Last week we looked in to the types of eCommerce platforms available to you; Hosted, Open Source and Hosted Shopping Cart. This week, we will look at the features of specific platforms to help you find your perfect match.
Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform that is favoured by small retailers and start-ups because of its ease of use. All the technical information that a self-hosted solution would require you to set up is already taken care of, so you really can hit the ground running. There is also 24/7 help on offer so you will never feel stuck.
Shopify has so many features, it is the closest to “all inclusive” that you will find on the market. Here are some of the things they offer:
- A responsive design, allowing your customers to shop on their mobile phone/tablet
- A variety of themes included, with the option to upgrade to premium or custom themes
- A User friendly CMS so you can control your content with ease
- They handle the hosting and the security
- Marketing tools such as SEO, discount code engine and email marketing
In summary, it is a very well rounded package for those with less technical experience. If you are a larger business, with a small or fledgling eCommerce team Shopify could still be for you; just be mindful of the costs. Monthly and transactional fees apply.
Pricing starts from $29 per month, allowing you to sell just 100 products. The most expensive plan, called unlimited is currently $179/month. On top of this monthly fee, there is a transaction fee of 1-2%.
Magento is one of the most popular open source e-commerce platforms available. It is free, powerful and scalable and has attracted major clients such as Nike and Paul Smith. Its popularity means that there are thousands of useful extensions available and even though there is no 24/7 help provided, you can head to forums to find the answers to most problems.
Here are some of the great features:
- It’s free to install
- It can be hosted anywhere
- Marketing functionality included
- Flexible features
Magento can be a little chaotic; there are lots of options and for some that can be a bad thing! It is a platform best suited to large retailers with in-house expertise and it certainly is not good for beginners. To address this gap in their offering, they now offer Magento Go, which is a hosted solution that includes support.
WooCommerce is a powerful eCommerce plugin that helps you to sell anything. It works off the back of the WordPress blogging platform so it is easy to install and easy to manage. There are also many “WooThemes” and other plugins for you to choose from. If you have a small range of products then this is the way forward. It has an easy to employ API which allows you to hook up any existing shipping, or order fulfillment systems that you have in place.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Great design and excellent user interface
- Top notch security
- Large database of themes and compatible extensions
- User guides, documentation and tutorials to help you along the way
If you are smart enough to create a WordPress site, there is no question that you could run your eCommerce shop through WooCommerce. In fact, you could probably have it up and running in a matter of hours! If you are a blogger using your content to drive sales, this plugin was made especially for you. If you are a larger scale operation, WooCommerce can still work for you, but it will need a lot of customisation.
Volusion is a great example of a hosted eCommerce platform. It integrates perfectly with Amazon.com if that is a channel you had considered using, and it has very strong security tools. It boasts an excellent back office that you can monitor from your mobile and has a great support network; you can access their live-chat facility 24/7.
Here are some of the other great features:
- Many free templates to choose from, premium and custom templates available for a fee
- Sell on your own site, plus Facebook and eBay
- Ample features teamed with a simple interface
- Marketing functionality – Incorporating emails, up-selling and cross-selling at the checkout stage
- No transaction fee
Volusion is easy to navigate and offers excellent customer service. Like Shopify, you can focus on running your online shop and they will take care of the technical details. Their server is renowned for having blips every now and again, but their support system is second-to-none. Volusion is perfectly suited to SMEs who are keen to explore other sales channels.
Pricing starts from just $15 per month, but to run a decent sized operation you are probably looking at a monthly fee of $135 which gets you the premium package.
When making your decision, you should have two considerations;your budget and your business (size, prospects, skill set etc..). Just because a platform was designed with a certain size operation in mind, if it meets the needs of your business that shouldn’t deter you from going ahead.
We can help you choose and configure your eCommerce platform. Get in touch for more information and advice.
19 May 2014 09:00