How to choose the best eCommerce platform for your business?
Starting an online store is an exciting venture, but choosing the right eCommerce platform can be a daunting task. Fortunately, you have your options.
Determining where to start can be an overwhelming task with the multitude of options available, especially in the flourishing eCommerce industry with an abundance of niches, products, features, and competitors. However, custom eCommerce software development can play a pivotal role in enhancing the user experience and driving significant growth.
The graph below shows an evident rapid growth for retail eCommerce sales in the US from 2017 to 2023 (in million US dollars)
In the current digital era, the right platform can make all the difference in the success of your online business. So, it's important to choose a platform that meets your specific needs and requirements while also providing a seamless experience for your customers.
In this blog, we'll provide you with the essential factors to consider how to choose the best eCommerce platform for your business. Whether you're a small startup or an established enterprise, this eCommerce guide will help you make an informed decision and set you on the path to online success.
So let's jump in!
What is an eCommerce platform?
An eCommerce platform is a software application that enables online businesses to manage and sell their products or services over the internet. These platforms provide a complete suite of tools for setting up and running an online store, including website design and management, shopping cart functionality, payment processing, and order fulfillment.
With an eCommerce platform, businesses can manage their inventory, process payments, and handle customer orders and shipments all in one place. This can help to streamline their operations, reduce administrative overhead, and provide a more seamless online shopping experience.
Why an online presence is crucial for your business?
For any business taking their first step in the digital economy, some common questions arise: What are the top advantages of starting online? Does it have any real advantage over a brick-and-mortar location?
The answer is yes, and the benefits are far more than the cost-saving on the rent. Some of these benefits include:
Easy, Fast Launch. It has become family simple to start a retail business online with the smallest capital investment. Go from the idea stage to open and running in a matter of hours. Nothing can stop you now!
Online Shoppers. Studies show that most shoppers will try out an online store before they ever find the physical location. In fact, in the past decade the amount of people shopping online exceeds the number of shoppers in a physical store.
Global Reach. Using eCommerce effectively can help you localize your content worldwide, reaching customers farther than you ever thought possible.
Niche Markets. Does your business fill a niche market? Do you specialize in a specific product? eCommerce makes it easier for customers to find you.
Lower operational costs. Operating an online store typically requires lower overhead costs compared to a brick-and-mortar business, as there is no need for rent, utilities, and other physical store expenses.
Convenience for customers. Customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes and have products delivered to their doorstep, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction. If you have both a physical and online store, it adds up to an overall omnichannel approach for the future.
Easy tracking and analysis. eCommerce platforms typically come with built-in tracking and analysis tools, for example, CRM software development. That can help business owners understand their customers better and make data-driven decisions.
Increased flexibility. With an eCommerce store, businesses can easily adapt to changing customer preferences and market conditions, allowing them to quickly make changes to their product offerings and pricing.
Increased brand visibility. An online presence can help to increase brand visibility and build brand recognition, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and long-term success.
With so many benefits at hand, it's obvious how you can increase your revenue and profit in the retail industry by utilizing the power of online stores. This also explains how the global eCommerce market is expected to total $6.3 Trillion this year and over 8 Trillion by 2026!
Now that you're ready to build your own eCommerce website, let's consider your options before getting into the nitty-gritty of choosing the best platform for eCommerce website.
Do different options exist?
It is exciting to look forward to having a successful new business.
Before getting too far ahead of yourself, it's best to determine which is the best option for you and your type of business. There are many different options available so you should do your homework. It will pay off with better results. After all, you wouldn't want to put in all the hard work only to realize your business doesn't match the type of platform you've chosen.
Which eCommerce platform types of providers you choose can make or break your new start-up. There are custom options that fit your brand and demands like a glove. But you'll need that upfront investment to outshine all mediocre platforms.
There are existing open-source eCommerce platform free providers available that can lower your initial monthly costs; the drawbacks are that you need to be tech-savvy enough to use their platforms.
Then there are also cloud-hosted eCommerce platforms or SaaS eCommerce subscription providers who do it all for you and charge a monthly fee for staying on the platform. The cost of many subscription providers is minimal when you consider the benefits but they have their drawbacks as well. (We'll get into that later.)
Below are some of the most popular eCommerce platform options, subscription and free; take your time to go through them individually to see which service will better fit your type of product or business.
Custom eCommerce platforms
Custom eCommerce platform development involves building a unique and personalized solution for your online store from the ground up. This approach allows you to have complete control over the design, functionality, and overall user experience of your online store, and provides the flexibility to tailor the platform to your specific business objectives and requirements.
Custom eCommerce development typically requires a larger upfront investment and a longer development timeline compared to existing solutions, but can provide a more scalable and customized platform in the long run.
If you have a large and complex product offering, specific business requirements, or the need for a highly customized user experience, custom eCommerce platform development may be the best option for your business. This is much more essential when you want to stand out from competitors and make your brand unique.
Shopify – Considered the top provider and the best eCommerce website platform with over 2.1 million active users. Shopify has an in-house payment system, and its product inventory management system is easy to use. One downfall is that there are few free themes to choose from and only allows for two accounts on the cheapest plans.
Webflow– It's a powerful eCommerce website platform that is quickly gaining popularity over Shopify among business owners. One of the biggest advantages of Webflow is its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, which makes it easy to create custom eCommerce websites and equip it with better features. Webflow development services are the best-in-class design and eCommerce functionality tools, with a range of customizable templates and design elements.
Wix – This is a top-rated platform. Some of the benefits are that Wix has no transaction fees, free templates, 24/7 phone support, and your domain name is free for the first year. No live chat, but the low prices and phone support may make up for it.
Squarespace – A hip player to eCommerce platforms. Getting started with Squarespace is simple, and moving inventory into a brick-and-mortar location with Squarespace keeps you heading in the direction of growth. Other advantages are that they have lots of free themes, a free domain name for the first year, and meager monthly rates. The bad news here is that you pay a 3% commission on the lowest-priced plan, and they do not have many support options.
Zyro – The newest platform provider on the scene, Zyro is also the cheapest. They offer a few free themes, a free domain for the first year, and images from Unsplash. Downfalls are that it has little support experience and limits the cheapest accounts to a mere 100 products.
WooCommerce – This could be a good option if you already have website hosting, a domain, and WordPress. You are the master of your progress here; either you know your stuff, or you will need to hire someone to get you started. The good news is that they provide a payment platform and support forums for help.
PrestaShop – A tremendous free platform choice. It has fraud detection in-house and offers a support forum. Available in 75 languages, but one drawback is that you have to scour the forums to find free themes from other users.
OpenCart – OpenCart is a free and open-source eCommerce platform that is designed for small to medium-sized online businesses and is one of the best eCommerce platforms for startups. It provides a simple and user-friendly interface for setting up and managing an online store, including the ability to manage products, orders, customers, and payments.
9 main factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform
As you consider how to choose an eCommerce platform and compare the platform choices, you may be wondering what things are the essential features to be looking at. What are the vital offerings that should be included in a basic plan?
Evaluate what the start-up costs are with each option. For example, do they include your domain fee or offer support? What will the total amount spent be on the platform to get opened from start-up to opening day?
As with anything in life, if it is easy to use, you are more likely to use it and be happy with it. A platform that has an intuitive design that makes sense will make going online a snap.
When you choose an eCommerce platform, be sure to review the number of payment methods available to you. You want a global reach; this means you will have to process a variety of payment data brands.
If your business is creating artwork to print on T-shirts or other clothing, then you might use a third-party printer to complete your orders. If your eCommerce platform allows system integration services, your website can process orders seamlessly, collect a payment, print the item, ship the product, and deposit the profits.
If the type of business you have is creating individual works of art, then keeping steady orders and staying busy may be all you are looking for. However, if you are looking to grow and want to reach the far corners of the earth, you want the platform you choose to offer scalability to grow with you as your business matures, changes, and expands.
Consider the user experience for your customers, including the checkout process, mobile optimization, and overall ease of use.
Look for a platform that integrates with the tools and services you already use, such as payment processors, shipping providers, and email marketing services.
Consider your need for customization and choose a platform that provides the level of customization required, whether that be through templates, plugins, or the ability to add custom code.
Ensure that the platform you choose provides secure payment processing and data storage, and consider the level of security and privacy required for your business and customers.
The best eCommerce platforms
Whether a custom eCommerce platform or a subscription provider is better for an eCommerce store depends on several factors. Most of these factors are unique to every business' needs.
Advantages of custom platforms
Tailored to specific needs: A custom platform can be built to meet the specific needs and requirements of the business, providing a unique and customized solution that may not be possible with a subscription provider.
Scalability: Custom platforms can be designed with scalability in mind, allowing the business to grow and expand without limitations.
Unique features: Custom platforms can be built with unique and proprietary features that can set the business apart from competitors.
Advantages of subscription providers
Quick setup: Subscription providers offer a fast and easy setup process, allowing businesses to start selling online quickly and with minimal upfront investment.
Lower upfront investment: Subscription providers typically have lower upfront costs and ongoing expenses compared to custom platforms, making them a more cost-effective solution for small businesses.
Regular updates: Subscription providers regularly release updates and new features, ensuring that businesses always have access to the latest tools and technology.
Final verdict – Stand out in the world of eCommerce
Ultimately, the decision between a custom platform and a subscription eCommerce provider will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the business, as well as its budget and resources.
A business that requires a highly customized and scalable solution may be better served by a custom platform, while a smaller business with limited resources may find a subscription provider to be a more cost-effective solution.
However, combining both options can work wonders to help you stand out and rise above the noise. Working with the right team to supercharge your template-based eCommerce website on Webflow, Shopify, or Squarespace can help you make the most of these eCommerce platforms while adding your brand's unique identity to the mix.
In fact, recreating your online store on Webflow with the help of experts brings all essential factors to the table. Whether it's saving on budget, increasing usability, advanced features, scalability and flexibility, custom APIs, an incredible UX, and most of all impeccable security, you get everything in one place.
If you're set to take your eCommerce platform game one step ahead of everyone else, get in touch with the retail software development experts at Coax Software to redefine your online store.
Know your vendors before getting started!
The United States alone is projected to produce more than $740389 Million in revenue by 2023. Don’t get left behind. You also want to keep your company’s reputation intact.
An important thing that you won't want to forget when evaluating your eCommerce solution is how your vendors work with your platform and which vendors are available. Your vendor represents your company, your reputation, and the face of your business. It would be best to vet your vendors, much like a prospective employee for a high-level position.
What is their reputation? What is the quality of their products? Try purchasing a few different items to ‘quality test’ their production times and results regardless of what platform you choose.
Charles Hunsinger, Senior VP and CIO for the Oriental Trading Company, gave this advice to vendors. "Retailers should treat hiring a vendor with as much diligence as they would hiring an employee. After all, vendors often handle the work of several employees.”
It's time you take your eCommerce business to the next level. If you're still unsure or what solution fits your business, consult the developers at COAX and learn more about your possible course or action.
Which is the best platform for eCommerce?
If you already know what is an ecommerce platforms you must also know that the best platform for every business can be different. When it comes to saving initial cost free and subscription eCommerce platforms are a great way to get your online store running. However, both options lack the scalability, advanced features, customizability, and security that comes with custom eCommerce software platform development. In the end, if your budget is flexible, opting for a custom solution is the best option because it will likely pay you back with better return on investment for the future.
How to choose the right eCommerce platform?
Understanding your business needs, user demands, and priorities is key to making the right decision. Ask yourself whether customizability or additional features seem important to your store, or would you rather opt for a subscription platform. Free platforms will eventually lead you to hire web developers, so you must also consider other factors like API integrations, user-friendliness, UX/UI design, and security.
How to choose an enterprise eCommerce solution?
Selecting the right enterprise eCommerce solution is a critical decision for businesses aiming to thrive in the digital marketplace. There are several factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform:
Begin by evaluating the scalability of the platform. Ensure that it can accommodate your business's growth, including an expanding product catalog, increased user traffic, and a higher volume of transactions.
Customization options are also crucial. Look for a solution that can be tailored to align with your brand's unique requirements and aesthetics.
Next, assess the integration capabilities of the platform. It should seamlessly connect with your existing systems, such as CRM, ERP, and third-party applications. This integration streamlines your operations and simplifies data management.
Security is a top priority. Choosing an eCommerce platform that prioritizes the protection of customer data and sensitive information is a must. Verify that it complies with industry standards and employs robust encryption protocols.
Performance matters. Opt for a solution that delivers fast page load times and responsive design, as a slow website can discourage potential customers.
Mobile-friendliness is non-negotiable in today's market. Ensure the platform is fully responsive to mobile devices, as an increasing number of customers shop via smartphones and tablets.
User experience is a critical aspect. The platform should offer a user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation to convert visitors into customers. Consider conducting user testing to evaluate its usability.
In conclusion, choosing the right enterprise eCommerce platform for your business requires careful consideration of these factors. By conducting thorough research and understanding your business needs, you can make an informed decision that propels your online business to success.
What are the main must-have features for eCommerce?
When setting up an eCommerce store, there are several must-have features that are essential for a successful online business. These include: Product catalogs, Shopping cart, Payment processing, Shipping and tax calculation, Customer account management, Order management, Marketing and promotion tools, Analytics and reporting, Mobile optimization, and Customer service tools.
How do you deal with features your team haven’t implemented before?
Developing innovative, never-made-before features is part of our identity as a pioneering software company. We take a research-driven and user-centered approach to come across solutions unique to our clients' demands. How we would implement certain features and test them is usually decided during the discovery phase for our eCommerce software services. If you haven't found the right people to bring your ideal features to reality, get in touch with the COAX experts for a discovery call to see how it works!