Choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business
Nikita Tilsley May 26th 2022 - 3 minute read
eCommerce platforms generally exist to coordinate the functions of customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, mobile commerce, web design and warehouse fulfilment, in one place.
While many business owners tend to choose their platform based upon ‘skin-deep’ issues like design, UX branding and content, the real value of an eCommerce platform is its ability to streamline business processes, customer engagement and lead generation.
Aside from these functions, the best platform for your business is the one that facilitates your business goals, whether they be an increase in revenue, improving customer engagement or entering a new market.
Different kinds of sales platform:
In terms of product type, there are 5 different kinds of eCommerce platform:
- Build-your-own platforms require development from scratch, either yourself or via a contractor. This option has diminished in popularity but may suit businesses with a very niche set of requirements that cannot be met by a commercial eCommerce platform.
- Traditional platforms require the upfront payment of a license fee, which is renewed annually. You will need expertise in IT – or a team with IT skills – to build and customise the platform, then install it either on-premise or into the cloud.
- Open-source platforms are similar to traditional platforms, but don’t incur an upfront cost – instead, users pay for initial development, implementation, ongoing development, upgrades and migration.
- Cloud platforms are hosted in the cloud, or are bolted onto a hosting system; often, they still require maintenance and the installation of upgrades, similar to traditional and open-source platforms.
- Finally, SaaS platforms are generally built on a single codebase. Everyone who uses an eCommerce SaaS platform experiences the same technology for a fixed monthly fee that includes server use, maintenance, security and upgrades, often via a subscription package.
Key considerations when choosing a platform
As mentioned above, the best platform for your business will be the one that allows you to achieve your goals. However, there are additional considerations you will need to make before committing to a decision.
A big consideration is cost. While the initial build and development costs are obvious, other costs to bear in mind include technical maintenance, upgrades and additional features based on user trends and behaviour.
Another consideration is capability – the platform must have the features necessary to deliver on your goals. If your end goal is to reach a wider audience, for example, SEO and mobile friendliness will be important.
The features available will depend upon the vendor’s experience and expertise. Take the time to research via reviews and forums.
Finally, make sure to prioritise the user experience (UX). A platform that is intuitive and user-friendly is likely to have a better conversion rate, as potential customers won’t be offput by confusing site features.
Recommended eCommerce platforms in 2022
Leading eCommerce platform ‘Shopify’, recommends eleven other platform vendors for businesses in 2022, reiterating that ‘the best platform comes down to your unique business model and growth plan.’
Shopify itself is an SaaS platform which prides itself on its easy, all-in-one eCommerce store building functionality.
The platform comes with complementary tools and features for multichannel selling and drop shipping, and processes payments with low transaction fees; it also offers unlimited bandwidth and online storage, so you don’t need to pay more as you get more traffic and grow your business.
For bigger businesses, Shopify recommends BigCommerce – like Shopify, it’s an SaaS platform that is fully hosted and offers international selling capabilities, SEO tools and multichannel sales. BigCommerce also boasts multiple payment options with no transaction fees.
As with Shopify and other SaaS platforms, however, customisation options are limited.
An alternative is Adobe Commerce, recommended for businesses with programming experience.
Formerly known as Magento, Adobe Commerce is a non-hosted ecommerce platform that doesn’t require an upfront fee. Unlike Shopify and BigCommerce, it allows greater customisation due to the fact it is built on your own server.
However, as the setup is your responsibility, you will need to build the site, set up the server and store all data yourself. Setting up the server is generally the main expense, although you may need to pay a premium for technical support.
Which is best for me?
With an expanding array of options to choose from, competition is fierce between platforms to offer the most modern and tech-savvy solutions.
Fortunately, this means providers are constantly levelling up to give buyers and sellers the best possible experience – so whichever platform you opt for, you’re likely to find that the service improves over time.
Nevertheless, before settling on a platform, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need to get up and running quickly?
- Do you need 24/7 technical support?
- Do you have plans to expand in the future?
Your answers will likely give you an idea of whether a hosted or non-hosted platform is right for you.