Gone are the days when businesses used to solely depend on their brick-and-mortar stores for sales and customer interaction. Now e-stores are everywhere — even the smallest of businesses are shifting their focus from physical stores to e-stores.
Not only that but there has been a major shift in consumer psychology and behaviour in the last couple of years. For an instance, according to the remote payments study done by PYMNTS, 33.6% of shoppers compare prices on their mobile phones whilst shopping in a physical store. And over 2.14 billion people were expected to buy goods and services online in 2021.
So, if you still haven’t invested in your business’ integration with an e-commerce platform, then you are already lagging behind your competitors and hence, it is time to make the necessary shifts in your overall business strategy.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce help business owners like yourself create digital shops without much hassle. With these platforms, you can finally let go of the restrictive sales models of marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Moreover, by having your own digital space, you will be able to build a brand without competing for every single sale.
That’s why this article is the perfect kickstart for your digital e-commerce strategy needs as we are going to discuss everything there is to know about choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business.
Let’s start by understanding why having the right e-commerce platform is important.
Why Choosing the Right Platform is Important
Choosing an e-commerce platform is quite similar to choosing the locality of your brick-and-mortar store. The more premium location of your store, the better foot traffic ergo sales for your business. There’s a long-standing misconception among small business owners regarding the efforts, strategic thinking and planning that goes into hosting, building and running an e-commerce store.
In fact, there are more variables involved along with stiff competition from local, national as well as global brands. And since the first interaction is essentially between your customer and your website, it becomes more important to choose a platform that allows you to create a unique experience that’s equivalent to physical interaction. Additionally, the choice of your e-commerce platform will also end up defining the following things for your business:
- Growth: A good e-commerce platform serves as a much needed strong base to achieve sustainable growth.
- Cost: Hosting, running and maintaining e-commerce can prove to be quite an expensive affair which is why it’s important to pay attention and compare the pricing models of different platforms before making any decision.
- Customer Management & Engagement: The front is where your customers interact and engage with your brand and the backend of your website is where you manage your customers, their data and further interactions with your brand.
In other words, your choice of e-commerce platform can make or break your brand which is why we are going to explore the ‘how’ of choosing an e-commerce platform next.
How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform
Since there are innumerable and equally good commerce platforms in the market, it’s quite essential to have a checklist you can follow while comparing these platforms. So, here are a few things you can add to your checklist for making an informed choice of a robust e-commerce platform.
Creating an unforgettable experience for your customer should be your primary goal since it’s among the best customer retention strategies. Hence, the quality of user experience should be at the top of your checklist while selecting an e-commerce platform. Look for features like multiple payment getaway integrations, customizable navigation, interactive product catalogues, seamless checkouts, etc.
As time passes and you acquire more and more customers, your business grows. And at different growth stages, business objectives and goals also vary which is why it’s important to ask this question while selecting the e-commerce platform, ‘will this platform grow with my business? Or will this platform be able to support and scale my business’ growth?’
Even though this particular aspect is listed third in the sequence, it should be your topmost priority while selecting your e-commerce platform. Since your website will collect a lot of your customers’ personal data, it’s important to go for an e-commerce platform that’s secure and adhere to at least the basic rules and regulations of data privacy and security.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a mobile-friendly platform that allows your customers to have an equally, if not better, shopping experience of your website on their mobile phones. If possible, look for a platform that’s mobile-first since 54% of total e-commerce sales were mobile commercial sales in 2021. We are literally this close to experiencing a shift from E-commerce to M-commerce.
Key Features of a Good E-commerce Platform
Apart from the above-mentioned aspects, here are a few key features you should definitely look out for while choosing an e-commerce platform.
- Website Personalization: Personalization is everywhere; from ads, emails to websites. Creating a personalized experience for your customers will go a long way for your brand image. For example, having a personalized greeting like ‘Hello John’ on your website.
- Flexible Pricing: Sales, discounts, and promotions are a big part of any e-commerce business strategy – so make sure to look for a platform that allows you to seamlessly create coupon codes, run sales, send promotional emails, and more.
- Ecommerce Analytics: To make an informed and data-backed decision, you will want to have a look at website statistics like organic sessions, source/medium of your traffic, and more. So make sure to choose a platform that provides integrated analytics features.
- Robust Integration: One of the underrated features – integration. To run a smooth, high-functioning website, you will need to integrate various tools like payment gateways, CRMs, automation tools, email marketing tools, and more. So, it’s important to pay attention to the ease of integrating your suite of necessary tools with your website.
- SEO-friendliness: SEO plays a big role in providing the necessary visibility to your brand websites on search engines like Google, Bing, and more. So, make sure your platform allows you to add meta details to your web pages, add sitemaps, robots.txt, and other SEO practices. If not, make sure your e-commerce platform has SEO extensions like YOAST, etc.
Now that you have a checklist ready to pick just the right e-commerce platform for your business, let’s start the comparisons.
Here we are going to briefly take a look at 8 different e-commerce platforms, discuss their top features and pricing — so you can make an informed decision by the end of this article.
Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms to Expand Your Business Digitally in 2022
Shopify is among the most recognized e-commerce platform in the market. It is known for its diverse and huge app market having 6700+ industry-leading apps, tools and plugins. Apart from the very-beneficial app market, Shopify also offers multi-channel selling which means you can sync your inventory and orders across different sales channels like Facebook/Instagram, Amazon, eBay, etc. It also offers 24/7 customer support, a free SSL certificate to secure your website, and an integrated secure payment processor making it easier for your customer to trust your brand.
- Free trial available
- Plenty of themes
- Huge collection of plugins
- Unlimited products
- 24/7 support
- Inventory locations up to 8 (depending on the Shopify plan)
- Free SSL certification
- Discount codes and gift cards
Bigcommerce is known for its modern features like unlimited user accounts, complex inventory management that allows you to sync sales from Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and manage these channels within BigCommerce, and more. They also have a wide range of advanced, customer-centric website themes that can help create a unique website experience for your customers. They also have a big community of designers and developers that makes it easy to get experienced professionals in case you want any customizations.
- No additional transaction fees
- Unlimited products, file storage and bandwidth
- Necessary integrations like Facebook/Instagram, Google Shopping and more
- Mobile responsiveness and mobile app
- Single-page checkout
- Multiple payment gateway integrations
- Multi-channel selling
If you are familiar with WordPress backend and technicalities, then WooCommerce is a perfect choice. All you need to do is install the WooCommerce plugin and you can turn any website into an e-commerce store. And since WordPress has a humongous marketplace for apps and extensions, you can simply integrate payment plugins, product catalogue plugins, shipping and order management plugin, and more. Basically, you have the freedom to customize your store in the way you want.
But one of the biggest drawbacks you will face with the WooCommerce platform is scaling. It’s not impossible, but it’s quite complex and the costs always run high considering you will have to pay for a lot of different plugins.
- Easily customizable
- Flexible and secure payment options
- Robust order management
- Automate tax calculations and live shipping rates
- Easy of operation since it’s built on WordPress
- Unlimited orders and products
- Most affordable option
Adobe Commerce (Powered by Magento)
If you are ready to spend a certain among of budget in hiring an in-house developer, then Adobe Commerce is the best option out there for hosting an e-commerce store. It’s powerful, it’s customizable, and it’s scalable – everything you need from an e-commerce platform. Big brands like P&G, Nike, Cisco, and many more trust Adobe Commerce with their brands and customer experience.
One of the other good things about this platform is its developers’ community which is quite active and high-functioning. This means, no matter what the issue, you can post your questions and you’ll get answers from experienced developers all around the world.
Since it’s on the cloud, it’s quite faster and comes equipped with robust features like trigger0based campaigns, AI-based product recommendations, automated cross/upsell, and more.
So, if you have the budget, Adobe Commerce is the option to go with.
- Mobile friendly
- Robust content management system
- Advance search engine optimization features
- Third-party integrations
- Easily scalable
- Benefits of being a part of Adobe Experience Cloud
- Multi-channel selling
- AI-fueled product recommendations
Pricing: For Adobe’s Pricing, you will have to book a demo with them. You can do it from here.
WIX is the best option if you come from a non-technical background and are planning to manage the website on your own. It comes equipped with a super cool and easy-to-use editor that makes creating web pages a child’s play — all you have to do is drag and drop elements, and you’ll have your website.
They also have a wide range of website themes — some are available for free and others paid. The cherry on top is that it’s known for providing the best on-page customer support to its customers.
It’s the best choice for solopreneurs.
- Unlimited bandwidth and products
- Secure payments
- High-quality themes
- Integrations with social channels for selling
- Easy to design landing pages with Wix Editor
- App Market
Other Few Prominent Ecommerce Platforms
When it comes to e-commerce platforms, you can never take one size fits all. Based on your requirement, product catalogue, technical knowledge, target audience, the right choice for you will differ. For example, if you have a limited catalogue and customers, then you can start with WooCommerce. But if you have an established online presence on social media channels and Amazon, then you might want to consider Shopify or Bigcommerce. Or if you are constantly growing at a rapid pace, then you can also consider going for a custom e-commerce platform.
So, before you start comparing e-commerce platforms, make sure you create a detailed requirement doc to make a sound choice.