eCommerce Platforms Part 1 – Which type is best for your business?

The variety of eCommerce software available means there is something out there to suit each and every business. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of options, and the subtleties in difference between some of the products.

To get started we are going to discuss the 3 types of platform on offer; Hosted, Open Source and Hosted Shopping Cart. By highlighting the main features, benefits and limitations of platforms in these categories, you should be able to deduce which category is going to suit your business the best. The right platform will give you all the tools you need to grow your business, whilst taking care of the behind the scenes technical tasks that can often hold us back.

Hosted eCommerce Platforms

This type of platform allows you to manage your shop from one place; it includes web hosting, use of their eCommerce system and support from their team. This is because you pay them a fee, typically monthly or yearly in order to host your site with them.

Positives
Hosting/eCommerce support available
Technical details taken care of, well suited to beginners
Everything located in one place so it is easier to manage
Marketing features often available at the click of a button

Negatives
The monthly/yearly fee
The transaction fees
You cannot choose your host
Customisation can be tricky

Ideal for: Those who are less technical yet need an online presence. By providing support for the more technical aspects, users will find it is relatively simple and easy to get going.

Open Source Platforms

These platforms are downloaded and installed and are more often than not free. You can host them anywhere you choose and they are renowned for their scalability.

Positives
Free!
Very popular, they are used by global giants including Nike
These platforms can certainly handle large amounts of traffic
SEO friendly and some of the optimisation work is automatically done for you

Negatives
Limited support available. Forums rather than live online help
Not suitable for beginners
The size of the application can cause issues, you may need to consider a specialist host

Ideal for: Large business with a large database of products. A smaller business could certainly benefit from the lower costs but the help of a designer/developer will be required.

Hosted Shopping Cart

These platforms are very similar to the hosted eCommerce platforms; as the name suggests they only host the shopping cart/checkout process for you. You select the host and CMS of your choice.

Positives
Flexibility to use the CMS (Content management system) and host that suits your needs
They handle the security details as they process payments
Cheaper than eCommerce hosting

Negatives
Some technical knowledge, at least basic HTML would be recommended
Some charge monthly and transactional fees

Ideal for: These platforms are suitable for small and large businesses; they are extremely flexible but require some technical knowledge to make the most out of them.

So which platform is best for your business? Keep an eye out for Part 2 where we will discuss specific platforms in more detail.

We can help you choose and configure your eCommerce platform. Get in touch for more information and advice.

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