Updated on February 5th, 2021.
Building and scaling a successful online business starts with choosing the best eCommerce platform. An eCommerce platform is a software application that lets you manage your online shop, plus take care of back-end functions like inventory management, customer service, customer orders, and more.
With many eCommerce platform options available, narrowing your choices and comparing features can inform your decision. In this blog, we discuss the features and benefits of five popular eCommerce platforms: nonCommerce, Sitefinity, Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
1. nopCommerce: free, open-source, secure
Free and secure
A major selling point for nopCommerce is that it’s open source and totally free. You can add custom features and integrations for your online shop with the help of a certified web developer. And, since nopCommerce is based on Microsoft’s .NET platform, it offers built-in security that other platforms may lack.
Flexible and scalable
Thanks to multi-store and multi-vendor features, and no limits to the number of products you can upload, nopCommerce suits businesses of all sizes. It’ll also scale along with your growing business; you don’t need to worry about outgrowing the platform and switching to a costly replacement down the line.
Looking to set up affiliate programs or incentive programs for your customers? Want to offer customers special discounts or promote related products they might like? The marketing tools available with nopCommerce are easy to manage from the platform dashboard. If you want a more robust CMS to market your products, Sitefinity works well with nopCommerce.
Is nopCommerce right for your eCommerce business?
If you have some experience with eCommerce and you’re looking for a budget-friendly, flexible platform with lots of customization options, nopCommerce is an excellent choice.
2. Shopify: subscription-based, easy to use
Easy to use and set up
Shopify is subscription-based, easy to use and set up, which is great for small- to medium-sized business owners eager to get started. It’s not as customizable as some other options, as you have to organize your products according to Shopify’s layout. However, you may appreciate some other benefits.
Basic features and plenty of apps
Shopify offers standard eCommerce platform features, like product and order management, multiple payment gateways, marketing tools, and more. You can find other tools in the Shopify app library, but the price of those apps can add up quickly.
Be mindful of costs
While Shopify does have an impressive variety of themes for all types of businesses, there are few free themes available. The platform itself starts at $29 per month, and most paid themes cost upwards of $150 each. And unless you use Shopify Payments, you’ll have to pay transaction fees.
Is Shopify right for your eCommerce business?
It offers fewer features and less scalability, but may work if you want to self-manage a relatively small website without as much developer support.
3. WooCommerce: WordPress-compatible, customizable
Works with WordPress
Essentially a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce works with your current WordPress theme to turn your website into an eCommerce shop. With WooCommerce, you have access to the WordPress library of themes — many of which are free — for your site.
WooCommerce has plenty of free extensions available, and you can choose which make sense for your business. Choose add-ons like email marketing, shipping, or one-click selling, for example. Like WordPress, however, there isn’t much customer support and troubleshooting can be tedious if issues arise.
Is WooCommerce right for your eCommerce business?
If you’re used to using WordPress for content and already have an established WordPress website, WooCommerce is a free and convenient choice for an eCommerce platform.
4. BigCommerce: scalable and feature-rich
Sales tools and options
BigCommerce is a scalable and feature-rich eCommerce platform ideal for business owners with varying levels of experience. Unlike its competitors, BigCommerce accepts all of the popular payment options, and more: Amazon, Square, Apple Pay, PayPal, and Stripe. You can also sell across multiple channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Lots of included features
If you don’t want to spend time searching for and adding sales tool extensions for your online shops, BigCommerce may be the best choice for your business. It’s the only eCommerce platform that lets you sell physical, digital, and service-based products without having to download a third-party app.
Is BigCommerce right for your eCommerce business?
BigCommerce costs $29.95 per month for the basic subscription, but the number of built-in features and scalability make it a worthy investment. If you’re a large business or fast-growing business, BigCommerce can scale and keep up.
5. Amazon: popular and DIY
Almost half (45 percent) of U.S. B2C eCommerce sales take place through marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. You can choose to sell on one or more of these websites, even if you use your own eCommerce site as well. Amazon makes sense for attracting new customers, since 47 percent of U.S. shoppers start their product searches on Amazon — nearly twice as many as on Google!
Amazon lets sellers choose from a range of themes and designs for their storefront. You can also connect your own domain name to the site and set your shipping and tax settings. However, there are limitations and it may be challenging to create a strong brand identity. You may still need the support of a designer and/or professional copywriter to make your page look professional and rise above the competition.
Many sellers appreciate that they can ship their product to Amazon and let Amazon take it from there. They relieve the burden of inventory storage and shipping. This dependency can backfire however, as it did when Amazon stopped receiving and shipping non-essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is Amazon right for your eCommerce business?
Amazon may work for you if you run an eCommerce business as a side project or want an additional sales outlet to complement your existing eCommerce website.
6. Magento Commerce: open-source, flexible, scalable
Built in PHP
Like nonCommerce, Magento is open-source, but it’s built in PHP rather than .NET. It is owned by Adobe. Its cloud-based version is free, but there is also an on-premise version that is not free, but offers more features. PHP can run slower and have more bugs in the code, but it can still provide a great, free option for your website in the hands of a skilled developer.
Flexible to Handle Multiple Stores
If you’re managing a whole group of eCommerce stores, especially in different locations using different currencies, you have good reason to choose Magento. Its wide range of features and available integrations let a developer adapt it to just about anything you need.
Grows with Your Business
Neglecting scalability can cause your business to run into issues as you grow. Magento works well for building small or large websites, and can transition in between. The platform can support 50 products or tens of thousands of products.
Is Magento Right for Your Business?
If your eCommerce business needs a lot of features and flexibility, with the potential to grow and expand, then Magento makes a great, affordable choice.
Choose the right eCommerce platform for you
To choose the best eCommerce platform, think about where your business is now and where you’d like it to go. Look at the features offered by each platform and see if they match your business goals. A web design and development partner with experience and certifications in these platforms can help advise you on making the best choice.
Don’t forget to take your personal needs into account. Your experience in web design or preferences for user interfaces are just as important. Consider whether someone on your team will need to make quick, frequent updates or whether you can take time to go to your developer each time you need a change.
Need more advice on choosing an eCommerce platform from an experienced digital marketing agency? Bayshore Solutions’ team of developers has built 200+ custom eCommerce solutions that employ a broad range of data integrations. Contact Bayshore Solutions today to discuss how we can help grow your eCommerce business.