Indy 500 Control Room | Indianapolis, IN | 2016 – Managing an e-commerce store can feel a lot like this picture. But it doesn’t have to.
The internet has evolved to the point that e-Commerce stands head and shoulders as a viable sales option for brick and mortar retail stores. Especially since eCommerce allows smaller companies and local entities to have a presence in their industry, without the enormous overhead cost of maintaining multiple brick-and-mortar locations.
So, let’s say you’re ready to take the plunge. You’ve done your research on your target market, and you know you’ve got the product line and internal infrastructure to support vigorous eCommerce sales, but where do you go? Which e-Commerce platform is best for your company? Which Platform works best for your product line and your customers?
To demystify your prospects and give you the greatest chance for success, we’re going to have to take a closer look at some of the best e-Commerce platforms and why they can set you up for record sales.
BigCommerce was one of the earliest players in the eCommerce realm. Originally founded in Australia way back in 2009, before emigrating to Austin, Texas they have steadily grown to become one of the biggest players in online sales.
One of the things that’s helped drive BigCommerce success has been customizable features and templates that let you set up your eCommerce site to match your brand image, without compromising functionality. You can even add different variations of the same product to offer a broader lineup of options with different codes.
They also feature an innovative payment gateway that makes it easy for your customers to use their credit and debit cards to make a purchase, and for you to receive that payment rapidly through a variety of payment methods.
BigCommerce sets up your fee schedule based on sales volume. Then they also offer upgraded features for reasonable rates. Though when you start getting into these advanced features and premium services the interface becomes less user-friendly on the backend. So, if you do need a truly scalable, customizable experience, it’s wise to have an in-house IT professional handling it for you.
Shopify is an increasingly popular eCommerce platform with over a decade-and-a-half-long presence in online retail sales. They pride themselves on their user-friendly interface for retailers as well as customers.
Shopify is set up to handle popular payment processors platforms like PayPal Stripe and their own in-house Shopify Payment system.
Their intuitive interface makes it easy to get started, and it also gives your potential customers a comfort level that can help convert sales. It’s great for companies that don’t have a lot of experience setting up digital storefronts, but still, need to be able to compete in the eCommerce space.
One of the potential downsides to Shopify is that there is a monthly fee, with added charges for some of its premium features. Though the ability to reach a wide range of customers and increased chances of converting them to sales usually makes this a null point.
Shopify also doesn’t have any sort of automated marketing feature. You are sort of left on your own when it comes to marketing yourself. If you know what you’re doing in the world of digital marketing this is a non-factor. Although, as of 2023 they are starting to launch some new automation features which add a lot of value.
Otherwise, you’ll need to partner with another digital marketing expert to make sure you have the vigorous marketing plan in place to support your Shopify eCommerce sales goals.
Wix is one of the more affordable eCommerce platforms, with very affordable monthly subscription rates. Wix also has an in-house AI design system that lets you upload your logo, and choose your brand colors, then it lays everything out for you. This is a great way to save time. Especially if you’re not graphics savvy. Though if you prefer a more hands-on approach, they do have an easy drag-and-drop design editor to let you customize how your Wix eCommerce site looks.
Wix also prides itself on their tech support. They have different levels of support, boasting some of the eCommerce industry’s fastest response times.
If there is a complaint or two about Wix as an eCommerce site, it’s that once you’re set up and take the site live, it’s hard to change your template. If you need to make a major facelift, you have to start over again from scratch. Though their design features make it relatively easy to do this.
They also tend to have slower page loading speeds than some of their biggest competitors. So, Wix probably isn’t the best option if you have a massive product line with a lot of different iterations per product.
Woo is an eCommerce platform that was designed specifically to integrate with WordPress sites. This helps them rank well, as they position themselves to work seamlessly with small and mid-sized businesses.
Woo is especially attractive to midsize businesses that might not have an in-house IT or graphic staff. Their easy-to-use interface makes it easy for laymen to get their product line out to the masses, without having to make a deep dive into website design.
If there are some complaints about Woo as an eCommerce site, it’s that there isn’t a lot of customer support. If you do have a problem, the amount of time it takes to resolve it can be frustrating. You’ll also need to have your own WordPress-based domain to make use of Woo’s plug-ins.
Magento was designed to be a scalable eCommerce platform that can literally grow and evolve in lockstep with your digital marketing goals. They pride themselves on flexible and customizable templates. They are also set up to let you manage multiple eCommerce storefronts, which is something that a lot of the other competitors in this niche cannot do.
Magento’s community of users continues to grow, helping it position itself against some of the bigger players like Shopify. This is due in part to their platform being one of the more mobile device-friendly eCommerce platforms.
Of course, with all this scalability and customization you also face higher costs. While there is a free version, it pales in comparison to more expensive premium extensions, which might not offer the best return on investment if you’re a small company that just wants to dip its toe in the eCommerce waters.
Squarespace originally started life as a website builder SaaS content management system for hosting blogs. It has since evolved into a visually attractive eCommerce platform with an easy-to-use interface. This includes professional-looking templates that let you drag-&-Drop your own graphics.
Squarespace offers affordable rates with a reasonable amount of support. They offer a two-week free trial. This makes it a great place for small to mid-size businesses to get their feet wet in the eCommerce realm, without having to make a major long-term investment.
Unfortunately, after that free trial, the monthly price goes up. This makes it prohibitive for non-retailers like bloggers who want to sell some recommended products on the side. You need to be a true retailer with products that are profitable in the eCommerce realm to make the most out of Squarespace in the long term.