Working for a digital marketing agency, we see it time and time again, let me paint the picture: A business has decided to create an online store and has no idea where to start, so after talking to their daughters, cousins, best friend’s housemate who does some freelance website development, they get their store built and away they go. This seems like it’s all going to plan until about 6 months down the track where they start to find some problems with the functionality, to then be either quoted an obscene amount of money to fix it, or realise the platform is simply unable to provide the functionality required.

The point of the theoretical story that is outlined above, you ask? Deciding on which ecommerce platform to use is extremely important. Having a platform that gives you the amount of customisation your business requires, whilst also offering a strong payment system and solid customer support can be the make or break of a website and shouldn’t be taken lightly in the beginning. That’s why we’ve decided to outline the 4 best ecommerce platforms and some of their strengths and weaknesses:

Possibly the most well known and most highly regarded ecommerce platform in the industry and for good reason. Shopify is a fantastic platform for developers and owners alike as it has seamless app integrations that have vast functionality, is very easy to optimise for traffic and conversions, mobile responsiveness and loading speeds are both on point and focuses a lot of energy on it’s security measures. A wide range of themes and it’s general ease of use helps this interface to translate nicely from easy development to beautiful aesthetics when presenting to potential customers.

Shopify works on the system of monthly subscription fees, so instead of paying for all of the development up front for a store, you pay ongoing fees for hosting and owning the website along with additional fees for each transaction you have. So although this can be costly, there are enough free applications and cheap plans to make it worthwhile from small to large scale businesses.

All in all, Shopify ticks all the boxes for an ecommerce platform and as long as you have a strong and well planned budget for the ongoing costs, it is by far the best option out there!

Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce is a user friendly platform with simple and logical applications to assist with all different ecommerce elements. Bigcommerce since it’s inception has serviced over 60,000 online stores and offers some fantastic usability around optimising SEO, it’s own integrated analytics, automated image optimisation, gift card creation and many more helpful tools for ecommerce stores.

Bigcommerce also has some templates and themes to meet most needs of an online store, but it also has the ability to design your own layout from scratch if you are able to do some basic code elements. There are however a couple of small concerns with the platform only offering a smaller range of free templates and also some difficulties integrating smoothly with online stores such as Ebay and amazon if this is a direction your business is planning on going.

Overall, Bigcommerce is very similar to shopify and another great option to consider, but putting both beside one another, Shopify is just a safer and overall more functional option.

Moving away from the subscription models, Woocommerce is a free plugin that is available to wordpress websites. WordPress as a website platform is probably the most known worldwide due to it being open source and extremely easy for developers to develop on, so woocommerce tends to be an extremely popular option base off the popularity of WordPress.

Woocommerce offers a secure payment gateway and a shopping cart that both work effectively to produce an easy checkout system for customers. Although it takes a bit more development work to get a WordPress website set up and integrated with WooCommerce, it can be a great up front investment for small – medium sized businesses.

For a reasonably inexpensive and trustworthy platform, WooCommerce is an awesome start for any business.

Magento is also a fairly popular option for ecommerce as it holds a huge amount of power in it’s platform and is well known for being suitable to websites with large catalogues of products. But *BE WARNED* – Magento is a developer heavy platform, you will need someone with coding and Magento experience.

Magento is definitely one of the more expensive SaaS (software delivery system) type platforms available, meaning it definitely isn’t a good option for smaller businesses, but it is by far one of the most adaptive and customisable platforms available, making it very appealing to bigger businesses who want to design and craft their optimal store. Magento is an extremely powerful platform and has a huge amount of upside, but it’s high costs and involved level of technical knowledge makes it a bit limiting in the wider market of website platforms.

The verdict

Ecommerce solutions are normally not a “one size fits all” situation and all businesses will have different needs that suit certain their situation online. The decision is a vital one, so do as much research as you possibly can to see what ecommerce platform will suit you!

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