The Best Ecommerce Platforms For Small To Mid-market Retailers12 min read
Starting an eCommerce business is exciting. You can choose your business name, create your logo and branding, and build your website. And while it may be easy to consider your needs now, it's important to think about where your business is headed and what other tools such as eCommerce platforms you'll need.
Nowadays, simply choosing the best online store builder is not enough. Savvy entrepreneurs seek the best e-commerce platform: an ecosystem of seamlessly integrated tools that give you complete control over every aspect of your business and the ability to scale as you grow to develop. Many companies consider the process of choosing a platform as the foundation of their business. That is absolutely true! Building an eCommerce website is not difficult, but if you start with the wrong eCommerce platform or otherwise, it will soon harm your business.
In this article, let's take a look at the best e-commerce platforms and how to gauge which is best for your business needs.
Let's dive in!
What Is an Ecommerce Platform?
First of all, the concept of a Platform is a business model that creates value by facilitating exchange between independent groups, often bringing together customers and manufacturers. The platform creates communities and marketplaces that allow users to interact and transact through network effects. The shift to digital and advanced technology in commerce has changed the way we do business, creating both resources and opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Those who want to seize this opportunity cannot ignore the application of technology and digital in the sale of products. As a result, online stores are sustainably replacing brick-and-mortar stores. Brands try to succeed with their first online stores, but the results are not as expected. One of the worst mistakes they make is partnering with the wrong eCommerce platform.
Essentially, an eCommerce platform is the backbone of an online retailer. An e-Commerce platform is a software in which businesses launch, host, and manage their online stores. The platform offers features that allow merchants to build a branded online storefront to locate and sell their products and services. An online business, like all businesses, needs additional software to manage backend functions such as accounting, order management, inventory management, and customer service.
When it comes to eCommerce platforms, there is an important term you need to understand, “platform design”. The platform design is more than just technical considerations. It's about understanding and creating features for the entire business. It creates value for both users and stores and builds a network.
So it can be said that an eCommerce platform is a business model, not just a piece of technology.
Why use an eCommerce Platform?
Imagine a house without a solid foundation is as bad as an online store without a good foundation. The eCommerce platform not only supports but also enables the growth of the online store. Simply put, the eCommerce platform is crucial to the business success of any online retail business in today's technological age.
Back in the 20th century, people mainly went to brick-and-mortar stores to carry out buying and selling behavior. Now, however, years later, thanks to connectivity technology and the Internet revolution, platforms are created to facilitate the exchange of value from decentralized networks of individuals. Accordingly, the platform has grown exponentially, and the ability to enable the exchange of value has reached unprecedented levels. Whether hosted on-premises or in the cloud, the eCommerce platform ensures scalability and security for your data, providing a variety of operational benefits and business tools, including:
- A set of product management tools
- Trading activities
- Ability to search
- Personalize sales and services to your preferences
Using the eCommerce platform, you can customize your product information to best suit your online business needs. This benefits both the store owner and the customer.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform
The price range for enterprises to spend on setting up an e-commerce site varies, however paying more doesn't always provide the best experience, but surely cheaper options will make you look for additional services as you scale, you have to really understand what you're getting to decide if it's really cost-effective, consider carefully!
To choose a hosting partner you need to consider the cost of:
- Web design.
- Programming and functionality.
- Security method, network security.
- Monthly storage.
- Create custom apps.
Determining the target audience for an e-commerce site is very important if you want to develop a long-term business strategy. You can't sell technology devices on a platform that is only filled with housewives, or it is impossible to sell a medical product when all the customers of your chosen platform are concentrated mostly computer engineers. Choosing the right e-commerce platform for each business purpose, target group and knowing how to link to social media channels for advertising have a great influence on the business evaluation results of an online store.
Number of products
Depending on the product category, the business has to set up a suitable and cost-effective e-commerce site. If you have many SKUs to show on your storefront, consider platforms with large SKU limits. However, this will affect the cost, so please be as concise as possible with the list of products you want to trade while still ensuring the reasonableness for the business.
Room for growth
Initially, when your site is set up, it may have low traffic, it is understandable that this stage does not require a server with high traffic capacity, However, calculate for the stage when your business grows and runs massive promotions, thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors may visit. Every entrepreneur wants their business model to grow and expand over time. It's better to define a partnership with a scalable server from the outset, develop together with the business to meet the customers' demands to scale up.
Type of customer service available
The factor of customer care after purchase is always considered as a decisive factor for the viability and attraction of customers. None of us wants to face network failures, billing failures, interface failures without any care from our service provider. Therefore, make sure that your e-commerce site, no matter how good the product business, or how reasonable the price is, always has customer service attached to it.
Best eCommerce Platform Comparison
All e-commerce platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. Businesses need to evaluate different platforms based on their own specific needs and use cases.
Here is an overview of the most popular e-commerce platforms.
Shopify is one of the most widely used, public, and well-funded SaaS eCommerce platforms in the world. With “over 1,700,000 businesses in 175 countries worldwide have made over $200 billion in sales using Shopify”. It is a web application that helps you to create an online store quickly and easily with many templates available. You can customize those templates to best suit your online retailer's needs, or design your own storefront. They are popular with beginner stores, hobbyists, and brands with SKUs under 100.
“You don't need to have any design or engineering experience to easily create a beautiful online store,” the company states.
Shopify supports a wide range of credit cards, so you don't have to worry about payment conflicts in your store. Plus, you can make sure your store and customer data are safe as Shopify has PCI Level 1 compliance and 256-bit SSL encryption for security.
Another outstanding benefit of Shopify is that it allows users to manage their stores on the Shopify mobile app. The platform is fully responsive, so users can easily track, manage, and modify their store from anywhere regardless of mobile device or desktop access.
It is a convenient and optimal way for business people who often have to work on the go. That is one of the reasons why Shopify is the best – selling platform.
Price: Shopify Basic: $29.99/month; Shopify: $79/month; Shopify Advanced: $299/month; 10% off annual plans and 20% off biennial plans when paying in advance.
Free trial period: 14 days
Customer support options: call back the support phone; email support; support is provided in 19 languages; Community forum; Support content
Integrated sales channels: Facebook, Instagram, Google, Walmart Marketplace, eBay and Amazon
Mobile app features: a mobile toolkit to fully manage your online business
- Fast loading and response times
- Easy setup
- Confirmed by many reputable partners
- One-click sales app
- Allows multiple channels and social selling
- Amazing themes with varied designs
- Poor rating on SEO
- Can't customize the checkout process
- Applications can be incremental and expensive
- Need a developer for advanced features.
BigCommerce is famous for its world-leading cloud eCommerce platform. The platform is also known for its low total cost of ownership and very flexible APIs. BigCommerce provides you with a comprehensive set of eCommerce tools with lots of features and options. It allows your store to become pre-integrated with most of the solutions required in the eCommerce ecosystem. Businesses including both B2B and B2C customers can use this platform as it makes it easy to create different price lists or categories for different customer groups.
Due to the complexity of the built-in features, BigCommerce's initial access requirements are higher than for some software platforms like some other services. However, a new brand can still learn about the platform and use it quickly thanks to the in-depth and thorough documentation and BigCommerce support team.
Price: Standard: $29.95/month; Plus: $79.95/month or $71.95/month when billed annually; Pro: $299.95/month or $269.96/month when billed annually; Enterprise Custom Pricing.
Free trial period: 15 days.
Customer support options: 24/7 technical support by phone, email or chat.
Integrated sales channels: Google Shopping, Facebook, price comparison tools, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy and Instagram.
Mobile app features: view analytics, update orders, manage inventory and products, and find customers; some features are only for Android.
- Flexible and extensible
- Get ahead with omnichannel sales
- Strong SEO Performance
- Awesome theme design
- Inappropriate download speed.
- High-volume stores have to pay more.
- Multi-step operation to confirm buy/sell
OpenCart is another open-source e-commerce platform, just like WooCommerce. However, it is not limited to WordPress sites. But you need to have an existing website to use it. Over 300,000 online stores use OpenCart to confidently sell products of all shapes and sizes online. Also, most web hosting companies offer one-click installation or will install for free, so setup is effortless.
While you can sell any type of product, the no-fluff interface (and free price tag) makes it a great option for selling digital products for more money with work. your online business.
All without an extra monthly cost as it's 100% free forever.
However, you will have to pay to use certain extensions. But if you're running a simple e-commerce site and don't need a lot of premium extensions, then OpenCart is a great way to keep your costs down.
To get dedicated technical support directly from OpenCart, you will need to pay. Fees start at $99 for one-time fixes or $99 per month for enhanced ongoing support.
- Good SEO performance
- One-click sales app
- Lots of expert support
- Free and easy setup
- Must have background web
- No online support
- Need more add-ons for an extra fee
Magento's open-source platform is designed for small businesses and developers. It's a great online store builder if you're looking for a platform with the most freedom. However, if you have no experience with Magento, you need to hire someone with experience. Magento is fully optimized for mobile devices, but with an open-source platform, you need to build your own store. This also means you have much freedom for rich content for other products and features. You can also get more eCommerce extensions through the Magento Marketplace.
Managing a Magento Open Source store also requires some extensive expertise. The platform has integrated checkout, payment, and shipping modules, but again, you need to set them up yourself. So there are no fancy drag and drop tools, default panels or input modules in this platform.
Nor is there any direct technical support with the open-source Magento version. However, there are tutorials, guides, and forums dedicated to any questions related to Magento's platform. There are also developers for hire who specialize in Magento's online stores.
Magento is also available in a paid version, but the cost can run into thousands of dollars.
- Development freedom
- Widely used
- Create content with an easy-to-use interface
- Personalize for specific customer segments
- Update pages quickly
- Support forum
- Intermediate experience required
- Expensive paid version
FAQs About Ecommerce Platforms
Are there free eCommerce platforms?
No, there is no free e-commerce platform. Ecommerce website costs vary. Most open-source platforms are technically free with no licensing fees as part of the e-commerce package, but there will be high costs in terms of hosting and development. The SaaS platform charges a recurring monthly fee. Costs range from $30 to $50,000+ a month. However, a reputable and quality service provider will help you balance the best costs and advise on the most suitable platform.
What are the best eCommerce platforms for businesses wanting to scale?
A cloud-hosted e-commerce platform is a good choice for businesses looking to scale. Cloud hosting is one of the best options for e-commerce websites as it can keep up with the traffic. Since a network of machines handles your website's storage needs, you have virtually unlimited possibilities for growth. Typically: Shopify, BigCommerce, 3Dcart, Volusion, …
Should a startup use an eCommerce platform or build a custom solution?
It is preferable to use an e-commerce platform, as most e-commerce startups use an e-commerce platform – especially a SaaS solution. SaaS e-commerce platform allows business brands to hire technology at a low cost, making the barrier to entry into online sales extremely low. Custom solutions require huge monetary resources to build and they have delayed time to market.
No matter which path you decide to take when building your website, always remember:
- You need to make sure your store can be easily updated and managed.
- Professional web hosting is important to ensure your website is always available.
- Find checkout and shopping carts that are intuitive and efficient to use.
- Customer service comes first. Businesses should not only take money from customers efficiently but also support them properly.
- Make sure your store is fully integrated with all the leading social networking sites.
- Put security first – shoppers are now more comfortable shopping online, but always make sure your site uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), now the industry standard for online payments.
- Above every other consideration should be your website visitor experience. Don't forget your competitors are just a click away in the world of e-commerce.
No eCommerce platform is perfect, but we have narrowed down the top picks.
Choosing the best eCommerce website builder is really based on your needs. With many years of experience working with customers, Groove Technology's top recommendation is Shopify, it is really suitable for small and medium businesses that need to scale in the future with the right cost and the most optimal loading speed.
However, in terms of SEO performance, the next candidate should be BigCommerce as by far the best overall platform for any business model and works great for SEO. At Groove Technology we have selected the best website creation software and the best website hosting services:
Shopify – The Best All-in-One E-Commerce Platform for a large store.
BigCommerce – Best for medium to large stores with many features.
OpenCart – Best for selling digital products.
Magento's open-source platform is designed for small businesses and developers.
Still hesitating if you do not know which platform is suitable for your business, please contact Groove Technology immediately, we will help you optimize your idea!