Choosing the best eCommerce platform
This post features an article written by Robert Rand, SVP, Rand Marketing.
When your business wants to sell products online, choosing the right shopping cart platform can be a major chore. It can be a lot like choosing a cell phone or a car. There are lots of products available, and at first, they may seem very similar, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses. In an ever-evolving digital landscape, you’ll want to select an option that makes sense based upon your short-term and long-term goals. We’ve gone ahead and given some basic information about some of the carts that we see the most, broken into 2 major groupings:
Open Source Software
Growing businesses appreciate platforms that can be more thoroughly customized to meet their needs. An open source platform leaves the doors open for your web developers to expand upon the original features and functionalities of your shopping cart software. It will also often mean that you’re responsible for installing software updates and patches, procuring hosting, and addressing other upkeep and security needs.
Magento offers both a free Community edition and a paid Enterprise edition. Their flagship 1.x version is among the most popular on the market, with Magento 2.x slowly starting to pick up market share. While Magento is a robust e-commerce software right out-of-the-box, besides a variety of good Magento hosting providers there are thousands of Magento Extensions to add extra features to Magento, just like apps do on your cell phone. For more specific needs, you can also write your own extensions, allowing for more flexibility.
X-Cart is up to version 5.x and has continued to innovate in the marketplace. While you can choose a host, the X-Cart team offers hosting-services directly. They also offer cost-effective technical support should you ever need an X-Cart expert to lend a hand. They’ve been working hard to make their platform more merchant-friendly, with easier upgrades, and better testing of add-ons written by other teams to ensure a more stable experience than some carts have historically provided for. They’ve also created more unique features, such as to run your own Amazon-style marketplace.
Miva has had significant longevity in the market and provides an open-source platform built on MivaScript, their own server-side scripting language. While Miva can support a wide variety of different business sizes, their core focus is in the enterprise market. You can host Miva anywhere that you’d like, but most Miva customers choose to have Miva provide hosting directly. The Miva team maintains the core integrity of the platform, including addressing upgrades and updates, allowing merchants to focus more on their sales and less on general upkeep. This makes Miva more of a hybrid between Open-Source and SaaS – a great option for merchants that want to have their cake and eat it too.
WordPress is well known as both a powerful blog software and a robust content management system (CMS) to maintain websites. WooCommerce is an e-commerce add-on for WordPress. Combined, you get a very flexible system to manage your website, and to sell online. WooCommerce has historically been a great fit for small and medium businesses but has signaled that they’re going to work toward better support for the Enterprise market as well. WooCommerce is especially good for sites that will be content heavy, or have very unique layouts
OroCommerce, from the makers of OroCRM, is a truly B2B platform. While many carts offer add-on features to meet the needs of wholesalers and distributors, OroCommerce was built specifically to address these needs as core functionalities. This includes features to personalize product offerings and pricing for different buyers, create quotes and when applicable convert those quotes into orders, manage configurable payment term levels, allow for corporate customer accounts with configurable roles and permissions, and more.
Prestashop has historically been very popular in Europe and other parts of the world, but as they’ve continued to innovate, they’ve been slowly but surely gaining market share in the United States and other regions. Their platform is free for merchants to use, but they do offer paid technical support plans, modules, and design themes. More recently, they’ve also added a free Cloud version for those that want a Prestashop site with less technical setup and maintenance.
Shuup is one of the youngest carts on the market. That can be a benefit in the tech world, as it’s built with newer standards and concepts in mind. They’ve built in features that other carts are still trying to add, like multi-vendor support and shop-in-shop. They also offer services like data migration, to help you switch to their platform.
Hosted carts rent you your website. In retail terms, it’s more like renting a kiosk at a mall than having an architect design a custom store for you and a contractor build it from the ground up on land that you own. Most hosted systems include hosting as well as platform updates and allow for much more of the setup to be conducted in an admin panel, requiring much less knowledge of coding languages like HTML. As a renter, your responsibilities are far fewer, but your ability to customize functionality is more limited.
BigCommerce is known for offering a fast platform with lots of extra features that would typically require paid add-ons in most other systems. For instance, for those that want to generate sales through Google Shopping, BigCommerce includes a data feed to Google out-of-the-box, making it easier for you to get your products listed successfully. Other features like abandoned cart emails, help to make sure that you get extra chances to convert visitors into sales, even after they’ve already left your site. Paired with their strong reputation for customer support, they’re a great fit for businesses that are looking to grow.
Zoey is built on Magento’s framework, providing merchants with many of the benefits of Magento, without the hassles of dealing with hosting, security patches, and other software updates. Zoey comes with a wide range of pre-installed apps and connectors, including some strong B2B features. In essence, it’s a much more merchant-friendly version of Magento without custom programming.
Shopify and Shopify Plus are gaining market share very quickly. Shopify has an ever-growing network of apps to extend its functionality. Their fees are a bit unique, as they include monthly fees + credit card processing fees. It’s a favorite of home-based businesses and small startups and has begun to work its way up the market to work with bigger merchants with more straightforward e-commerce needs.
VTEX was created in Brazil but has been gaining market share across the globe with its strong Enterprise features for merchants of all sizes. VTEX has one of the industry’s fastest and most efficient user login and checkout systems and includes well-polished features for things like advanced order processing notes – allowing merchants to see every order E-mail that’s been sent and fulfillment step that’s taken place by different staff members.
Arcadier makes it easier than ever to launch your own multi-vendor marketplace where different sellers can sign up, and offer their products, services, rental goods, and space rentals. Their system can even help with private marketplaces for special groups of shoppers.
3dCart helps businesses set up an e-commerce site with a wizard that walks you through the major settings needed for launch. For those with some coding knowledge, they provide FTP credentials, giving you more flexibility to work with your frontend design files.
For those with an existing informational or corporate site that want to include an e-commerce solution with minimal maintenance or fuss, Ecwid can be a great option. Ecwid embeds into your website much like a YouTube video would, allowing for the quick and easy integration of a shopping cart into your website.
Still not sure which platform is right for you? The team at Rand Marketing can offer a complimentary assessment, to help you find the best platform for your needs and goals.
Using this, you can now narrow down your choices of eCommerce platforms. However, processing all the orders, inventory & returns simultaneously can become difficult. Your backend operations need to be optimized to seamlessly manage everything.
Vin eRetail eXpress is a SaaS-based multichannel order management software which enables you to manage your orders, inventory and returns using a single screen with no need of technical knowledge, heavy investment and low TCO. To know more about how Vin eRetail eXpress can help you, click here.
Watch this space for the next in this guest series.
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