If you’re making a jump into the world of ecommerce for the first time, your head must be spinning from all the options out there. It’s brave enough moving away from Etsy or Ebay or wherever else you might have sold your products up till now – now it’s time to make some decisions!
The first choice you’ll have to face before opening the doors to your online store is which ecommerce platform to go with.
There are many factors you’ll want to consider:
- Ease of use
- Customisation options
- Whether you have a blog or not
- And others, that will be particular to your business
In my work at Speedbird Media I help entrepreneurs start and grow their ecommerce businesses – from building their websites to growing their traffic and sales. I have helped them deal with the issues which are common with any new store and have seen how the choice of ecommerce platform makes or breaks them.
So I’m here to help you avoid some costly mistakes!
Let me start with the ecommerce platforms I definitely do NOT recommend.. I won’t go into detail because I know both of them have many fans but please, save yourself some time and don’t build your product-based business on Squarespace or Wix.
Neither of those platfoms was designed for ecommerce, and although it might be tempting to go with the cheap and seemingly easy option, resist. Narrow down your choice to platforms which are actually created for selling online. That leaves you with three main runners:
- Big Commerce
If you already have an existing WordPress website or blog running, and now want to be able to sell straight from your site – Woocommerce is your best bet.
I love working with Woocommerce because – like WordPress itself – it has literally no limits. Any functionality or design can be achieved with either a plugin or some tweaks and sky is the limit in terms what the store should look like or what it should do. The downside is – you will probably need a developer to set it all up if you’re not particularly techy.
To make Woocommerce work you will need to connect it with a payment gateway like Paypal or Stripe and they will take a cut out of your every transaction. On the plus side, though – Woocommerce itself is completely free.
You can – and many people do – set up a Shopify store and have it up and running in one weekend. It is very easy to operate and you definitely don’t need a degree in IT to do it. Shopify was created for selling online and is currently the market leader for all ecommerce.
Shopify handles everything for you – hosting, SSL certificate, payment gateway and it’s super easy to set it all up. What it doesn’t do out of the box can usually be achieved with an additional app. But this is what really annoys me about Shopify – if you want it to do anything other than the absolute basics (and you’re going to want to, if you’re in the ecommerce business to actually make money) – you will have to get some apps. And those cost extra.
When the basic Shopify monthly subscription costs $29, if you add several apps which are all needed, your cost will could easily go up to closer to $60 a month.
There are about 50 templates to choose from and most of them are nice looking and with good UX. But if you want to make the design look a little more unique (and not like a template), then you’ll have to play with code. And not just any code, it’s Shopify’s unique Liquid code and it’s not for the faint hearted.
Shopify and Big Commerce are actually very similar in all of their capabilities and they also have very similar pricing. So, if you’re choosing between these two, the decision definitely shouldn’t be based on cost. Big Commerce has better SEO and offers a lot of the functions which Shopify can only do with an app, straight out of the box.
But – it is much more complex to set up and run because it is created for – as the name suggests – BIG shops. If you have a store with a lot of SKU’s, Big Commerce might be your best option. If you’re only starting out or planning to operate via dropshipping, I would recommend you stick with Shopify.
Which one is the best out of those three? My favourite is Shopify and I would recommend it to most business owners wanting to open a product-based online store.
Do you already run an ecommerce business? Which ecommerce platform have you gone with and would you recommend it?
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