TOP E–COMMERCE PLATFORMS
Are you planning to open an online store? The prosperity and success of your business are hinged on the performance and flexibility of the shopping cart you select. For this reason, picking the right e-commerce platform is an integral part of the puzzle and a significant aspect of any entrepreneur’s journey.
E-commerce platforms are evolving and finding one with the definitive features can be a daunting task. In addition, because of the plethora of e-commerce software, it’s really difficult to make a decision on which platform suits your website development needs best. And that is where Aretosystems comes in.
We have compiled this article to relieve you of the burden of choice. We have consulted experts to write a piece that will impart insightful information and acquaint you with the e-commerce platforms. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced entrepreneur, we got you covered.
TYPES OF ECOMMERCE PLATFORM
One critical decision when selecting an e-commerce platform is getting a type that is tailored to serve you best. An e-commerce platform can either be Open source/self-hosted or hosted/cloud, each of this bracket provides a unique set of features and benefits. Do you know the type that suits your business needs best? Here is the lowdown.
Open source e–commerce platform
An open source e-commerce platform is a variety that requires a compatible hosting to operate. This type of platforms provides developers with full access to source codes and can be set anywhere (they give you the freedom to choose your ideal hosting provider/service).
Some of the available options are well documented and allow you to make changes as required. They give you an unprecedented degree of control over the online store that cannot be accorded by the hosted platforms. In case you want advanced functionality you get the option to add extensions and plugins to support them. Besides, you can create them yourself or contract some to create them for you.
- Easy to customize
- Great level of ownership and control
- Lesser lock-ins
- Well-developed ecosystem
- Difficult to set up
Hosted e–commerce platforms
The second type of e-commerce platforms is the Hosted option. This type offers an all in one solution that comes with a shopping cart option, hosting, and technical support. A hosted e-commerce platform operates on provider’s servers and doesn’t provide access to codes running your site. Your service provider provides the hosting besides updating the software on your behalf. All you need is pay a fee which depends on the size of the online store, and all the convenience will be provided.
- Ease of use
- Frequent software updates
- Easy t maintain
- not flexible
- Saas specific risks
PRINCIPAL ASPECTS OF E–COMMERCE PLATFORMS
Once you have settled on the type of e-commerce that suits you best, you need to select the best solution based on some fundamental aspects. Your selection criteria is key in determining the level of success you enjoy in the saturated market. There are incredible perks in the e-commerce industry, but the best only fall to businesses that stand out.
Do you want to be unique? Just know that irrespective of the controversy surrounding the most important aspects of an e-commerce platform, there is nothing like a one size fits all platform. The needs of each business are unique, and each requires a distinctive solution. If you’re ready to fly high, consider the following factors before settling for any platform.
#1. SEO friendliness
How SEO-friendly is your ideal e-commerce platform? A highly SEO friendly platform makes it easier for your store to rank higher in the search results. This allows potential customers to easily find you when they are searching for products similar to yours. This translates to more sales and great profitability for your business.
An SEO friendly e-commerce platform should;
- Allows you to add a blog to your site
- Allow your customer to leave product reviews
- Allow you to utilize your domain name
Plugins and integrations add advanced functionality which allows you to run your store more effectively and efficiently. The most important plugins for your business will solely depend on the needs. Before investing in any platform consider the tools you deem paramount and look for a solution with right plugins for each. Some of the most critical plugins include:
- Email marketing plugins
- Loyalty program
- Accounting plugins
- Apps for shipping the products
#3. Pricing and payments
Your budget is a major consideration when selecting an ideal platform. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced business expert, you need to know the exact price. The price of your preferred platform will be influenced by various factors including; the type (hosted or self-hosted), the size of the business, etc. In addition, you should be aware of the processing fees associated with each platform. However, you should never compromise the basic features for a lower price.
There are some free e-commerce platforms which include;
- Spree Commerce
- Zen Cart
Many customers are worried by the security of their information. A sketchy website will blow away many business opportunities and strangle your performance. For this reason, you need a platform that can provide robust security, like HTTPS/SSL for secure and safe checkout process for all customers. In addition, a reliable platform should be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.
#5. Mobile responsiveness
In the modern era, approximately 6 out of 10 customers use their mobile device to conduct online searches. A good number of these searches convert easily via mobile devices. For this reason, it’s always wise to select a platform that will allow potential customers to access your site easily and complete the checkout process on their mobile devices.
#6. Is the platform scalable?
You enter into business with the desire to grow and reach greater heights. If you are ambitious, you should look for a platform that will easily scale with your store. The solution should not make you pay for features that are not vital when starting out but should also be flexible enough to support every step of your growth.
#7. Customer support
E-commerce is a unique ballgame that presents numerous benefits but is not devoid of key challenges like server downtimes and software outages. Even as you focus on the benefits, it always wise to think about the type of help you can get from your service provider.
Can you get the right remedy when the server crash or they leave you to stare at the disaster with no one to help? A good e-commerce platform should avail customer support 24/7. Have a look at the level of support and the cost for each.
TOP FIVE E–COMMERCE PLATFORMS
What is PrestaShop?
PrestaShop is a French-based open source e-commerce platform that was launched in 2007. The platform is offered for free which means you get a powerful tool to set up an online store without a hassle. Prestashop is also acclaimed for its flexibility, user-friendliness, and reliability. The shopping cart is availed into two versions; self-hosted Prestashop and PrestaShop Cloud. With the self-hosted plan, you get the freedom to download and install on your preferred hosting. However, with the Prestashop cloud, you get a preinstalled Prestashop engine plus the hosting. Currently, there are over 270, 000 online store worldwide that operate on the Prestashop software and the number is growing day by day.
Prestashop is an incredible e-commerce software that provides a plethora of benefits. One of its noteworthy benefits is the ease of use. Although, this platform provides multiple tools, settings, and features you will marvel at the user-friendly, intuitive interface that make it easy to combine them. Also, its admin panel is highly mobile responsive and can easily be accessed via tablets and smartphones.
Moreover, Prestashop has a built-in SEO functionality that makes it easy to customize Meta descriptions and Meta titles. The tools also enable you to easily come up with SEO friendly URLs. Besides, it’s easy to manage core features including; payments, inventory, digital products, prices, shipping, and more.
Other benefits worth mentioning include; multistore functionality, multiple marketing tools, multi-language, and enhanced real-time analytics.
- Content management
- Access control
- Customizable branding
- Customizable templates
- Accounting management
- Bulk import/export
- SEO features
- Inventory features
- Unlimited listings
- Unlimited shipping carriers
- Estimated shipping
- Payment options
- Gift packaging
- Sell intentionally
- Customized promotions
- Automated follow-up emails
What is Magento?
Magento is the epitome of flexibility for the e-commerce platform. It is the masterpiece of e-commerce platforms’ craftsmanship that helps entrepreneurs to create a customized shopping experience for their users. This platform offers unlimited functionalities for the tech-savvy and is perfect for the needs of small businesses or large enterprises.
Being a self-hosted or open source e-commerce platform, it makes it extremely easy for entrepreneurs to add ideal features. Magento is more than average e-commerce platform and is designed for the growing companies.
Magento is an incredible shopping cart that provides a wide range of templates. In particular, the Magento themes feature unique designs which are responsive to any devices. In addition, the themes are highly customizable and user-friendly.
Although this e-commerce platform doesn’t provide preconfigured functionalities, it’s an absolute winner in terms of SEO optimization. The platform offers a wide range of SEO functionalities which includes; image optimization, meta tags for home page and products, edits of robot.txt files, canonical tags for products and categories, and more.
- Custom coupon creation
- Customer segmentation’
- Loyalty programs and rewards
- Targeted promotions
- Personalized shopping experiences
- Multiple devices friendly
- PA-DSS compliant
- Gift registry
- Multiple payment options
- Product review promotion
What is Bigcommerce?
Bigcommerce is a popular e-commerce platform perfect for small to medium businesses. The platform ranks top in the echelon of “top million sites.” It provides a rich set of features for growing sales than what most of the shopping carts can guarantee.
The platform offers a powerful solution with industry-leading templates. With its simple user interface and the spectrum of integration and features, Bigcommerce allows for advanced customization and easy management of your entire business.
One notable Bigcommerce benefits its pricing-features advantage. Although its pricing is comparable to Shopify, this platform presents reliable plans with a rich set of features. For instance, its base plan provides noteworthy features including; gift cards, real-time shipping quotes, and 24/7 customer support at $29.95. Besides, if you want more advanced features like the abandoned cart recovery, unlimited bandwidth, products, and storage, you will subscribe to the gold plan at only $79.95.
- Integration with Google Shopping, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, and eBay
- A complete all in one e-commerce offering
- Automated fraud detection
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Entirely cloud-based
- Level one PCI compliant hosting
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a respected shopping cart which is provided as a free plugin for WordPress. This is the perfect platform for any entrepreneur looking to build a website from scratch or start selling products via an existing website or Wordpress blog. WooCommerce is an adaptable, and extendable open source/self-hosted solution. It is highly flexible and gives users the freedom to view and modify its available codes.
WooCommerce has a wide spectrum of customizations which make it’s highly SEO friendly. The platform provides SEO specific options thanks to its ability to leverage Wordpress Content integration or other options via third-party plugins.
In addition, this software accords a high-level ease of use and user-friendliness. It’s a reliable plugin which when installed provides a powerful and intuitive user interface with a convenient onboarding wizard.
- Built on Wordpress
- Open development
- At least 400 extensions
- Multiple themes
- Unrestricted customization
- Built-in blogging
- Product filtering and filtering
- Unlimited products
- Location customization
#5. Open Cart
What is OpenCart?
OpenCart is a reliable open source platform offered for free. It’s a perfect e-commerce software for small to medium businesses. The platform observes a core extension model which means users can install add-ons if they require an advanced level of functionality.
OpenCart comes with all the foundational functions of an e-commerce solution. Its highlight is the support for multiple currencies and languages. In addition, the software provides an effective multistore function which allows entrepreneurs to monitor and manage web stores from a centralized admin panel.
One noteworthy benefit is the highly responsive themes. OpenCart provides tons of professionally designed themes which makes it easy to set up an attractive design for your store. The themes are both paid and free, which means they take care of the budget conscious entrepreneurs.
- Order management
- E-commerce management
- Ticket management
- Quote management
- Content filtering
- Electronic payments
- Social media integration
- Online forums
- Activity dashboard
It’s never easy to start a new business, the challenges that come with the whole tasks can be heartbreaking. However, picking the right e-commerce can make the whole process enjoyable and motivating.
The market provides both premium and free e-commerce platforms. This means it’s easy to find the perfect solution regardless of your level of entrepreneurship. We believe our guide will help you make a choice that will bring prosperity and success to your business.