As any experienced e-retailer knows, choosing the right e-commerce solution can mean the difference between lasting success and outright failure. Of the five biggest e-commerce platforms today, no single one offers a one-size-fits-all solution – what works smoothly for one retailer may be impossibly challenging for another.
This year’s comparison keeps this mind while showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of each so that you can make the right choice when setting up your e-commerce shop. The five best e-commerce platforms at the moment are:
Each one is a leader in its particular field. We dive into exactly what each one does best below.
Shopify: User-Friendly, Great Customer Support
Shopify is one of the biggest names in e-commerce. As a hosted solution, Shopify takes care of the coding and implementation of your e-commerce shop – making it an incredibly user friendly option for non-tech types.
At the same time, it is a very flexible platform that allows users (or the developers they hire) to use HTML and CSS to code their sites if they so desire. This gives it an ideal balance between serving newcomers to the world of e-commerce while being sufficiently advanced to handle the needs of industry veterans.
Overall, it’s a winning strategy – Shopify serves more than 300,000 online businesses worldwide and continues to grow at an impressive rate. Its excellent SEO features and industry-leading customer support earned it a 98/100 score with ecommerce-platforms.com.
The primary drawback to Shopify is that it is not necessarily cost-effective for some retailers. Newcomers get a 14-day free trial and then pay between $29 and $299 per month to use the platform. Additionally, Shopify charges a small percentage fee (between 0.5% and 2%) for using external payment gateways like PayPal, which can bite into the profits of e-commerce retailers with low margins and high turnover.
Magento: Powerful Customization and SEO Benefits
This open-source e-commerce solution is the most flexible of the major names appearing on this list. Magento is ideal for tech-savvy e-commerce retailers who wish to create online store capabilities difficult or impossible to produce with other platforms.
Because Magento is designed for customization, it is not nearly as user-friendly as most other e-commerce platforms. Even seasoned programmers need some time to get used to the Magento interface – but once they do, there is literally no boundary to the creative possibilities it offers.
Magento’s design offers the absolute best SEO capabilities among e-commerce stores, but it is up to you (or a professional developer) to configure your site to make use of those capabilities.
Small businesses that wish to use Magento may do so for free using Magento CE (Community Edition). This is a barebones version of the platform which you’ll need to add paid plug-ins to in order to use. Enterprise-level Magento solutions can run anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, making this a serious investment.
For implementation, contact JD Softtech, a Boston-based web design agency that offers extraordinary value for e-commerce solutions large and small. Ask about integrating Segmentify, which lets Magento users make personalized product recommendations to users.
3. WooCommerce: Excellent WordPress Integration
Looking at the numbers, WooCommerce is the world’s most popular e-commerce and shopping cart system – 766,000 individual domains use it, according to SimilarTech.
The primary benefit of WooCommerce is its ease of integration with WordPress, which is the Internet’s most popular content management system. If you are looking for a solution that has been tried and tested among the greatest variety of uses and systems, the WordPress/WooCommerce combination is hard to beat.
As an open-source platform, WooCommerce is highly flexible but limited when it comes to customer support. Thankfully, its popularity means that you will find ample resources for diagnosing and resolving issues when they occur.
Because WooCommerce is a plug-in – not a standalone e-commerce platform – you need to have some familiarity with WordPress to use it. The benefit, however, is that it is free for WordPress users and offers complete functionality with the enormous range of WordPress themes available online.
Studio Envato can help you integrate WooCommerce into your website. Simply browse through the available developers and pick the one that serves your needs best.
4. BigCommerce: Built-In Marketing and Multi-Channel Integration
BigCommerce stands on its own among e-commerce solutions because it offers multi-channel integration and built-in marketing tools. That means that retailers who wish to sell items on Ebay, Facebook, Google Shopping, and their own domain all at the same time can do so using a single, integrated interface.
This gives it a huge boost in usefulness for enterprise businesses that absolutely need to be present on multiple websites in order to produce brand awareness and drive conversions. Most enterprise-level users find that BigCommerce’s catalog management tool is the best-suited to handling this demanding work.
BigCommerce is also useful for small businesses – BigCommerce Standard costs only $29.95 per month and remains operable until you reach more than $50,000 in sales per year. The Standard version of the platform includes a broad range of useful tools, including payment gateways, social selling tools, and a website builder out-of-the-box.
If you’re looking for BigCommerce integration services, check out Stitch Labs. The company implements its own multi-channel management tools for use with the platform.
5. PrestaShop: Customized Front-End, Organized Back-End
It’s best to think of PrestaShop as a best-of-both-worlds solution matching the simplicity of Shopify with the power and flexibility of Magento. Using PrestaShop, merchants can design a completely customized front-end in only a few minutes while the system’s architecture take care of the messiest parts of back-end development.
Unlike Shopify, PrestaShop does not charge licensing fees or take a percentage of your revenue. This can make it very attractive to newcomers and experienced e-retailers alike. Instead, PrestaShop uses a freemium business model – the platform is free to use and download, while modules and templates come at a price. You’ll have to buy some modules to get a working, professional store in order, but you can pick and choose between them.
The main drawback to PrestaShop is that it charges users for customer support. Actually enjoying professional tech support will cost a minimum of $33 per month. To compensate, it does offer comprehensive tutorial and training services for newcomers.
For PrestaShop integration services, contact Silbersaiten, a German agency with more than 50 finished projects under its belt.