eCommerce has boomed over the past year with many people shifting their business online or deciding to pursue their passion and launch their own online store. For many first-time business owners there are many aspects of this world that may be unfamiliar, and it can be hard to know where to begin. Establishing which eCommerce platform is right for your business is such an important part of this, and so is a great place to start.
Through 2019 almost £200 billion of sales were logged through eCommerce systems. At this time online sales accounted for 16.5% of the UK’s total yearly business turnover. By the middle of 2020, with national lockdowns in place that figure rose to 30.7% of all sales.
The number of eCommerce platforms available is growing by the day, but today we are looking at three market leaders, Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce (an eCommerce plugin for WordPress).
We’ve selected these three, because they:
– Are widely available
– Offer a range of affordable pricing options (some are free)
– Are established eCommerce market leaders
How do these eCommerce platforms work?
Ecommerce platforms, including each of the three big players, enable you to sell products online direct to your customers. Offering the ability to:
– Upload and sell your products – adding pricing, descriptions, imagery and/or video as well as availability
– Manage inventory – you can keep track of what’s for sale and what’s out of stock
– Control shipping – core to any successful eCommerce site is clearly stating how quickly you can get a product to a customer – linking in with logistics companies, offering next day delivery upgrades etc.
– Market your business – whether it’s integrating with Google Shopping or eBay, as well as cart abandonment and email newsletters (with some solutions)
– Security and payment processing – putting your customers at ease with a choice of payment solutions, whether it’s securely taking card payments, integrating PayPal or Interest Free Credit payment option
– Reporting – this isn’t included with all solutions, but hopefully if you have Google Analytics set up correctly, you’ll have plenty of insight to keep evolving your website.
You could choose to forego a platform such as this and design your own eCommerce website from the ground up, but when it comes to cost effectiveness, this is simply not practical for some.
So, let’s look at the top three eCommerce platforms in more detail…
Shopify – the fast setup, all-in-one eCommerce platform that grows with you
If you need a solution fast, but also one that you can expand and grow – this is an eCommerce solution worth considering.
Based in Canada, Shopify was founded in 2006 but flash-forward 15 years and today there are now over 1.7 million businesses using the Shopify platform in 175 countries.
The platform prides itself on its usability and you can create an operational store in as little as 15 minutes. The design stage features drag-and-drop functionality ensuring an intuitive experience for those toiling away on their project. In fact, there is very little in the way of roadblocks, after all, Shopify was created to avoid aspects of platform building like coding and this is reflected in the user interface (UI
In addition to its core function as an online store, Shopify has some handy features to reduce the workload even further. Its ability to calculate real-time shipping details for orders both local and internationally is just one such example.
If you are already operating, Shopify features integrations with most major social networks and WordPress websites to ease the transition of your eCommerce features. You will also have a host of SEO features available to boost your rankings in Google search results.
How much does Shopify cost?
For all new users a 14-day free trial is available, beyond this there are three options:
– Basic Shopify (to get you started)
– Advanced Shopify
Basic Shopify starts with the price point of £21 per month and includes all the features a start-up business needs to start selling, including sales channels, discount codes, and even 77% discount on shipping rates to name just a few.
However, you’ll need the mid-level “Shopify” solution to get “standard” reporting – which is highly advantageous in understanding what’s working and what isn’t on your eCommerce website (including your marketing).
In addition to the monthly costs, there are also payment processing fees to consider, which you can find out more about on the Shopify price comparison page.
WooCommerce – the market leading, flexible eCommerce solution
An easy to use, quick to setup and free (out of the box) eCommerce solution that integrates into your website – perfect for those looking for flexibility in design and more custom functionality.
Launched in 2008 as WooThemes before shifting to eCommerce in 2011. WooCommerce is unique in that it offers a full eCommerce platform but neatly packaged up as a WordPress plug-in.
The core benefit of this approach is that anyone already operating with a WordPress website can easily integrate WooCommerce and begin selling almost instantly.
Thanks to its easy to install nature ,WooCommerce is the largest eCommerce operator on the market with over 5 million websites. Like much of WordPress, this platform is open source which enables a deeper level of personalisation than alternatives, helpful when creating a look that is truly unique to your business.
Simple to use, easy to install, and at its core… free. Yes, as a WordPress plugin you can create and operate a basic online store completely free of charge, with thousands of themes and additional extensions to add to the experience. However, there are some paid plugins available from WooCommerce which add more advanced features to your shop.
Although customer support is limited, as an open-source plugin there is a significant online community dedicated to tinkering with the coding behind the platform. Meaning if you have an issue, you can raise an issue online, and find someone to help solve whatever may have caused a hitch.
How much does WooCommerce cost?
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce platform.
The only consideration when choosing to use WooCommerce is that unlike Shopify or Magento the service relies on you having your own WordPress website up and running. WordPress itself is also free, but there are other costs that you would incur, including website hosting, SSL certificate and a theme (this is the design of your website), all of which are requirements.
Magento – the enterprise open source eCommerce solution
Magento is a comprehensive and advanced, enterprise eCommerce solution – but it does require technical knowledge to get going.
Owned and operated by tech giant Adobe, Magento Open Source is currently the third-largest eCommerce platform on the market behind Shopify and WooCommerce but boasts an array of unique functions which makes them an attractive option for some.
In terms of pure functionality Magento is one of the most advanced platforms on the market, making it an “enterprise” level solution, perfect for bigger brands or retailers with thousands of products. Unfortunately, because it’s so comprehensive, it’s also the most resource intensive for you to manage. It’s primarily utilised by larger businesses and those with dedicated web developers, this platform requires some technical knowledge of computer coding.
But first, let’s look at why Magento is considered to be the most advanced offering:
– Inventory management and cataloguing can be operated from within the platform.
– Integrated checkout and payments – offering a wide variety of solutions, from interest free credit payment plans, to on-site card payments and PayPal
– Global selling – including multiple currencies and international delivery
– Shipping management
– Full site search
– A whole host of additional functionality via their App Marketplace.
Unlike Shopify, which creates a storefront for you, Magento can be added to the majority of hosting platforms of your choice. Although the company does offer its own hosting service you can save costs by integrating it into your own.
How much does Magento cost?
Magento is a free, stand-alone, open-source eCommerce platform.
However, like WooCommerce, you’ll need more than a download of the solution to get you started. There’s a lot of considerations, and additional costs, especially with such an enterprise platform. As well as your website hosting and SSL certificate you may also need to factor in design and build of your website, payment processors and any additional apps you may need (these can be quite pricey).
They also have a more comprehensive solution called Magento Commerce, an all-encompassing platform with pricing started at around £16,000 per year. You can easily compare the paid-for vs open source versions of Magento here.
Which eCommerce platform is best suited for you?
All three options have their unique selling points and all three will get your business operating with a slick interface for your customers, and sell products.
However, the state of your business as it stands is likely to influence any decision. For example:
– Shopify is best for a quick start, or for new retailer businesses
– WooCommerce for those already on WordPress or that want flexibility
– Large retailer with good tech support? Try Magento Commerce or Magento Open Source
Security on all three platforms is of paramount importance. Shopify handles all security measures for you while both WooCommerce and Magento will require you to arrange your own SSL certificates.
However, with both WooCommerce and Magento offering free solutions and Shopify’s 14-day free trial the best way would be to explore each option personally and see which fits best in your company.
Ultimately, the decision of which eCommerce platform to use is unique to every business and will likely be based on a number of different factors, but we can take away one worry for you: DivideBuy’s payment solution can integrate seamlessly with Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento and so, which ever platform you choose, you’ll be able to offer your customers an Interest Free Credit Payment solution that suits their needs.