To build an online store you need to use the right platform, but which platform is right for you?
There are many options, all of which offer different approaches to building your store.
If you are an eCommerce novice, it isn’t easy to go through all the technical jargon to find the right platform — So we have done it for you.
#1. Hosted eCommerce Shopping Cart platform for personal and startup websites
The first benefit of utilizing this type of platform is that hosted eCommerce carts allow you to successfully build an online store without having any technical experience. This type of platform is ideal for business owners that are just starting their first store and want to test the water in a cheap risk averse way. Other reasons to use hosted eCommerce builders include:
- No technical administrative duties – hosting and security is managed by online store builders, meaning you’ll have more time to focus on your business.
- It’s a turnkey solution – this means all shopping cart tools are pre-installed and are ready for use. No integration and very minimal configuration required.
- Drag and drop website construction – hosted shopping carts “hide” the coding, allowing you to drag and drop images, upload products, and connect your website to payment processors.
For personal/small business websites, the following are great options:
- Shopify – suitable for businesses of all sizes, Shopify is scalable and grows with your online store as your business expands. Besides providing 24/7 support, you also have over 100 mobile-ready themes and 1,500 functionality-extending apps available. If needed, there are experts you can hire to customize design and functions.
- Wix – this drag and drop website builder gives you more creative control by allowing users to drop content anywhere on your website. It suits simpler store configurations that are selling no more than 20 products and have simpler requirements, such as accounting or marketing integration.
- BigCommerce – not only does it come with 24/7 support, BigCommerce provides simple store construction, as well as social channel leverage and the option of adding advanced tools through their App Store.
- Squarespace – their stunning templates are ideal for users looking to create image-rich websites. Aesthetics aside, Squarespace gives you control over product variants, inventory management, unlimited product uploads, sales configuration, and other tools needed for a comprehensive online store.
#2. Self-Hosted Open Source eCommerce platforms for small to medium businesses
Open source shopping carts are essentially standalone programs that require you to install them onto your own host, meaning that you also have to set up, configure and manage your own hosting service for your online store. After setting up the hosting service, you’ll need to install the shopping cart platform onto your hosting account. Once a shopping cart platform has been installed, you’ll then need to install a design template and code it to make specific changes. The main benefit of using self-hosted open source software is that it’s extremely flexible; you can configure functions and customize every single part of your online store.
Here are some Self-Hosted eCommerce platforms:
- WooCommerce – this option is powered by WordPress, which allows you to build whatever type of website you want with stunning designs and powerful features. WooCommerce powers over 39% of all online stores and is the most customizable eCommerce platform on the market. The backend of WooCommerce is very user friendly, making order management a breeze.
- Magento – this agile commerce platform used by 250,000 merchants globally is flexible and quickly adapts to ever-changing customer behavior. The Magento advantage: always staying ahead of shifting customer buying patterns. The backend can be a little tricky for store owners to get used to.
- OpenCart – a free and scalable open-source eCommerce platform that offers numerous modules and themes to expand store functionality and dedicated support when needed.
If you go with this option, we strongly recommend using WooCommerce. Here are a couple more recommended reading to help you choose the right payment gateway:
#3. Managed Platforms for businesses of all sizes
Regardless of your business’s size, prominent and profitable websites require expertise and dedicated support at all times. If that’s the case, the best option for you would definitely be agencies like Pronto. They are a one-stop service that provides everything you need from start to finish. Not only do they set up your website, they also manage it and provide support whenever needed.
Dedicated project managers, unlimited page copywriting, customized, mobile-friendly designs, content migration assistance, as well as SEO keyword optimization services help establish the competitive advantage your business is looking for. After completion, Pronto provides unlimited updates, 24/5 service with live chat, monthly insight reports, managed email newsletters, and even ongoing SEO support to keep you one step ahead of the competition.
#4. Third party channels
There are numerous platform options that can be used for personal or corporate uses. We’ve gathered some platform options that are ideal for both. These are the well known channels that are worth looking into when deciding to sell your products to a large audience. They are trusted, easy to set up with, but they often take a larger cut of your sales.
- Amazon – this American eCommerce and cloud computing hybrid is the largest internet-based retailer. Offering an extensive array of products that includes books, MP3 streaming, video games, jewelry and even consumer electronics. Amazon’s subsidiary services such as Audible and Goodreads are proof of the company’s never-ending journey to innovate and elevate.
- eBay – aiming to provide a better form of commerce that is open to everyone, eBay truly provides more opportunities for all. This eCommerce platform has a proven track record of empowering individuals, businesses and even local economies.
- Etsy – this eCommerce platform serves as a marketplace where people worldwide can gather and connect, both online and offline, to make, sell, and buy unique goods. It provides a space for creative entrepreneurs to showcase their merchandise that attract customers looking for a product they can’t find anywhere else.
By equipping yourself with the right eCommerce platform, you’ve already taken one step in the right direction towards achieving a fully-functioning website. With the technical aspects sorted and out of the way, you’ll be able to focus more time and energy on developing other areas of your business to establish the competitive advantage your company deserves.
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