When it comes to finding the top five eCommerce platforms for your business, it can feel a bit like a minefield. It can also be overwhelming as a result of the number of options available.
Fear not, we are here to help guide you through some of the top platforms. We will provide you with some valuable information to assist in making an informed decision. The Top Five eCommerce platforms we have listed below will, hopefully, help you choose which is best for your business.
Key points we will be covering:
- What are the top five eCommerce platforms for 2019?
- Which is the best platform for your online store?
- How to fit your business logic with your Online Store.
By the end of this article, you’ll feel more informed and excited to select your eCommerce platform.
Let’s jump in!
Shopify is one of the leading competitors in the sea of eCommerce. It’s ideal for start-ups and stores with a straight-forward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get workflow, which is why it has earned its place as one of the top five eCommerce platforms.
The Back Story
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, who initially tried to set up an eCommerce store to sell snowboarding equipment, but were disappointed with the eCommerce platforms offerings. Tobias Lütke, a computer programmer, then decided to build their own platform, never expecting it to become one of the leading eCommerce platforms on the market.
The growth of this platform is mostly due to the mindset behind it. Shopify was built by ‘the client’ for ‘the client’. As store owners, they knew what was missing in the market and how they would like an eCommerce platform to perform. They also had the respect and value of their customers. It was crucial to help customers through the process and ensure that there was a strong support team in place at all times.
- Subscription-based SAAS (software as a service).
- Quick, easy installation and set up.
- Range of prebuilt themes from which to select.
- SEO function with the use of keywords and tags.
- Works with a range of gateways.
- Used from small startups to massive eCommerce empires.
- 24/7 support through their helpline and online helpdesk.
- The cost – this is probably its most significant downside, as you have a monthly subscription and transaction fees.
- Shopify is built on its own codebase, called “Liquid”,which means that most custom development is out of the question. You are rather locked in to their offering, without much flexibility to customise the code to suit your needs. To clarify, however, the volume of templates and plugins offered to you can often provide a solution without having to edit the code.
Your most affordable option for starting up a new business site is Shopify Lite. The Midrange option is then simply titled Shopify and focuses on a growing business that’s beginning to expand. Finally, your enterprise option is Shopify Plus, which is targeted at big businesses.
WordPress and WooCommerce go together like peanut butter and jam (or jelly for our American friends). With WooCommerce being an open-source plugin to WordPress, the two integrate seamlessly. Its focus is servicing small to medium online stores with agile requirements.
The Back Story
In 2011 WordPress launched its new eCommerce plugin called WooCommerce. In the year leading up to that, the WordPress theme developers hired Mike Jolley and James Koster (developers at Jigowatt at the time) to work with them on creating a fork of Jigoshop. This fork ultimately became WooCommerce and it has grown in popularity since then.
- Quick and easy plugin for your pre-built WordPress Site.
- Products are easily editable by store managers.
- Offers its own secure payment processor as well as shopping cart options.
- Allows for coupons to be added to products and orders.
- Constantly improving. Built upon WordPress, there are frequent updates and numerous plugins which enhance and improve the service offering.
- Doesn’t handle sudden growth well; if you are expecting your store to grow quickly and are heading towards enterprise level, WooCommerce is not for you. Ecommerce stores run slowly when there is much activity on the dashboard such as products edits, additions or simply too many visitors to the store.
- The base system is free, but you will need to be aware of development fees if you need to outsource the setup to a developer. In addition, you may also need to pay if you want to support certain gateways or additional premium plugins to enhance your functionality.
Magento mainly focuses on enterprise-level merchants. It is an open-source platform and is not approachable like Shopify and WooCommerce. The platform is potent and can maintain the stability vital to enterprise stores.
The Back Story
Magento has had quite a journey since its birth in 2007, when development started on the Magento platform. Within that same year the beta version was released to the public. In 2010 eBay bought 49% of Magento, followed by a full buy-out in 2011. eBay intended to integrate this system with their x.Commerce initiative.
By 2015, Magento branched out as an independent company and was picked up by the Permira Private Equity fund.
In May 2018, Adobe announced that they would be buying Magento to integrate it with their new Adobe Experience Cloud, which is Adobe’s Enterprise CMS platform.
Magento has managed to retain its identity through multiple ownership changes and continues to provide its clients with a powerful service offering.
- Self-hosted with Cloud Options.
- Basic platform is free (that being said, setup costs can be pricey).
- Package, subscription and various payment method options.
- Strong customer support structure.
- Can handle enterprise eCommerce needs.
- Highly customisable – with the aid of a developer you can mould it to your exact requirements.
- Compatible with multiple gateways and themes.
- Framework written using a complex PHP framework. It helps if you have knowledgeable Magento developer, but the good guys are not cheap. Make sure you have a healthy budget available.
- While the base platform is free, you will need to pay to keep it running. This can include hosting costs and having developers on the payroll to keep it current and to make changes to your store.
- Premium extensions are notoriously pricey, which will hit you hard if you are scaling up the base ‘CE’ version.
The Magento CE (Community) version is free. Be advised of pricey annual fees if you choose Magento EE (Enterprise). Summing it up, Magento EE Cloud sports a lower annual starting fee and includes hosting options.
PrestaShop is a freemium, open-source eCommerce platform. It is geared towards smaller shops who are just getting started with eCommerce and has an intuitive interface.
The Back Story
In 2005, a group of students from the EpiTech IT school in Paris launched PrestaShop. They built it as a student project and called it phpOpenStore. Subsequently (within three months), the name was changed to PrestaShop and was translated into 13 languages. In 2007, Igor Schlumberger and Bruno Lévêque founded PrestaShop SA as a registered company.
In the years since, PrestaShop has grown and expanded throughout the world with offices in over six countries.
- No monthly fees.
- Hundreds of built-in features.
- Web template system.
- Active community platform which supports and encourages developers to sell and market their offerings through the PrestaShop marketplace.
- Easily integrates with payment gateways.
- Not very scalable, it runs great for small to medium stores, but as soon as you start moving into enterprise, you may encounter challenges.
- Design and performance is weak compared to its competitors in the market.
It’s completely free, although premium addons may add additional costs.
This online store solution is freely available under the GNU General Public License. It is a robust offering for businesses of multiple sizes but requires skilled developers to customize. Best to use ‘as-is’ should the feature-set fit your use-case.
The Back Story
In 1998, OpenCart was first developed, making it one of the earliest eCommerce platforms to take form. However, it only really took off in 2009 when it was released into Google Code.
Its big boom happened in China, quickly becoming the number one eCommerce solution. Since then, OpenCart has grown in popularity throughout the world and has fast become a household name amongst these top five eCommerce platforms.
- Highly customizable; there are hundreds of themes and plugins for you to use. This allows you to enable user-friendliness without needing the assistance of a developer.
- Excellent worldwide support team.
- Easy-to-use dashboard with valuable information such as sales, traffic, popular products etc.
- Integrates with most payment gateways.
- The default SEO needs improvement.
While it’s advertised as Free, there can be monthly/annual fees depending on your setup. On the other hand, there are cloud hosting fees if you choose to not self-host. You may have to buy some of the premium themes and extensions.
In conclusion, choosing the best out of these top five eCommerce platforms will depend on what your business needs and what you can afford.
A good plan of action is to do some research, work out your budget and try to have a projection plan drawn up before you sign up. Consider where your store is today and where it will be in a few months or years from now. In other words, invest the time into exploring the options and choose a platform that will be able to grow as you do.
We hope you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.