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The Best eCommerce Platforms for Online Start-Ups

Selecting the best eCommerce platform is an integral part of your business. According to BigCommerce, 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life. This clearly shows us that the future of business is definitely eCommerce.

But before you choose your eCommerce platform, there are certain questions you need to know the answers to, as these will guide you to the succeeding steps in building your eCommerce empire.

What To Find in the Best Webstore Platform

The keyword here is USABILITY. For your website to succeed, it should not only look good but also provide a seamless user experience for visitors. This is why good usability is important. It will set your website apart from your competition. It is essential that you make it quick and easy for your users to navigate their way to your webstore.

There are multiple ways to improve your webstore’s usability–and that is to adopt the 10 essential characteristics of a user-friendly webstore. These are the following:

  1. Color Scheme: The right contrast between the background of the website and content is one of the most basic yet most important web design principles that should never be overlooked.
  2. Usable Forms: Forms are very useful for generating leads for a business.
  3. Mobile Compatibility: Ensuring that your platform is optimized for mobile use is a necessity.
  4. User Accessibility: Make sure your website can be accessed easily on screen readers, making your website available to a large audience.
  5. Well-Formatted Content: Applying the correct use of headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, bullets or lists help to break up text, making it easy for readers to scan.
  6. Fast Load Time: Making sure your website loads within 4-6 seconds is important for good usability. It also affects your search engine ranking.
  7. Browser Consistency: It is important to ensure your website appears and behaves consistently across all major browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.
  8. Effective Navigation: Try to limit the number of menu items as much as possible. A drop-down menu or sub-navigation may work better on a large site with sections and pages.
  9. Good Error Handling: Correct handling of errors at a code level ensures the website is robust and free from bugs.
  10. Clean Code and Valid Mark-Ups: A website that adheres to the relevant web design best practices and standards often are more robust and dependable.

In conclusion, find a webstore platform that allows you to possess all these 10 characteristics above.

How Do I Compare eCommerce Platforms?

Your decision on which among the three you should be using will depend on the two different ways in which eCommerce platforms offer a hosting environment for their customers.

  • Cloud: Hosted elsewhere
  • On-Premise: Self-hosted on your business premise

What to Consider When Comparing eCommerce Sites

1. Integration With Social Media

Advertising to social media users is a must if you want to capture a massive and engaged audience. Facebook alone boasts over 1.94 million active monthly users. You would need to think of many different ways to entice a lot of potential buyers.

2. The Number of Products You Sell

Maybe you offer a wide assortment of products, or perhaps a significant number of variants for your basic product line. This can add up to a lot of SKUs, and some platforms are better than others when it comes to SKU count. If you have a large catalog or plan to grow your business, choosing a platform with low SKU limits essentially restricts the upside of your business.

3. Customer Service the Platform Can Help You Provide

No matter how intuitive the design or straightforward the features, at some point, you may need assistance. And when that time comes, it’s good to know that you can get ahold of a real-life person to assist you with the problem.

What Is the Most Popular eCommerce Platform?

BigCommerce

Some of the pros that come with BigCommerce to consider when deciding which eCommerce business to choose are:

  • All-in-one solution
  • No transaction fees
  • Supports a variety of languages and currencies

However, like with all businesses, there are areas of improvement so, the following are some of the cons of BigCommerce:

  • Expensive themes
  • Annual sales threshold
  • Pricing

Shopify

These are the main pros and cons that we think you can expect to encounter if you choose Shopify.

Pros:

  • Impressive sales features
  • Supports multi-channel selling
  • Vast app marketplace

Cons:

  • Transaction fees
  • Switching templates = reformatting site
  • Doesn’t support international currency without third party apps

BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the most popular eCommerce software currently on the market.

Wix

Wix has grown to serve over 110 million users and counting. The following are some takeaways with things to keep in mind when choosing between all the eCommerce sites.

Pros:

  • Get started within a few minutes
  • User-friendly drag-and-drop website builder
  • Get a good range of features right away

Cons:

  • Can’t switch templates once the site is live
  • Lack of storage space
  • Customization possibilities are limited

Wix might be decent for a beginner, but you can quickly outgrow Wix. When it comes to eCommerce, relying on Wix might hold you back with the lack of important tools for selling online but it’s a good starting point for store owners just launching their business.

Magento

Here are the most important things to remember before you choose this platform:

Pros:

  • Flexible, since it’s an open-source platform
  • Abundance of features
  • A large community of users

Cons:

  • Pricing
  • Time-consuming with slow loading times
  • No personalized product support
  • Lack of free themes

Magento is also becoming as popular as the other two platforms mentioned above. As you can see in the pros and cons, there are also many disadvantages and advantages if you choose Magento.

Squarespace

If dropshipping is a major part of your business, Squarespace is not the option for you. Unlike many of the other platforms on our list, they do not have any options for dropshipping.

Pros:

  1. Over 70 impressive themes and theme customization
  2. Structured and simple drag and drop editor
  3. Mobile responsive

Cons:

  • No dropshipping
  • No app store – have to install third-party plugins

OpenCart

The advantages and disadvantages of OpenCart show that it’s a transparent and overall easy system to install. While it is free to use, you can maximize the potential of the platform with the use of premium extensions.

Pros:

  • Create multilingual shops
  • The simplicity of store management
  • An extensive amount of extensions

Cons:

  • Creation of several duplicate pages
  • Conflicting add-ons, plug-ins, and extensions
  • Difficult to import inventory lists

Overall there are some key pros and cons that should be considered before committing to this platform.

PrestaShop

Like all eCommerce platforms, PrestaShop does come with important pros and cons to consider when comparing services to their competitors.

Pros:

  • Community of support
  • Functionality and performance
  • Multiple languages and currencies

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Add-ons can become expensive
  • Upgrading versions means rebuilding all your code

PrestaShop is a freemium open-source, cloud-hosted eCommerce platform and can be used in 60 different languages and is popular outside of English-speaking countries

3DCart

The new drop shipping plan and extensive guide is definitely a pro but let’s look at some others and a couple of cons:

Pros:

  • Over 160 payment methods
  • Able to change themes anytime
  • Useful SEO features

Cons:

  • No mobile app available
  • Expensive pricing plans
  • Website Builder not user-friendly

3dcart disadvantages include a lack of a CDN, resulting in poor site uptime during high traffic volumes for stores and difficult to reach customer service. They also lack modern responsive themes. But they do include multilingual support and advanced shipping solutions – no API required.

Here are a few more honorable mentions of the best eCommerce platform for beginners and advanced users that are worth your attention.

  1. Volusion
  2. Demandware
  3. WooCommerce
  4. Kibo
  5. Big Cartel
  6. Ecwid
  7. Episerver

Final Thoughts

As this guide has shown you, we don’t exactly have a concrete answer on what exactly is the best eCommerce platform. Each startup must assess their business objectives first and determine what kind of platform they truly need.

Our hope is that this guide has provided you with enough information to critically decide on which platform is the best for your business. With the information above, which platform are you most interested in? And, what information in the guide did you find most helpful? Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance on setting up your eCommerce business.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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