If you sell anything online, you either need a content management system that can also double up as an eCommerce platform, or a stand-alone product. eCommerce software is not only for large stores with thousands of products – even a small businesses with just a few products can save time with a good eCommerce system.
Before we look at some of the best eCommerce platforms on the market in 2017, consider what your business needs. Do you just need a way to process a sale, for which a basic shopping cart with payment portal will suffice, or do you need a system that includes stock management, label printing, invoicing and accounting? Here are our recommendations.
Magento is possibly the most famous of all eCommerce platforms today, thanks largely to it being an open source platform. It has been well developed and has a large, active user base that provides support. Magento is a very flexible platform that can be used by large retailers too.
Magento has many extensions that enhance the core features, such as the Nosto extension that provides visitor tracking and personal recommendations based on visitor behaviour.
Because Magento is Open Source, it is free to download, install and use. And while some themes and extensions are free, there is a growing number of high quality, premium themes and extensions.
Magento’s biggest downside is that it is a relatively complex platform with a steep learning curve, so if you are not very confident with computers, you either need to pick something more straightforward or outsource your eCommerce management.
CommerceHub is a cloud based service that provides easy scaling and good support. CommerceHub is more than your average retail software – it actually puts businesses in touch with suppliers who can fulfil orders through your website.
Because it is cloud based you can very quickly launch your online retail business, and the unique supplier management helps businesses grow rapidly. Some businesses use CommerceHub to test which products work best before moving to a self-hosted platform.
Drupal Commerce is a module that is installed alongside the Drupal CMS. Drupal, like most content management systems today, provides a wide range of modules (known as plugins on WordPress) that enhance a site. In some ways, Drupal is more of a framework for a website than the finished product.
Drupal Commerce allows users to create custom workflows, which can benefit business managers who are not familiar with working with eCommerce. It is also very versatile and can be configured to meet a business’ exact needs. However, Drupal is a complex system that requires a web developer.
Shopify is a pure retail management platform. It is a powerful platform that aims to meet the needs of all retailers, which is how it has become one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in use today, with over 100,000 businesses using their software.
Shopify allows bulk product uploads, which can great save time when starting a new website, and manages inventory, checkout and delivery well. There are also over 1,000 apps for Shopify, which means that it can be turned to just about any use. There are apps to help with your SEO and marketing, as well as social media integration apps. The biggest downside to Shopify is that it is now so huge that finding the best apps for your business can consume a lot of your time.
WordPress with WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a plugin that turns a WordPress blog site into an online retail portal. The biggest benefits of WooCommerce is that it is free (as it WordPress) and has a huge support network, which is responsible for creating hundreds of useful extensions. WooCommerce provides retail management for both physical and digital products, so can be very useful to businesses that are selling services, as well as those selling physical products.
Our web developer has been building WooCommerce sites for several years and can advise when if it is suitable for your business, or if something more powerful may be needed.
If you are planning to start selling online in 2017, call Freelance SEO Essex to make an appointment with our eCommerce experts.