Choosing an ecommerce platform for your SME… the good, the bad, the ugly!

Choosing an ecommerce platform - fashion shop images

When it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform to use, the possibilities can seem endless. You want to be able to sell your products and services simply but effectively. You want to be able to understand the backend of the platform and have a high quality UX for your customers. You want to trust what each platform promises you but how can you choose when you haven’t had experience using all of them? Well, that’s where we come in. We’re going to go through the 3 main E commerce platforms out there, Woo Commerce, Shopify and Big Commerce, and tell you the truth using our first-hand knowledge so that you can make the right decision for you and your business at ease.

1. Woo Commerce

What is it?

WooCommerce is an open-source ecommerce platform created by WordPress which provides their users with a free and highly customisable software package through which they can sell their products.

Woo Commerce WordPress e-commerce plugin

The Pros

  • It is open-source, which means that there is a wealth of useful modifications available for free, produced by users from all over the world with varying degrees of programming experience
  • The software can be completely customised for any possible needs, allowing the business to alter the user interface to allow them to match their brand designs and functionality whilst enabling them to handle unlimited orders and users
  • There is an unrestricted amount of products that one can upload so businesses can provide their customers with everything that they want to
  • There are several additional features and add-ons that can vastly improve the service or performance of an online store which can be provided for additional costs, for example, WooCommerce Checkout Add-ons

The Cons

  • To truly get the most out of this platform, background knowledge of WordPress is really valuable
  • WooCommerce is a plugin specifically for WordPress and therefore cannot be implemented into just any site. It has to be a site that uses WordPress for content management.
  • While the base program is free to use, the extended add-ons can be expensive, so for small businesses, this isn’t always the most cost effective option when it comes to an ecommerce solution. That said, these add-ons can vastly increase the functionality and performance of the online store

2. Shopify

What is it?

Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce solution, which allows you to set up an online store to sell your products and services, and it prides itself on providing customers with a great user experience.

Shopify e-commerce platform

The Pros

  • Shopify is integrated with payment providers, plus, its built-in speed checkout allows customers to pay quickly
  • Shopify allows custom title tags and meta descriptions on every category page for SEO purposes. It also allows you to build customised landing pages for marketing purposes
  • The Shopify App store provides various free and paid Apps which give brands the chance to have an online presence all around the web
  • It provides you with an abandoned cart saver

The Cons

  • Shopify’s basic plan starts out quite cheaply at around £25 a month but the price increases depending on the level of subscription you pick, is pretty steep. The advanced plan is nearly £300 a month
  • Shopify uses a different set up to customise their themes rather than using PHP for their templates so it might be a problem for people who haven’t worked with Shopify before
  • Shopify’s blogging platform is not as popular as WordPress as it provides only a basic layout for blogging
  • Also, shifting from Shopify to another online store is not a very smooth journey so you can feel tied down once you’ve decided on using this platform

3. Big Commerce

What is it?

Big Commerce is a hosted e-commerce solution that allows business owners to set up an online store and sell their products online. The product is aimed primarily at people without much in the way of web design skills, but it also allows more tech-savvy users and developers to tweak the HTML and CSS of their online stores too.

Big Commerce e-commerce platform

The Pros

  • For the cheapest monthly plan, you get access to a large range of features without any additional costs.
    These include:

      Professional reporting
      Image optimisation
      Gift cards
      A built-in ratings and review system
      Real-time carrier shipping quotes
  • It provides good value for money and serves as a good ‘all-rounder’ e-commerce platform out of the box

The Cons

  • Although you can pick from 7 free themes, it’s more a case of there being 2 themes with different colours
  • It doesn’t provide an abandoned cart saver
  • While Big Commerce has started a small (but growing) app marketplace, they still don’t have the availability of other ecommerce platforms when it comes to custom solutions

So, there we have it, our pros and cons of 3 main ecommerce solutions for SMEs.  If you would like to talk about this more, or ask questions, please join our #ShakeItHUB Online Facebook group.

We’re always happy to help.

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