These days, more and more people are setting up businesses online. And it’s easy to see why. With the global pandemic, much of our shopping is being done on the internet – and research shows these patterns are showing no sign of slowing down. In other words, this could be the perfect time to launch your e-commerce venture. But which platform should you choose?
In the past, new online businesses would simply build a website and hope for the best. But now, there are a vast array of e-commerce platforms available, each offering everything you need to make sales, take payments and fulfil orders. However, they all promise something slightly different, tailored to cater for varied businesses. So the first step should be to identify exactly what you’re looking for in your chosen platform. Do you, for example, need a fully hosted site complete with all the bells and whistles? Or would you like something a little more open source?
Once you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to compare platforms and see which one is right for you. Here are some of the most popular:
Probably the world’s most popular e-commerce platform, Shopify has plenty going for it. Competitively priced, it offers multiple options so you can sell through a dedicated online store or via social media and third-party marketplaces. The platform also offers a suite of business tools, helping you manage everything from payment to order fulfillment.
Another popular choice, Wix is known for its user-friendly design – ideal for those who are not all that tech-savvy. With its drag-and-drop format, this platform makes it simple to create your own free website – although you’ll need to pay to upgrade this to an online store. With basic business tools, it’s good for those getting started, although it’s not really equipped to deal with large inventories of products.
On the other end of the spectrum, Magento is designed for those who already have some degree of tech know-how and want a platform that they can customise. If you’ve got basic coding and development skills, it’s a great choice, as it allows you to take total control of your e-commerce store.
If you’re already familiar with WordPress, chances are you’ll have heard of WooCommerce, which essentially functions as an add-on to the ubiquitous content management system. As an e-commerce platform, it offers somewhat basic functionality, with the option to add on apps for more features. Like Shopify, it’s competitively priced, making it a good choice for those who already use WordPress or anyone looking for a simple way to build an online store.
Like Wix, Squarespace is essentially a website builder with the option to add an online store. Again, it utilises a drag-and-drop format that’s great for those with minimal technical know-how, and the e-commerce options are also pretty easy to get your head around. Once set up, you can choose a payment plan depending on the features that you need – meaning you won’t have to pay for something that you won’t use.