Since the rise of eCommerce, many different selling platforms have come to the fore, but which is best for your business? If you’re a small business migrating to the web from a bricks-and-mortar store or setting up a website for the first time, the choice of an eCommerce platform can be daunting.
With so many new providers entering the mainstream, it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and money. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of three of the most popular eCommerce sites —– as well as the pros and cons of each.
Shopify is one of the largest and best-known eCommerce platforms in the world. A tremendous amount of commerce happens on Shopify, with more than $46 billion sold on the eCommerce platform. It has also been around for more than a decade. As such, it offers a variety of powerful eCommerce tools for large businesses while also offering scale down options for small businesses and individual sellers.
- Highly customizable: you can make your store look exactly the way you’d like.
- Flexibility: It’s easy to fully customize your online store and manage your products and inventory according to your needs. There is also a Shopify app, meaning you can keep track of your store anywhere at any time.
- Community: the platform has a thriving community where shop owners share tips and knowledge
- Support: As well as a supportive online community and active forum, there is 24/7 technical support available to users.
- Ease of use: Shopify is very easy to use, and it’s relatively simple to install plugins. Shopify is also easy to customize if you have some coding knowledge.
- Price: While Shopify is one of the most customizable platforms you can find for eCommerce, it does come at a price. In addition to the monthly fee, many of Shopify’s best themes come at a cost, though there are some free ones available. Plans typically range from $9/month to $299/month for Advanced Shopify and ShopifyPlus. These are designed for high-volume merchants, so you could argue that the investment is worth the price. What’s more, there are free and paid themes, so it can work for different budgets.
Is Shopify right for your business?
If you want more freedom to customize, you should go with Shopify. Even the free themes provide options for customizing how your store looks, and tech-savvy entrepreneurs can even use HTML and CSS to customize the finer details.
However, if you want your business to stand out on a saturated platform, this will come at a cost. Some Shopify themes cost nearly $200, on top of the monthly fee you already pay.
Magento is an Adobe company, and their platform is very similar to both Shopify and BigCommerce. There are plenty of free themes as well as paid alternatives. However, Magento requires more technical knowledge than Shopify.
- Free version: Magento offers a free version that is suitable for many small businesses. This can be a big draw, as it will save small businesses a lot of money when they are developing their online store. There is also an enterprise option for large businesses.
- High-profile brands: Magento has some high-profile customers, Marie Claire, the clothing boutique, for example.
- Price: Magento is technically free to use, but users will have to pay for web hosting and a domain name on top, and not to mention any customization options such as paid themes or fonts.
- Support: Magento doesn’t have the extensive support resources of Shopify, which has a larger community and teaching videos. There is no online support or telephone support as it runs on an open-source platform.
- Lack of choice: Compared to Shopify, Magento doesn’t have many customization options. There are only 14 templates with the standard version, and many of them are dated and don’t have the modern aesthetic of other platforms.
Is Magento right for your business?
Magento is an open-source platform, so there is no official support for users. Still, it is an easy to use, reliable platform that can make establishing an eCommerce store affordable if you’re happy to pay for a domain name and web hosting.
BigCommerce can be most easily compared to Shopify. Like Shopify, BigCommerce is easy to use, and it offers a range of prices and packages tailored to different sizes and sectors. What’s more, if you are able to perform some light coding, the eCommerce platform is highly customizable, but you don’t need to have technical expertise. You can also use themes and templates to build your website if you are happy to pay extra.
- Options for big and small businesses: Like Shopify, there are options to scale up or down depending on business size. The standard monthly package should suit small businesses, whereas the Enterprise option is tailored to large companies and contains customization features and analytics tracking.
- Support: Unlike Magento, BigCommerce offers plenty of support for users, including a BigCommerce “University,” and other resources aim to answer all your questions.
- Price: Plans range from $29.95 to $249.95 per month, which is the most expensive of the three options. However, the standard option should provide all the functions needed for a small business, as well as plenty of customization options.
If you want to expand your small business successfully, you will need an eCommerce platform on your website. The best eCommerce platform depends on your business size and niche, as well as your budget. If you are just starting out and don’t have money to invest in your online selling platform, you could build your eCommerce site slowly using a basic Shopify package. However, you will be competing with some big-name brands.
If you run a web development company, Magento is the perfect platform to use because it is cost-effective and easy to customize, so long as you have coding and development knowledge.
BigCommerce is an excellent option for those companies in-between; it requires some light coding experience with web development experience but has plenty of support and inbuilt customization.
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