When you pick the World Wide Web as your go-to place for selling products, choosing an e-commerce platform is one of the most crucial measures you will take. When you begin to compare platforms it can be quite a challenge to determine how a slight difference in performance and features can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line down the road – and they can.
In this post, we highlight SEO capability, speed, and several other features of the best e-commerce platforms for online stores. In the end, you’ll be able to decide which platform is best for your e-retail shop and offers maximum benefit.
However, before we get to that, let’s first understand what actually is an e-commerce platform.
What Are E-commerce Platforms & Why You Should Consider Using One?
Simply put, e-commerce platforms are unique software applications that enable entrepreneurs to manage their inventory, operations, and sales. They include powerful features needed to streamline business operations, while also possessing the capability to integrate with frequently used tools – enabling store owners to centralize their efforts and manage their online shop in the way they prefer.
Whether you’re planning to launch a business from scratch, planning to switch platforms, or expanding your current brick-and-mortar operations, your selection of e-commerce platform will play a significant role when it comes to the stability and profitability of your company. That’s why it is essential to use a platform that is equipped with all the features you need to fulfill your target audiences’ needs.
Currently, the following are the only available alternatives to using a fully-fledged e-commerce platform.
- Create a multi-page website from scratch – this isn’t possible for many entrepreneurs with limited budgets – and justifiable only for large organizations doing millions in revenue.
- Using plugins – this isn’t viable if you’re planning to launch and grow an online store. It is only useful if you’re planning to store and list a limited range of products.
Due to the reasons mentioned above, and the shortage of solid alternatives, it makes sense to use an e-commerce platform for selling online.
Top E-commerce Platforms for Budding Store Owners
Known as one of the world’s best e-commerce solution (cloud-hosted) for small to midsize companies, BigCommerce allows companies to increase online revenue with less time and difficulty than on-premise solutions. Features like gift cards, real-time quotes for shipping, and point-of-sale integrations are included in its basic plan. Also, its marketing tab allows owners to integrate with marketplaces like eBay, as well as social media websites like Facebook. In addition, BigCommerce goes up and beyond when it comes to customer service as it provides users with access to the “Success Squad”. These are a group of e-commerce specialists that answer your queries on a personal level, which can be quite handy when tutorials fail to make you understand the platform’s capabilities.
However, users have to upgrade to a costlier plan for using advanced features like abandoned cart recovery. That said, store owners don’t require more than the upper-tier plan (priced at $79.95/month) to offer a wide range of shopping options to consumers. It carries all the features and comes with unlimited storage, product capacity and bandwidth. However, affiliate marketing options are limited in BigCommerce, so it might not be the best option if you’re planning to take this route for the purpose of driving e-commerce traffic. Also, you have to sign up for a paid plan if you want to utilize email marketing integration with Interspire, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and the likes. Other platforms offer these features on their basic plans.
Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce software tools out. It’s suitable for merchants of all sizes, as well as Fortune 500s (Shopify now offers Shopify Enterprise for businesses that do large volumes). One of the reasons for the big success Shopify has enjoyed in recent years is its native app store. The Shopify app store makes it a breeze to expand the capabilities of your default web storage. It offers a variety of apps, as well as a range of beautiful themes.
The software itself comes with abandoned cart recovery. Similar to BigCommerce, it is available on the costlier version of Shopify. That said, all Shopify plans include a friendly website builder, an option to integrate with drop shipping companies and fulfillment centers, and a point-of-sale system in case you want to handle some transactions in your brick-and-mortar store (if you have one). All this functionality, coupled with Shopify’s reporting and analytics capabilities, arm you with a complete arsenal of e-commerce tools and insight.
Volusion’s e-commerce cart solution is loaded with a range of features: wish lists, guest profiles, and even a unique pop-up list that allows shoppers to see their cart without having to leave the webpage. The shopping cart experience is also responsive and multi-lingual, so it caters to the needs of a broader range of shoppers. Those new to online stores and e-commerce would admire the platform’s easy-to-navigate interface. Additionally, the vendor makes it blissfully simple to design a store – just pick a template, select “Install”, and click “Activate”. That’s all you have to do.
Besides that, Volusion provides easy access to tutorials and other resources, which you can navigate to directly from the platform’s dashboard. These offer detailed recommendations on creating your online shop, scaling it, and all things in between. Moreover, you get access to a range of marketing tools that can be used to post promotional messages on Facebook and Twitter automatically. Plus, you can integrate links to categories and products and submit content to all channels in just a few clicks. However, it’s worth mentioning that Volusion’s starting package is a little costlier than Shopify’s at $35/month. That said, you get a free trial option, which allows you to take the platform for a drive before you get into a contract.
Most e-commerce platforms combine your orders, landing pages, and product listings together in one application, but 3dcart is capable of doing even more. It features an intuitive CRM that lists the contact info and transaction details of your customers, as well as rank individuals from your customer base. Customers can be organized into lists, which can then be used to set up targeted email campaigns based on their interests. Also, 3dcart enables users to create drip campaigns to follow up with prospects who added products to their cart but didn’t buy. These can also be used to upsell items to people who bought something from your store.
Other features of 3dcart equip you with unique capabilities for order management. For example, you can process returns, print shipping labels, and even attach shipping services via Amazon to streamline the delivery of your items. Require help with designing your store? 3dcart offers 24/7 chat and phone support. The best part? The pricing of the software starts at $10/month for a range of 10 products. Additionally, 3dcart offers a 15-day free trial without any credit-card commitments. However, the vendor places bandwidth restrictions depending on the plan the user selects. Also, some of its templates are just duplicates of one another with only minor color tweaks.
Wix is an e-commerce software that’s initially a site builder. You can use its drag and drop functionality and e-commerce theme to create an online store. It comes with all the features you need to run a successful e-commerce operation. Similar to Shopify, it allows you to get started without requiring any code. Users can literally drag and drop elements anywhere on their theme using Wix’s user-friendly editor. What’s excellent about Wix is that it has 500+ templates specially designed for online stores. Also, there are shopping cart features with all the functions a store owner needs. Moreover, the Wix app store has all the software a store owner requires to spruce up his/her website further.
Another benefit of Wix is that it is a fully hosted e-commerce solution, so you don’t have to worry about managing servers. However, you need to understand that it is not a pure play e-commerce solution. It is just a website builder that also allows you to sell things on the web. Hence, it’s e-commerce functionality is a bit limited. In addition, it is vital to note that the site template can’t be modified once you’ve published your online store, which is unlikely to go well with some merchants. As for the subscription to use its software, Wix offers a variety of packages. The paid packages will set you back $5 to $25 per month. Also, be required to choose at least one of the many e-commerce packages to leverage Wix’s e-commerce capabilities and plans for that begin from $17/month.
Over to You
Picking an e-commerce solution is not an easy feat. There are too many factors to take into considerations and multiple offers on the market. By knowing what your requirements are, and what features existing solutions offer, you’re more likely to identify a good fit from the list presented above. Hopefully, this guide will help you in your selection.