Ecommerce Platform Considerations
When it comes to comparing ecommerce platforms, it pays to consider time, money, security and support. If you’re a small business doing long hours, you need something that doesn’t require you to spend mega-bucks or mega-hours on it. You need a fool-proof system with good structural and technical support and iron-clad security for online payments. Remember, what you can’t do in-house, you’ll have to pay to outsource, so be sure to factor in those costs.
Don’t waste money on a solution that doesn’t integrate seamlessly with your existing systems. Choose a platform that fits in and addresses your customers’ needs. Do you want your online inventory to update as you sell in-store? Do you have an active community that likes to share product reviews? Consider every strand of activity and make sure your chosen system can optimise each element.
Open-Source or Proprietary
As with most digital platforms, and ecommerce being no exception, you’ll hear a lot of talk about ‘open-source’ versus ‘proprietary’ (or closed-source) systems.
Open-source basically means that the project's source code is freely available for you to downloaded, install and modify/customise. Proprietary (or closed-source) means that you’re getting something a little more out of the box and ready to go. While the latter are often easier to setup and support, they often lack the flexibility your business may require, not to mention freedom to potentially move from one vendor to the next.
Here at Soul+Wolf, we help businesses find the right ecommerce platform for to meet their goals. We’ve worked with a lot of different systems and often favour open-source platforms for their bespoke and extensible nature. So here are our recommended favourites for you to consider.
The popularity of this user-"super friendly" ecommerce platform has grown significantly in recent years. As an ecommerce platform, it’s incredibly easy to use and setup out of the box and comes with a best-in-class level of customer support.
Despite the fact that it's a proprietary system, it's incredibly easy to work with from a development perspective and has a thriving marketplace where you can find almost any third-party application to facilitate a functional requirement. Coupled with Magento's growing complexity (and turbulent times touched on below), the level of quality assurance and built-in security features makes this a great platform to build and grow your business with.
Magento is by far, one of the most popular ecommerce platform in the world and, for us, the leading solution for businesses who want to scale a fully-fledged ecommerce powerhouse.
But Magento is not a budget option. It's not a quick project. It is a big, powerful, open-source platform that requires knowledge and experience, which is why we are a recognised Magento partner.
From a content perspective, it's not overly user-friendly or flexible. But what it does do well, second to none, is manage products, inventory and sales. Setup and customisation costs can be high, as can server and support costs, but it’s worth it for large businesses looking to scale their ecommerce performance.
WordPress & WooCommerce
If you’ve ever used the mightily popular WYSIWYG WordPress, WooCommerce is a free plugin that you can add to your WordPress site to start your ecommerce adventure. It’s a little clunky as it’s a "plugin", and WordPress isn’t an ecommerce platform per se, but if you have a small range of products to showcase, this can be a low-cost, low-intervention option, well serviced for SEO and pretty flexible, although regular updates are required.