How to Choose the Right eCommerce Platform

When it comes to choose an e-commerce platform, there are many things to take into consideration. Such as marketing functionality, easy of use interface, scalability and flexibility. While it could be easy to be lured to choose the most powerful solution, maybe thats is not what you need.

Below I will list the most popular e-commerce platform for 2015 and for which business they are most suitable for. Before I continue I want would like to do a brief introduction.

You can divide eCommerce platform into two areas: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted simply means that they company will run your site and take care of all the infrastructure around it. Self-hosted is usually Open Source solutions where you need to take care of everything from hosting to development.

If you are new into eCommerce and have limited technical knowledge I would normally advice to use a hosted solution.

Search Trends Over Time For eCommerce Platforms.

Hosted Solutions

Shopify

Shopify was founded in 2004 and are a fully managed commerce platform with the capability to sell both online and in retail point-of-sale. Shopify’s core features include the ability to manage products, inventory, order fulfillment and includes 70 payment gateways. You can extend your store with apps and there are for the moment over 1000 apps (both free and paid) There are also premium themes and Shopify developers that could help you to design or develop features for your store. The price are from $29 a month with 2% transactions fee to $179 with 0.5% transaction fee.

Who Should Choose Shopify

  • Small to medium sized companies
  • If you are on a tight budget
  • If you don’t have technical or programing skills
  • If your store are going to be in only one language
  • Less than 1000 products
  • Wants an easy to use and attractive interface
  • Selling digital products
  • Are ok with some limitations to develop or integrate with other systems.

Who Shouldn’t Choose Shopify

  • Large to enterprise sized companies
  • If you want your store multilingual
  • If you have more than 1000 products
  • Have plans to integrate your store through API
  • If you are looking for an open solution without limitations.

Tictail

Tictail is a Swedish e-commerce platform that was founded 2011. In under two years Tictail has seen over 35,000 stores created on the platform and were dubbed as “the Tumblr of e-commerce” Tictail was built with an easy of use and modern interface with the slogan that you can be up and running in a couple of minutes. While Tictails interface is innovative user friendly, it also have its limitations. e.g. you can only have one shipping fee for all products. For the moment Tictail offers three payment gateways, Paypal, Stripe and Klarna. Tictail is free for anyone to setup and you can extend your store with both free and paid apps. There are currently 40 apps. There is attractive templates that are mobile ready if you are on a tight budget. You can also edit the template with HTML and CSS to customize your store.

Who Should Choose Tictail

  • Smaller companies with no technical experience
  • If you are on a tight budget
  • If you don’t have programing skill and are looking for a store that anyone could use.
  • If your store are only going to be in one language.
  • Have less than 500 products
  • Selling digital products
  • Are more looking for a showcase rather than a full-scale e-commerce platform.

Who Shouldn’t Choose Tictail

  • Large to enterprise sized companies who want a flexible platform
  • If you want your store multilingual
  • If you will offer more than 500 products.
  • Have plans to integrate your store through API
  • Looking for an open solution without limitations

Volusion

Volusion is the second most used online shopping cart and are offering advanced features to build and market your store. The offer hundreds of attractive templates and will get a great looking store without any hassle. Volusion has a powerful inventory management and color swatches ready to use. You can connect your store to Amazon, eBay or to logistics company in a n easy way to grow your business and give your customer a good service. Pricing are from $15 to $135 without any transaction fees.

Who Should Choose Volusion

  • Small to medium sized companies with no technical experience
  • If you are on a tight budget
  • If you don’t have programing skill and are looking for easy to use interface
  • If your store are going to be in only one language.
  • Have less than 1000 products.
  • Want advanced builtin marketing and SEO features.

Who Shouldn’t Choose Volusion

  • Large to enterprise sized companies who want a flexible platform
  • If you want your store multilingual
  • If you have more than 1000 products.
  • Have plans to integrate your store through API
  • Looking for an open solution without limitations

Summary Hosted Solutions

Hosted solutions offer a powerful easy to use interface with advanced features direct of the box or with apps, they will take care of everything from your hosting, infrastructure to security issues. While they are usually the best solutions to small and medium sized companies they don’t come without limitation. For example, Shopify has promised to integrate Klarna (A payment solution in EU) since three years back, although Klarna has made a ready module they still hasn’t integrate the module. When hosted solutions develop their platform they also need to consider all current shopping owners, which means that some features will be to complex to ever integrate to their system. If you are planning to choose a hosted solution, write down the 5 most crucial feature you will need and see if they offer those.

Most Popular e-commerce Software (Top 1M sites), Feb 2013 

 

Magento-Usage-Stastics

Self-hosted Open Source Solutions.

Magento

Magento is the leading e-commerce platform provider. Magento’s market share among the 30 most popular e-commerce platforms is about 30%.
Magento is an open source solutions which mean that there are no limitation and are one of the most powerful and scalable e-commerce platform on the market. They have a huge community who are developing extensions and template. For the moment they have +7000 extension on the marketplace. If you need to integrate Magento to any API, its possible. Most companies will also provide an extensions to integrate Magento with their system. But all this come to a price, because of its flexibility the code are complex if you compare to other solutions. The interface is not easy not use and the most simple thing could be really hard to change. The learning curve is steep and you will need to spend some time to get used to it. You will most likely need a developer to develop your store and that will eat up your budget. The platform also need good hosting that is optimized for Magento, if you use a cheap shared hosting the loading time will rather be 6 to 12 sec.

Who Should Choose Magento

  • Medium to enterprise
  • Have a huge budget
  • Have PHP and javascript developers available
  • Needs a flexible and scalable platform without limitation
  • Have +1000 products
  • With one backend CMS, Magento allows you to create multiple online stores
  • If you need a multilingual and multi currency store
  • Planning to grow your e-commerce store.

Who Shouldn’t Choose Magento

  • Medium to small sized company with a small budget
  • If you or your staff doesn’t have programing and technical skills
  • Have less than 100 products
  • If you only need a simple platform with no integration
  • If you want an understandable easy to use interface

PrestaShop

Since its launch in 2007, PrestaShop has grown into 500,000 members. PrestaShop host more than 150,000 e-commerce sites and have about 3 million downloads. PrestShop offer a powerful interface and have the flexibility to build a scalable business. If you want to fine tune your site into a unique design and integrate specific functionality, PrestaShop is a good option. PrestaShop is a multilingual platform for those who intend to sell to countries that are not english speaking. If you want to customize your store it will be developers who can help you for a reasonable price and within reasonable period of time. It’s fast and it does not require expensive servers to run. Its easy to learn and are rapidly improving.

Who Should Choose PrestaShop

  • Medium to large sized companies with reasonable budget
  • If you need a multilingual and multi currency store
  • Have 500+ products
  • Need a powerful solution with great flexibility

Who Shouldn’t Choose PrestaShop

  • Small companies with a tight budget
  • Have less than 100 products
  • If you only need a simple platform with no integration
  • If you or your staff doesn’t have programing and technical skills

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the newest player on the market and was hitting 500,00 downloads within 16 months of its launch. WooCoommerce is based on WordPress CMS platform which means you have access to one of the larges communities in the world. WooCommerce is easy to set up and have a slick interface. WooCommerce is lightweight which means that you will not need expensive hosting or servers to run your store. With that said WooCommerce is very basic. Most features that would come standard with other e-commerce solutions like Shopify, Volusion or Magento, or are available for purchase as extensions. Its ideal solutions for smaller business with a tight budget that doesn’t need all the premium features offering by the other solutions. WooCommerce is one of the few solutions that really simplifies the e-commerce with highly intuitive and simple user-interface.

Who Should Choose WooCommerce

  • Small sized business with a tight budget
  • If you are looking for an easy to use, user friendly and modern interface
  • Have no technical skills
  • Perfect for selling digital products.

Who Shouldn’t Choose WooCommerce

  • Medium to large sized companies
  • If you need your store in multilingual
  • If you are looking for powerful marketing functionality
  • Have more than 500 products.

Summary Self-hosted Open Source Solutions
The open source platforms are generally more flexible, so if you want a total customized site with a lot of functionality that is not limited to the platform provider, they are normally the better choice. This although come with a price, you need to hire developers, take care of the hosting, you will need technical knowledge in order to get most of the platform. If the site goes down on a black Friday while your order are peaking, its up to you to fix it.
If you are a medium to enterprise sized company and need a scalable and flexible platform, Magento will offer all that.

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