If you are new to eCommerce, starting an online store may not be easy, and there are things you should take into consideration. Perhaps the most important part of this puzzle is to figure out will best suit your needs.
There are two ways you can build your e-commerce store: self-hosted and hosted. Self-hosted means the provider will give you the software, but you will have to get your own hosting service, while a hosted service will provide hosting for your store.
Self-Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
Self-hosted platforms such as WooCommerce require you to purchase hosting space. So, you will need to download their software and then upload it to your host. This can be a bit technical for someone who has never done it before, and if you ever get hacked, you would need to take care of it. It is also critical to secure your online store to ensure that it is PCI compliant.
Self-hosted is a good option, but you must be advised that for new e-commerce entrepreneurs, choosing to start off with a self-hosting option is bound to be a steep learning curve with lots of headaches which are likely to take away your concentration on your core business.
Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
The hosted eCommerce platforms are built to make things easier. With this option, you do not need to worry about PCI compliance, vulnerabilities, web crashes, or backups. Everything just runs. Everything technical regarding the maintenance, safety, and security of the website is managed by the provider (i.e., Bigcommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, etc.)
This is the preferred option that most online entrepreneurs both new and old choose. It is hard enough to build a business, so spending half your time managing and learning each and every -technical aspect of your e-commerce store is not good for business. A hosted option ensures that you can stay focused on your business and customers.
There are many advantages that make hosted e-commerce platforms a better choice for many. However, there are still many people who decide to self-host. This is often because of the monthly subscription fee that has to be paid for using hosted platforms. This fee is sometimes very high and so it becomes a major downside.
Examples of Hosted Platforms
Shopify has over time become the most used e-commerce platform. Shopify has over 120,000 customers online making them without a doubt one of the leading e-commerce platforms today. They have a simple to use user interface on the admin panel that can assist even new users to accomplish just about anything.
Shopify still has a few limitations including limitations on changing the checkout page. For anyone wanting to have a custom checkout page that is exactly the way you want, Shopify may not be for you. In fact, most of the hosted platforms do not provide customizable checkout so if this is a big issue you may as well shift to the self-hosted options.
The availability of many different add-on-apps is one of the areas where easily stands out from the crowd. Just like using a smartphone, Shopify allows you to download and install on your e-store any of its many apps. The app’s setup is easier than on most of its competition.
BigCommerce is an e-commerce platform that is similar to Shopify. You can customize the store quite a bit, but in still lacks Shopify’s total control. With their inbuilt functionalities, it seems like you could implement Product Feed and Google Trusted Stores, but implementing some other system is not likely to work.
BigCommerce has a much better admin panel interface than some of the other hosted platforms. It is very user-friendly and easy to navigate for anyone.
Magento is a self-hosted e-commerce platform that has been in the market for a long time. Magento enjoys use of many big e-commerce websites but it has quite several downsides especially when it comes to new users. Difficulty in customizing is one of the major problems you are likely to discover with Magento.
Magento has sometimes been described as the giant complex dinosaur that just refuses to quit. The platform has a lot of features, but its user interface is complicated and not close to being user-friendly.
Magento has another issue that has often been reported, and that is the slow performance that is often experienced. There exist several solutions that can fix the issue of speed, but just the fact that a user has to fix issues is a major disadvantage to many.
Unless you are prepared to spend hours or even days messing around with caching settings and extensions, you may not be happy with the slow and sluggish performance often exhibited by Magento.
WooCommerce is loved because of its ultimate customizability. Anything that can be done on WordPress can be effected on WooCommerce, and some of the functionality changes that can be done are efficient.
Just like using WordPress, you will have endless resources available. There exists many thousands of themes and plugins to assist you to do what you want to achieve. You basically have access to all the goodies of WordPress which means you can also start blogging on your store in a neatly and organized way.
There are many other eCommerce platforms which just like the above-discussed offer their own unique features with advantages as well as disadvantages. The platforms discussed above are some of the more popular ones. Shopify and WooCommerce would be great choices for anyone looking to start up a new e-commerce store. WooCommerce is ideal for an average small store just looking to sell a few items in the right way.
Every eCommerce platform can get your new estore up and running, but they are all different in the way they work. Differences come in form of cost, functionality, speed, support, and usability. Depending on your business needs, and the information you now have on a few of these platforms, you can now make an informed decision as to which eCommerce Platform works best for you.