Trying to start an online-shopping business?

Then you know better than anyone else that formulating a start-up plan is just a “tip of the iceberg”.

When you decided on what to sell, to whom you sell, the countries in which you want to access new target markets and get to know your audience closer, it’s time you think about all the technical details.

It is then that you start choosing an e-commerce platform.

Have you already tried to google “best e-commerce platforms”? Have you seen the ocean of infinite variants: Shopify, Magento, WooComerce and BigCommerce, X-Cart and Zen Cart, OpenCart, and many more?

Stay afloat, nobody wants to be alone in this. We’ll give you a few firsthand tips, which helped push us towards this result one day.

5 things to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform

Last year they estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. Global e-retail sales amounted to $2.3 trillion and are projected to grow up to $4.48 trillion by 2021.

How can an e-commerce startup compete in the fierce environment?

1. Pricing

Maybe one of the first things you’ll consider while choosing a platform is pricing. If you are a start-up project, you’ll probably be watching for cheaper solutions to invest the money in advertising, staff, stock management, and other necessities. Being a well-known brick-and-mortar store moving to online commerce, still, you need to know the exact price of the expenditure price.

Practically all e-commerce platforms charge a monthly fee. Besides, the costs may vary based on the hosting service (self-hosted, hosted). Also, you need to consider the fees associated with your future platform (add-ons, plugins, extensions, and services). To get the best of your budget, you’ll need to weight all the platform pros and cons in advance (we promise to move in on this a little later).

2. Integration

Integration is another point after the price you should pay attention to. E-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify will have a wide range of extension choice. However, the main idea you should adhere to is (a) what additional functionality you’ll need for your store, (b) how many separate solutions meet the requirements and (c) how it will influence your budget.

Think about the main online shopping constituents, such as backend work, product, customers’ information management, navigation and frontend usability, check-out steps. These pillars can either boost your business income or ruin it at the start.

3. Mobile Friendliness

M-commerce is a leading direction of online shopping. The reasons are obvious:

  • the increasing number of mobile gadgets users;
  • the fact that most of the millennials don’t use PCs at all;
  • the distribution and improvement of Internet connection worldwide, free Wi-Fi spots;
  • the growing popularity of mobile payments, and more.

That’s exactly why you need to deal with it to compete. Your e-commerce platform should give customers a possibility to easily access your e-store and purchase products on their mobile devices.

4. Security

The point should most likely go first. However, we consider it as a factor for granted. Dealing with customers’ private data, you need to give a guarantee their personal information will remain so. Check to make sure your future e-commerce platform supports SSL to keep the most vulnerable checkout process secure. The platform should also be PCI compliant. Get to know about the number of security patches issued for the platform, whether they are regularly updated and shared for free. Besides, verify that the platform supports outer payment services.

5. Limitations

Ask any online business owners, and they’ll tell you the most difficult challenge in e-commerce is the platform’s limitations. If you want to keep your budget safe, calculate all the costs in advance. To make it for sure, compare the platforms technical characteristics. We’ll give you some food for thought in this regard below by comparing 3 most in-demand e-commerce platforms.

WooCommerce vs. Magento Open Source vs. PrestaShop [in short]

WooCommerce

This is a WordPress plugin, which means it’s a good solution in case you have installed WordPress (open source) on your host. The plugin will turn your WordPress website into a fully-fledged online store with all the inventory management, coupons, and product pages functionality.

Pros

  • It’s free to download and install;
  • The platform goes with the support of major payment gateways;
  • The WooCommerce theme needs no additional customization, unless, content;
  • Coupons, discounts, and multiple other features are available out-of-the-box.

Cons

  • The platform demands extra expenses on the WooCommerce theme, add-ons, hosting, domain name;
  • Its SEO, security, hosting, and caching settings can be confusing for a newbie.

Magento Open Source

Being one of the most popular e-commerce platforms, native Magento functionality offers even more features than you’ve expected. Magento community is always contributing to the functionality with new solutions, security patches, and fixes. Hundreds and thousands of free/ paid themes and extensions are available in the market.

Pros

  • The e-commerce platform is free;
  • The feature list is stunning;
  • Automated marketing is included, which means you are free to inform your customers about product alerts and manage promo activities;
  • Customization is welcomed, once you know how to work with the code.

Cons

  • Magento is pretty resource-hungry, which means you’ll probably need to invest money and efforts in the website optimization;
  • You’ll need a skilled developer who can make all the customizations.

PrestaShop

The platform is a relative newbie among other e-commerce platforms. However, when Magento is good for tech-savvy users, this one is great for newcomers. The interface is simple and intuitive, so it won’t take much experience to install and launch the plugin.

Pros

  • The solution offers a user-friendly interface and efficient inventory management;
  • It gives you a possibility to establish different websites for numerous languages and currencies in several clicks only;
  • The platform is lightweight, which evokes less slowing down and, thus, requires less optimization;
  • Multi-vendor support is included.

Cons

  • The scalability of the platform, in contrast to Magento, isn’t good. So, the platform is great for small and mid-sized businesses;
  • The functionality is limited and the add-ons are not cheap at all;
  • The default theme leaves much to be desired;
  • Marketing tools are poor in functionality.

To sum up

Choosing an appropriate e-commerce platform requires the exercise of judgment. The three open-source platforms described above are just a few of those possibilities one can consider. Only by following those 5 pieces of advice may not be enough for your case. So, feel free to dig deeper and view the full picture of the possibilities you get in the choice.

Author’s BIO: Alina is a technical writer at Amasty who is keen to e-commerce and implementation of new solutions into the sphere.