Internet is an ‘umbrella term’ in the contemporary world and its all-encompassing nature has squeezed the world into our smartphones, palmtop, tablet and other mobile devices. In this hectic world people have severe time shortage and they are more comfortable in indulging in simple pleasures like shopping sitting in the coziness of their home. They do not want to venture outside for purchasing grocery items also. They desire every possible thing at the click of a mouse or button.
This very demand of the customers have been met with the advent of ecommerce. Ecommerce or electronic commerce in very simplistic term means doing business in products and services via computer network like the internet. For doing electronic commerce the businesses requires websites or online stores. There are a wide variety of choices but in reality most of them do not exercise their choices and end up hiring a designer and a Web developer. But there are many enthusiastic and resolute entrepreneurs who are interested in managing their own ecommerce site themselves.
This precise requirement is fulfilled by the ecommerce platforms. The ecommerce platforms assist sellers to build a completely functional store both economically and quickly. If a seller wants to convert his offline business into an online one then ecommerce platform is a necessary tool for them. These platforms are a huge help especially for the small ecommerce business owners.
When it comes to the ecommerce platforms there are two major categories- hosted and self-hosted. The meaning of hosted means that the company will do the hosting of the online store and self- hosted means that the company will provide the software but the owners of the online store will have to get their own hosting done. The hosted platforms also offers dedicated tech support but this facility comes in lieu of a monthly payment by the clients.
The market for the ecommerce platform is huge and there are many companies functioning in this sector. Some platforms are simple to handle and there are others which are more complicated. But for the starters, there are certain issues they must consider before finally selecting a platform:
- Kind of Goods: This is the most important question to ask. What is the kind of goods you are selling? Is it digital or physical? When it comes to the shipping cost it makes a lot of difference. Always go for a platform that is suitable for your products.
- Size of the Stock: Never take the size of your stock lightly. Many platforms offer custom-made stock room functions in order to calculate when one in and out of stock of certain products and will also send remainders when one is running low also. Choose a platform that demands smallest amount of money for the services they render.
- Compensation Plan: Try not to select a platform that will exceed your budget. Go for the platforms that accepts monthly payments. Avoid those platforms which demands percentage of a sale from the clients.
- Process of Payment: PayPal is the most stress-free and popular payment processor but if one is not happy with it then they have to search for alternative arrangements as there are many ecommerce platforms that are not in favor of any third party payment processors.
- Self-hosted or Hosted: Hosted platforms are those that offer to do the hosting of the online store but the self-hosted ones offer the software but the hosting part needs to be tackled by the owner of the online store. The hosted platforms also offer tech support facility but one needs to pay for this service. For the beginners hosted platforms are better option.
Now, there are many ecommerce platform available but the major ecommerce platforms that are utilized by the businesses are as follows:
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platform. They have their exclusive team of experts who help innumerable online retailers to create their online store. Its user interface of the admin panel is fantastic. It has some of the most attractive add-on apps. One can download and install these in their store and this presents new functionality. If the online store owner uses their credit card processor, then they will pay the customary 2.9 percent plus the 30 cent rate. Shopify assists the online sellers to manage all facets of their shop like uploading products, altering the design, accepting the credit card orders, viewing incoming orders and also the concluded transactions.
No doubt Shopify is one of the favorite ecommerce platforms of the sellers who desire to go online. In spite of all the positives its single biggest drawback is:
- Its limitations of changing the checkout page.
Volusion claims that it is an easy and inexpensive way for the businesses to sell products and services online. One can get Volusion for a very low rate, just $15 per month. Volusion as a platform is backed by professional design, marketing services, business tools and responsive support by the actual Volusion experts.
Volusion as a platform certainly offers many benefits. But on the other hand it is plagued by many negatives and those are as follows:
- This platform is not that customizable and is pretty rigid. The complete website is created by utilizing a single template file.
- One also cannot recover basic information about the store, products, cart content which can are crucial. But their tech support is responsive.
Bigcommerce is more or less similar to Shopify and Volusion .Its user interface of the admin panel is hassle free to navigate. It concentrates on a number of aspects like building the website, marketing the products and services, safeguarding the transactions and many more.
Bigcommerce as an ecommerce platform that satisfies many requirement of the clients. But the major loophole of this great platform is that:
- Bigcommerce can be personalized only slightly in comparison to Shopify and Volusion.
Magento is another ecommerce platform which is trusted and utilized by many well-reputed brands. It is also cheap, its support is absolutely fantastic and it is feature-rich. Since this platform is owned by eBay, the ecommerce businesses can sell on eBay and also on their own store.
Magento is there in the business for many years now and it is utilized by many ecommerce websites. But it has few weakness and those are:
- It has many features no doubt but its user interface is not in the least user friendly.
- Another downside is that it is a slow and slothful platform.
WooCommerce is a platform that cannot be compared with the others. This particular platform is perfect for those who desire customizability. Since the resources available is limitless, one can access countless themes and plugins. As WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, one can get all the things that are available with WordPress.
In spite of so many positives WooCommerce has its own shortcoming. The precise reason of it is:
- It is a WordPress plugin so it is very much dependent on WordPress. WooCommerce cannot be used devoid of WordPress.
All the above ecommerce platforms definitely help in setting up an ecommerce online store but all the platforms have their inherent disadvantages that can adversely affect the online store. There are rumors in the market that a brand new platform called CartFace for the online ecommerce store will be launched soon and it will take care of all the disadvantages of the well-known platforms.
There are many ecommerce platforms assures complete support in setting up the online ecommerce business. One should select a platform that will satisfy all their ecommerce requirements and will meet their budgetary limits. Majority of the platforms offer consultations and this serves well for the prospective clients. Free of cost trails are also available so try out few of them before taking a final decision.