It’s a regular question that we get asked when we recommend an e-commerce platform to a client;
“Why [insert platform name here] e-commerce platform?”
Well, it all depends on what your requirements and needs are for your online store. It can be your products, your audience or marketing requirements. It needs to be carefully chosen so you don’t reach a ceiling to grow your business.
What is an E-Commerce Platform?
Most online stores are built using an e-commerce platform, it provides the skeleton, organisation and structure needed for the store to actually function. If we equate it to a car, the platform is the chassis on which it’s built and the fact it has four wheels and steering wheel. All the things that are the same from car to car. If you got into a car without wheels, it’s not really a car anymore.
To make your online store look different from everybody else’s, it’s a case of customising this platform to suit your needs and requirements. Plus making it look exactly how you want it to look in accordance with your brand.
Going back to the car analogy, this is the bodywork, the interior finishing and all those additional features that salesmen try to sell for extortionate prices. This process is what makes the car.
E-Commerce Platform Options
There are numerous platforms available to build your online store on however we are going to focus on the big hitters; WooCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop and Shopware.
Rather than a standalone e-commerce platform, WooCommerce is a plugin for the popular website platform WordPress.
This is probably the ideal solution if you want a small shop to sell goods alongside a service business or simply want to earn a little extra cash through an online store. It’s highly popular and can be used to produce some really excellent looking and functional online stores.
It’s a free plugin on the also free website platform WordPress, this is part of its popularity however to get any further or advanced functionality additional extensions have to be used and these are usually a small cost.
If you’re a start-up business looking for a cheap, easy to use and wide community support platforms to start your online store then WooCommerce is a good choice, however, if you are looking to really drive the business further forward in the long term then one of the many standalone platforms would probably be more ideal. Certainly, if you are working with numerous products and product categories.
Magento is widely considered the e-commerce platform powerhouse. It approximately holds around 26% of the market share of e-commerce stores on the web. Bought by eBay in 2014 and recently coming out with Magento 2 in 2016.
Magento is a highly flexible and customizable platform and is very well equipped to deal with large, high traffic stores with lots of products and categories. As an open source platform, meaning that it’s code is freely available to download and modify, has resulted in a huge support community and has also resulted in many developers creating extensions and plugins to expand the functionality of your store.
You may be asking yourself what the cons are; it’s a very difficult platform to work with and customising a store on Magento is not easy. Being able to update and manage the store yourself on a day to day basis without the assistance of a developer is not going to be easy and could cause many issues potentially resulting in downtime.
If your business is big enough to have a team of developers working for you keeping Magento stable and updated then it’s a good choice for an online store platform. If you’re looking for something more accessible keep reading….
PrestaShop is a great step up from a small store on WooCommerce. It is also much more accessible than Magento.
Another very flexible and customizable platform equipped for large stores with lots of products and categories. Its administrative panel is much more user-friendly to allow you as the store admin (and not a developer) to maintain the store effectively.
PrestaShop has a very large support and developer community who are willing to help if you are encountering issues. On top of this, the PrestaShop developer community has created a large Marketplace of modules, themes and extensions to allow you to create a store which functions exactly to your liking.
If you are looking to build and market your store worldwide, the PrestaShop platform is fully translated into numerous languages. PrestaShop is also a very SEO friendly platform which with a bit of work can allow you to drive more traffic and more purchases.
Unlike Magento which offer updates less frequently, PrestaShop is updating its platform all the time. We find that PrestaShop is the perfect balance to achieve a fully functioning, hard working and customizable store for your needs, while also being accessible to allow you to run your online store business.
Shopware provides a different level with its online shopping experience. The platform focuses on how a visitor interacts and experiences your online store. Conversion Optimisation is an important part of digital marketing in this modern age. This is the process of making your store easy to use and follow a particular pathway so that they make a purchase on your store. This is what ShopWare is all about.
If you are looking for an easy to use e-commerce platform which is easily editable by both a developer and user then Shopware might well be the system for you. It creates a fully immersive e-commerce shopping experience with features such as “Story Telling” which can give the user valuable information about the product or range of products in a nice graphic feature.
Shopware is ideally suited to e-commerce store focusing on high traffic, conversion focussed online stores. If you have lots of information about your product you need to get across to a buyer before they purchase or you have a very visual product which is best sold through graphics and multimedia the ShopWare platform allows you to really exploit this, without the usual development work that would be required.
If you are looking at starting an online store or thinking about changing to a more suitable e-commerce platform then contact us today and we will help guide you to the solution best suited to your business.