCommerce Platform and Why Do You Need One?
Before jumping into the different types of eCommerce platforms available and what they can do for you, let us first explain what an ‘eCommerce platform’ is.
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In the most basic form, an eCommerce online platform is software that lets you build, run, and manage an online store or business. It provides the necessary tools for creating your product catalog and managing other day-to-day operations.
There are many reasons why people choose to get an eCommerce platform, but the leading reason is that they want to create an online presence for their market and capture a wider audience. Other reasons that make them worth the investment are:
- They are very easy to use. Several years ago, if you wanted an online store, the only option available was to build one from the ground up. A while later, shopping carts came in and made things easier, but you still needed a developer to incorporate them into your website. With eCommerce platforms, things are so much easier, you can develop a whole online store without any developer experience.
- Very cheap to create and operate. Online stores are the most cost-effective when it comes to creation and operational costs. Some eCommerce platforms are even available free of charge, meaning you only need to pay a small fee to keep the shop running.
- Ideal for just about anything. Using an online eCommerce platform frees your hands from most of the work of running or managing your site. You can therefore concentrate on growing your business, and you can sell just about anything under the sun.
- Round the clock customer service. Most platforms provide 24/7 customer support in case something goes wrong with your site. You are therefore sure that whatever happens, your customers will never come to an error page – at least not for any extended period of time.
Top 5 eCommerce Platforms for an Online Store
This is a Canadian eCommerce platform founded in 2004 with a focus on mobile shopping and trending social commerce. It is one of the most loved platforms by millions of businesses, and has powerful addons that let your customers shop right from their social media platforms. If your target market spends a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook and twitter, you will love the functionalities Shopify puts on the table.
- You can integrate your shop with your social media accounts
- It is one of the most feature-rich eCommerce platforms available
- You are liable of paying a transaction fee if you do not use Shopify payment.
- Many of the most useful extensions are paid for extensions.
- Any customizations attract an incremental price.
BigCommerce has proven to be a platform worth watching out for. The company has made a name as one of the best in the industry, providing solutions to big names like Toyota and Martha Steward, not counting the 55,000+ businesses and SMEs that use their platform. It is excellent or people with no programming skills, thanks to the powerful built-in features.
- Features very handy tools and features for managing your store
- Has flexible shipping options, and even lets you give live quotes
- Integrates with Amazon, eBay, and most social network websites
- Only provide 7 free themes, so you’ll have to invest in one for a professional look
- Has no native POS feature like other platforms do
- Multi-vendor support is still wanting
Magneto is an open source platform for eCommerce stores that has also been dubbed the WordPress of eCommerce stores. It offers a cloud hosting, but you can also download it and install it to your servers if you want complete control. This gives it great reliability and scalability, making it one of the best eCommerce platforms available. It is the platform of choice for some big names like Huawei, Burger King, Liverpool F.C, and Pepe Jeans.
- The self-hosted option gives you total control over what you can do
- Packs a long list of features that will make your work absolutely easy
- There are multiple plugins and themes available to further extend its functionality
- You will require some technical know-how to get the most out of the platform
- The basic version is free but the enterprise version will set you back $20,000+ annually.
This is the best platform for eCommerce startups and SMBs. It features multiple solutions for everyday business management and even lets your create multi-vendor stores with Amazon, eBay, or Etsy (which is actually one of their strongest areas). You also get features like multi-lingual and multi-currency support that allow you to reach an even bigger audience, and built-in features that throw the stress of business right out the window.
- Targets SMBs so already has features for them built-in
- Packed full of features that will help you get everything going fast
- A lifetime license gets the source code. You can therefore make modifications if desired
- Customization will require help from someone with knowledge of PHP
- Big enterprises will be required to do extensive customizations
If you are a fashion designer or DIYer, tictail is designed with you in mind. It is more focused on making custom design easy and possible, for the most attractive layout possible. It made for easy usability and also allows community integrations too. Setting up your store on this platform will only take a few minutes.
- Very easy to set up
- Designed to make customizations stress free
- Lacks payment processors
The Bottom Line
Settling on the best platform is not an easy task, but it is not rocket science either. We will make our best effort to help you choose, but you also need to keep in mind that your choice will have a very big impact of your business’ online presence, so make sure to think through what you really need before settling on a platform to use.
It doesn’t matter if you run a Catholic faith store or a Jewelry store; you will need to work with the best platform to get your return on investment.