You finally decided to launch an online version of your brick-and-mortar store. Congratulations! Now that you’ve decided to take the leap into the world of digital selling, the next big decision you must make is figuring out which e-commerce platform is right for your company.
Once you start researching the variety of e-commerce platforms out there, you’ll see that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution – nor should you be looking for one. Each platform has its own set of strengths and weaknesses depending on what sort of functionality you’d like your website to have. Here is a list of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market today (many of which we use), along with why you might want to consider using each for your new e-commerce store, based on my experience as a founder and CEO of an SEO marketing agency.
Magento is one of the most flexible and full-featured e-commerce software platforms available on the market, and it works for just about any type of business. Since it’s open-source software, you can use it right out of the box, with slight tweaks or completely tailored to your needs. This software offers endless amounts of customizations through plugins and extensions, or your team could develop customizations in-house. Magento connectors can sync data with other systems too, allowing you to fully integrate it into your business and marketing operations. You can also choose between the free (and more popular) Magento Community version, or Magento Enterprise, which caters to large online businesses.
Formerly known as Pixafy, Zoey is a strong addition to the market. Its platform is built on a Magento backbone, but offers many enhancements. Zoey hosts websites and provides support, while also throwing in extras like pre-installed extensions that can easily be turned on or off according to your needs. It also boasts a user-friendly design panel, allowing you to apply basic styles to pre-installed themes without needing much of a technical background. It’s similar to designing e-mails using templates in a system like MailChimp or Constant Contact. For those that want a Magento site without having to worry about extension compatibility and security updates, Zoey is a great fit.
X-Cart is also an open source, flexible platform. In 2016 the X-Cart team released a new and improved version 5. With X-Cart, you can bring your own resources to bear or you can use hosting and development services provided by the X-Cart team. The latest versions of X-Cart offer easy upgrades as new features and security updates are released and better testing of third party plugins, helping to ensure a more stable experience for merchants.
WooCommerce is a free, open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress websites. This means that you will need to create a website in WordPress and then add WooCommerce to that website. WooCommerce was named the best WordPress shopping cart plugin by Business News Daily. While it’s not as robust as Magento and doesn’t have as many plugins and add-ons available, it’s a great fit for businesses who want the power of WordPress to serve their main business needs, with e-commerce as a secondary need.
Prestashop is very popular in Europe and has continued to push into the American market in recent years, with a sizable team in Miami. Prestashop offers both a simplified hosted version that you rent and an open-source version that you can customize to a higher degree. They do offer paid support plans for those who need help with more website development.
Shopify was originally best known among do-it-yourself business owners that wanted to create their own e-commerce websites with less coding and fewer technical skills required. As Shopify has continued to grow, they’ve released Shopify Plus, which includes dedicated support, some extra bells and whistles, and additional bundled services from some of the industry’s best technology providers.
VTEX focuses on helping medium and large organizations navigate the world of e-commerce by offering a feature-rich experience, including advanced components such as a CRM. VTEX is hosted on Amazon’s cloud with core enhancements being added to the platform on a daily basis. Be sure to see their quick checkout system, which allows return shoppers to purchase securely without entering a password.
For B2B organizations, such as wholesalers and distributors, most e-commerce software will need significant customization out-of-the-box. OroCommerce has been developed to address additional needs, such as contract pricing, configurable payment term levels, personalized catalogs and a configurable order submission process. While it’s currently only in Alpha testing, you can try the demo and sign up for their newsletter to be notified once it becomes available to use.
Miva is a hosted e-commerce platform solution for both small retailers and enterprise-level e-commerce businesses. Miva is a feature-rich, easy-to-use system and doesn’t require a lot of work up front to get your new website up and running. It’s been around since 1997 and is still a privately held company, which demonstrates its experience and maneuverability. While Miva hosts your site and provides direct support, you still get full hosting access to customize as needed, including frontend designs and backend modules. It’s great for businesses that want reliability with less fuss.
3Dcart is a fully hosted e-commerce shopping cart solution that provides all the features you’ll need to build and run an online store. Most features are built directly into the software, which makes getting your online store up and running relatively easy and painless. In many ways, 3Dcart is similar to other hosted e-commerce platforms, although it does provide FTP access, giving more freedom to work with frontend design files.
BigCommerce has continued to evolve, adding more features out-of-the-box, making it easier for business owners to create and market their online stores. Like Shopify and 3Dcart, BigCommerce is a hosted solution, providing hosting, technical support, and automatic software updates. BigCommerce merchants appreciate their flat monthly fees, rather than paying additional fees based upon sales or traffic.
Shuup is a newer, more modern open source e-commerce system. Having only been released to the public in June 2016, they’ve been growing quickly. Shuup’s goal is to make enterprise quality e-commerce more available to a wider range of merchants.
This list is just a basic overview of some of the most popular e-commerce solutions out there. There are others, like NetSuite, OpenCart, ZenCart, osCommerce, CS-Cart, ScaleFast, UniteU, Demandware, Hybris, NCR Retail Online, Volusion, ECWID, Mozu, and so on. Before choosing a platform, make sure to do additional research and read online reviews. If you have developers on your staff, ask them which platforms they’ve used. Many of these solutions offer free trials or online demos, which will give you the opportunity to experience the platform’s functionality firsthand before investing in a final product.