If you’re starting an ecommerce website, there’s a lot of different platforms to choose from.
You can use an open-source platform which means you host the website on your own server, or you can use a paid solution, which means a company will host your website for you. Let’s look at some of the most popular ecommerce platforms available today in no particular order:
Shopify is a Canadian-based ecommerce solution, which has been helping online businesses across the globe with a focus on the trending social commerce and mobile shopping. Founded in 2004, Shopify is a hosted solution which has kept up with the speed of developing ecommerce trends and technologies. Ecommerce entrepreneurs who need a conventional solution can benefit from Shopify. It is easy to use and can help you launch your business quickly. Based on your requirements and your budget, you can choose from a range of Shopify packages.
WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, which is used by millions of businesses throughout the world. As standard the plugin comes with a secure payment gateway and a shopping cart that both work well for most industries. WooCommerce is open source and easy to use for WordPress enthusiasts.
Installing WooCommerce is free but it suffers with a lack of scalability; as your business grows and you get more products and customers on your database, WooCommerce starts slowing down. It’s generally fine for small to medium businesses, but for a high-volume store it typically doesn’t perform as well.
Magento was originally released in March 2008, it’s an open source ecommerce website platform. Its reliability and scalability have made it one of the most popular ecommerce platforms available. For higher level online stores with a huge volume of products, Magento is the right choice. Not recommended for small to medium size businesses due to its complex store setup, on-going costs and highly technical requirements.
PrestaShop is an open source ecommerce platform that has more than one million users. Like WooCommerce there is no cost to use the basic version of software. However, you’ll need to setup the store yourself, at a minimum, you’ll need to sort out web hosting and get your own payment gateway.
Prestashop is powerful for a wide range of companies and can be great for small and medium size businesses. If you’re looking for a cheap, but powerful Ecommerce platform, then PrestaShop could be an option to consider. Just keep in mind that additional support and many add-ons are not free.
OpenCart is known as one of the top-end solutions that combines flexibility, simplicity and multi-functionality. OpenCart is an open source platform which started in 1998, as of 2016 it had over 300,000 stores using the software, as it’s open source this means you need to host the website on your own hosting account. The platform is straightforward set up and was developed with users in mind. Not only tech savvy store owners, but even non-advanced merchants can easily create a shop.
Equally, site speed is one of the key points that affects customer’s shopping experience. OpenCart shopping cart is lightweight e-Commerce solution that uses AJAX technology in order to reduce load time and thus increase store speed. OpenCart is a platform which is also well known for its high level of functionality. There is wide range of in-box features. Furthermore, shop owners can expand their store possibilities with the help of over 7,000 extensions.
BigCommerce offers a range of solutions for businesses looking to build on online shop. As a hosted solution they offer a design platform lets you create stores that engage shoppers and make more sales. You can choose from responsive ecommerce templates on the market or build a fully custom site. Equally they also claim that BigCommerce merchants benefit from industry-leading performance and stability, including an average uptime of more than 99.99% and sites that load fast for maximum conversion.
Etsy describes itself as the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Their focus is selling handmade items, vintage goods and craft supplies. Selling on Etsy is someplace in-between setting up your own Ecommerce site and selling directly on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. With Etsy you have your own dedicated shop where you get access to their 29 million buyers from around the world. There are no monthly fees to sell on Etsy, but there are listing fees, transaction fees and payment processing fees.
Wix is a drag-and-drop website builder, it’s a hosted solution which you can use to create an online store. With over 100 million users worldwide, Wix has been a popular choice for businesses throughout the world. As of 2018, it’s not a specialised ecommerce platform, it doesn’t have the same range of features as Shopify for example, however it’s certainly enough to get you started. The pros of Wix include a great selection of themes to choose from, wix does not take commission from your sales, multiple payment options to choose from, large range of apps and you can get started for free.
Squarespace is a cloud hosted website builder. And is like Wix, it is one of the most popular options for building any type of website online. They also offer an Ecommerce platform allowing you to set-up an online store. They do not offer a free plan (although they do offer a free trial). They also offer fewer payment options. However, you can sell unlimited products, they site is mobile friendly and they offer 24/7 support.
As you can see there’s a lot of different options to consider, typically you’ll need to decide whether you want to host your website on your own server or use a company which hosts the website for you.
If you want a fully hosted website then Shopify is certainly one of the market leaders, if you’re looking to host your website yourself, then WooCommerce, OpenCart, Prestashop and Magento are popular in the open-source market.