How to choose the best platform for your eCommerce project

Those new to the eCommerce world can often find themselves overloaded with information as each organisation bids for attention, time and – of course – your money. Each business (and business owner) will have its own unique needs and wants from an e-commerce platform. Of course, the end goal will always be the same (to create profit), thus the question remains; how can each of these eCommerce platforms help you build your business and which one will provide the biggest return on investment? Not only that, but which platform will grow with you and work with you in 5, or even 10, years’ time?

Here, we take a look at some of the biggest names in the business and give you the essential information you need to know, to choose the right one for you.

 

Magento – the most sophisticated eCommerce platform of all

With an impressive array of customers, Magento has been trading since 2008 and hosts companies across the world. This e-commerce platform has a range of prices, from free to over £3,000 per month.

Magento Admin Panel screenshot

We love:

Once up-and-running, Magento allows the use of it’s powerful system to sell a large range of products as seen on many of current sites using this platform. Content management can be simple and easy to use, for those with a little know-how and Magento assigns users with a “solution partner”, who works with you to optimise your site for users and Google alike.

The risks:

This is not an easy system to set up, particularly for those who are just beginning to trade online. Most companies will usually take on a new employee to manage and work with the software, and who will liaise with the solution partner on the company’s behalf. As such, this is not an ideal platform for smaller businesses.

Best for:

Large businesses with a wide variety of stock

Currently used by:

Burger King, Liverpool FC, Bodybuilding Warehouse, Coca-Cola, Christian Louboutin and many more

 

Shopify – for those who are less into tech

This Canadian company set up shop in 2004 and has only increased in popularity over the years. Shopify offers a free trial, after which pricing begins at £23GBP a month for a basic package and goes up in cost as you scale up and choose an upgraded package.

Shopify Logo

We love:

Shopify’s biggest selling point is that it is easy to use, easy to set up and allows customers to shop with you without ever leaving your preferred social media site. Companies are able to add a responsive blog page to their ecommerce site and interaction with both Shopify and customers is very simple and straightforward.

The risks:

Should your business require an upgrade at a later date, Shopify is currently quite difficult to transfer ownership from. There have also been some complaints that the blog is somewhat restrictive compared to WordPress, with a lack of available plug-ins. Add-ons can become quite costly so, if you use this platform, be careful to monitor any expenses and outgoings in relation to competitors.

Best for:

New, small and small-medium businesses with limited stock, and those who perform the majority of sales via social media. Shopify also operate ShopifyPlus for large businesses.

Currently used by:

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

 

Prestashop – our favourite eCommerce platform

Based in Paris, France Prestashop was released in 2008 with basic versions of the software being free to use. That said, platform is free to use, however you pay for hosting and initial development. Most extras come with a cost, which varies depending on which premium add-on you require.

PrestaShop Back Office

We love:

Creating and adding products to your Prestashop platform is simple, with stock availability made clear for users and the business. It is also very much a global entity, allowing different tax rates to be applied for each country and allowing your product descriptions and site as a whole to be translated to over 25 languages.

The risks

Similar to Magento and WooCommerce, Prestashop requires some coding knowledge in order to set up your platform to the best specifications. Meanwhile, though initial set-up is free, extras can easily add up and these add-ons are not the cheapest options around. Reviews also seem to range from poor to mediocre, with an average of 1.5 stars on Trustpilot at the time of writing.

Best for:

Technically savvy small and medium businesses, with relatively limited stock

Currently used by:

La Redoute, Le Chocolat des Francais, SelfPackaging.

 

WooCommerce

A WordPress plug-in that was initially released in 2011, WooCommerce is free to use for all users, though you need to pay for hosting.

Woocommerce logo

We love:

This is one of the most popular platforms around and, as such, is responsive to many plug-ins such as MailChimp and Facebook. There’s also the added bonus that the platform is free to use (though there are some charges for extras). Finally, because WooCommerce is so heavily linked to WordPress, there is the added benefit of having the ability to blog, as well as many plug-ins available alongside WooCommerce, which can be easily integrated into the system. This can certainly make for unique websites, with almost all aspects of your site customisable.

The risks:

The close ties to WordPress have proven troublesome for those who struggle with the website giant. It will only remain easy-to-use for those who are familiar with WordPress and its plug-ins. There have also been some complaints based on the system slowing down as popularity increases.

Best for:

WordPress users with some coding skills and a small-to-medium customer base and limited stock

Currently used by:

Life & Me, Orange Amplification, Wisden, Royal Berkshire Country and Equine.

While we cannot guarantee satisfaction from any of the eCommerce options available, we hope that this jargon-free article can provide you with some unbiased views of each platform. Based on the above, we hope you can make the best decision for you and your business.

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