Are you ready to start selling online? Well, first you’ll need an find an eCommerce platform to use.
Selling goods online is a huge decision, and since you’ve answered Yes on the first line of this post you’re already halfway through this ride.
There are a plethora of platforms that are available for selling online. On the other hand, theres are seasoned sites such as eBay, but on the other hand theres online marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba, even Instagram and Facebook.
While if you are already a retailer, there are an abundance of eCommerce platforms that could be used. While without an eCommerce platform, you will have to start from the beginning, developing and designing every function by writing loads of lines of code. Just think how much time will be spent in development and testing alone.
Therefore, using an already developed and tested eCommerce platforms make the whole process easy by implementing a management system that is already made, where you just upload products to set up your online store effortlessly.
But first, before trying selling online, particularly if you’re just starting up, you’ll need to take into consideration an assortment of factors.
The Determining Factors
The following could assist you as a starting point for planning the most suitable eCommerce platform that serves your purpose.
The first big one is Do your research
Make sure that you selecting the right platform first by asking every imaginable question you want, to guarantee all of your bases are covered.
Another features of having an eCommerce platform is choosing the most dependable hosting service. Using a bad hosting company can hurt your search rankings, making your site slower.
You should narrow down at least three hosting services that you like (one of my favorites is SiteGround) but anyway, have a list all the pros and cons of the hosting services, and then progress accordingly. Taking a hasty and unplanned decision is a path that you should avoid.
Each platform come with a price list with an appropriate subscription period. While, if you are a small business owner and are just experimenting the world of eCommerce, you’ll may need to take into account the pricing structure of the platform that you are planning to use.
Make sure that you get a comprehensive understanding of the pricing structure. You also need to ensure the affordability of the platform which may additionally include delivery costs, subscription fees, and extra tax amount.
As there has been many situations when merchants were required to change to another platform as they increased the prices and the costs were unjustified. If you aren’t careful, switching between eCommerce platforms can cause havoc on SEO.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
All the above won’t value if you can not make your online store rank on Google for example. As it can be greatly helpful to have your online store rank high in all major search results.
You really need your customers to find you when they are seeking for products like yours.
Some of the factors when looking for an SEO-friendly platform include:
- The capability of adding a blog directly on your site.
- The capability to use a “custom” domain name.
- Allowing your customers to leave reviews.
Your effort in SEO should never end here, as once you start appearing in search results, you’ll need to continuously be optimising your offerings in case your go down in ranks through the times.
And lastly mobile friendly
While achieving an eCommerce platform for your business, make sure on whichever platform you finally decide on, does have the capabilities to show mobile-friendly pages.
Magento is one of the most well-known open-source eCommerce solutions, and is used by big brands around the world and has expanded their offerings to a fully hosted solution, making them even more competitive as a Shopify alternative. Still, since Magento is still considered by most as open-source software and this aspect makes their platform particularly unique, this post I will be discussing it as such
- Feautres: Similar to PrestaShop, Magento provides built-in functionality, particularly for an open-source solution. Its offers integrated checkout, payments, and shipping that includes international payment and shipping options. Magento can also accommodate transactions and currencies across countries.
- CustomiSation: One of the largest points of appeal to a platform like this is the customisation capabilities. You’ll have access to Magento’s source code, you or a developer will be able to edit, modify, and add to any part of the software as necessary.
- Scalability: One, different aspects of Magento is the platform’s scalability. Magento can accommodate small businesses but also those that are larger and growing quickly. As Magento offers enterprise services, as well as solutions for B2B, global expansion, and omnichannel commerce.
- Development: For a software platform as open as Magento, you are going to need development resources. Whereas PrestaShop is known for their approachability despite being open-source; Magento is not nearly as user-friendly, therefore, if you want to be able to run your eCommerce operations on your own or get up and running as quickly and easily as possible, Magento probably will not going to be your best or easy option.
- Cost: Though Magento Open Source is free to download, the costs that are required to set up and maintain your online store using this platform can quickly add up. The development resources that are needed, for Magneto, countless customers could feel that the cost is only appropriate for larger or high scaleable businesses.
Unlike PrestaShop and Magento, WooCommerce is a different type of open source solution, although WooCommerce does give you the ability to edit the source code to customise your site, its first and foremost a WordPress plugin so you have to use it with WordPress.
- Features and customisation: Even as a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce can give you impressive eCommerce functionality and customisation abilities. WooCommerce offers built-in payment processing with leading providers, unlimited selling options including product variations, images, and page customisation also there are options for shipping, taxes, customer management, and more.
- Usability: Since you already need to have a WordPress powered website, setup to use WooCommerce, installing and utilising this plugin is relatively easy.
- Price: Setting aside the cost to host and secure your WordPress site, WooCommerce is probably the closest to a free Shopify alternative. WooCommerce is free to download, and if you are not paying a developer to help with customisation, its be cost-effective to use for your eCommerce operations. Plus, WooCommerce doesn’t charge any additional fees for payment processing, other than those that come directly from your payment provider.
- WordPress: Perhaps the most significant drawback of WooCommerce is that it is specifically a WordPress plugin. You can’t use WooCommerce if your website is hosted on another platform and likewise if you want to use WooCommerce to start your online store, you will have to set up a WordPress first.
- Limitations: Similar to the limitations WooCommerce has as a WordPress plugin, this solution doesn’t offer the same overall scalability as a hosted, all-in-one platform.
PrestaShop may be free and open-source, but this user-friendly eCommerce solution comes loaded with many of the same features as paid eCommerce platforms. You can host PrestaShop on the Google Cloud Platform or your own web server. Just keep in mind that the self-hosted which gives you complete control over customisation.
- Built-in features: Though PrestaShop gives you the ability to edit the code in any way you see fit to customise the software for your needs and this platform has an amount of features built-in. Capabilities like inventory tracking, internal search engine, payment processing integration, one-page checkout, tax configuration, abandoned cart emails, customer database creation.
- Customisation: As I’ve mentioned above, one of the benefits of an open-source platform is its customisation possibilities. You can edit the code to create and customise your online store and its functionality as you need. Also, you can utilise any of the already created modules you see in the PrestaShop marketplace.
- International reach: PrestaShop is a European-based business that offers specific features for those looking to sell internationally.
- Support: The customer support is a pretty standard feature on all hosted eCommerce platforms, it is typically not offered for open-source solutions, however, PrestaShop offers a variety of different support plans that you can purchase for specific assistance with your online store.
- Development requirements: With all open-source platforms, PrestaShop requires technical knowledge or developer resources to set up and customise your online store. Additionally, if you need to outsource these tasks to a developer, you will more than likely need to continue to work with that resource to manage updates, changes, and security to your eCommerce site.
- Expensive add-ons: Although it’s useful that PrestaShop has a marketplace for integrations you can use to extend your functionality, however, some of the modules are expensive and the cost can quickly add up, especially if you need a developer to install and manage them.
Volusion is another great Shopify alternative, Volusion offers business owners similar functionality at a similar cost to that of Shopify. Interestingly enough, however, Volusion is among the first of this kind of eCommerce software, started in 1999.
- Features: Volusion offers a stable feature set, including a rich content editor, home-page slideshow, secure checkout, shipping options, recurring payments, customer relationship management and more.
- Payment processing: It offers payment processing from Stripe, PayPal, and their own Volusion Payments.
- Price: Payment processing aside, Volusion’s three main plans cost the same as Shopify’s plans, unless you pre-pay for three months of service.
- Scalability: Although Volusion’s plan offerings are very similar to Shopify, on the whole, the platform offers fewer features, add-ons, and theme options. Therefor and especially if you are looking to grow your eCommerce business quickly.
Volusion’s three plan offerings, start at $29 per month, $79 per month, and $299 per month, are priced exactly the same as Shopify’s core plans.
BigCommerce is an eCommerce solution to create an online store. It not only helps you build a shop, but it also helps you get more orders by listing your products on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and other popular networks.
Trusted by millions of users, it is a smart choice for any scaled business online. BigCommerce allows you to choose a template, customise your website, accept payments, manage orders, and more. It helps you drive more traffic to your online store to improve your search engine rankings.
- No transaction fees: BigCommerce doesn’t offer in-house payment processing; but, it gives you the ability to integrate one of 1 65 payment gateways and don’t charge any transaction fees on top of those from the processor directly.
- Unlimited staff accounts: You’ll find Shopify only includes 15 staff accounts with the Advanced Shopify plan, while all BigCommerce plans offer unlimited staff accounts.
- Single-page checkout: One of the most important functionality is to prevent cart abandonment, BigCommerce offers single-page checkout for all of their plans while Shopify needs an add-on to do this capability.
- Abandoned cart saver: Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery tools with all of their plans, whereas BigCommerce only has it in their Plus plan.
- Online sales per year: Each BigCommerce plans has a limit for the number of online sales you can have per year. While Shopify doesn’t require sales limits on any of their plans.
- Integration options: Although BigCommerce also has a robust app store, they do not have nearly as many options as Shopify.
BigCommerce offers three standard plans. These plans are priced similarly to Shopify’s, the Standard plan priced at $29.95, while the Plus plan at $79.95, and the Pro plan at $249.95.
3dcart’s eCommerce functionality, plan options and pricing is incredibly similar to Shopify’s. But however, there are a few notable ways in which 3dcart stands out as one of the top Shopify alternatives.
- Built-in features: From the 3dcart’s website, this is the platform that includes over 200 built-in features so it’s give you an impressive amount of functionality for your eCommerce store One notably, is all of the 3dcart plans offer single-page checkout, reports and dashboards, domain registration, product and customer reviews, gift cards, coupons, discounts, saved carts, and more.
- Payment processing: You can connect with over 100 various payment processors, without charging additional transaction or integration fees.
- Startup store: When you compare 3dcart with Shopify, you’ll notice that Shopify’s first full-service plan, is the basic Shopify that starts at $29. 3dcart, on the other hand, it has a Startup Store plan that starts at $19 per month. So if you are looking for the an affordable solution, than this Startup plan is better than Shopify’s first offering, also it offers an extensive amount of features, including advanced tools like social wish lists, gift wrapping, up-sell and cross-sell, and unlimited product variants.
- Store building: 3dcart requires you to edit their themes with HTML/CSS code, so it depends on your experience level with web development, this could be a benefit or drawback of 3dcart, if you can edit using these languages, you will be accessing a level of customisation that you don’t necessarily receive with a “WYSIWYG” editor.
- Editing HTML/CSS: The fact that 3dcart requires you to edit their themes with HTML or CSS means it could alienate eCommerce and web beginners who have no technical knowledge and don’t want to work with a developer.
- Theme designs: Although 3dcart offers a variety of free and paid themes, editing aside, the themes themselves don’t seem as professional-looking as others on this list.
- Usability: It wouldn’t be fair to say that 3dcart is difficult to use; yet, it certainly isn’t as intuitive and approachable as Shopify.
- Add-ons and advanced features: 3dcart has one of the most strong feature sets of any of the platforms on the list; however, there’s notable capabilities like abandoned cart, loyalty programs, email newsletters that require you to opt for, at a minimum, the $79 plan. While 3dcart doesn’t offer nearly as many integration options.
- Customer support and reviews: The reviews for 3dcart are pretty average, with divisive opinions about their customer support service.
3dcart’s pricing is notably similar to Shopify’s which in fact, it only differs very slightly. 3dcart offers the Startup Store for $19, and the next two of the 3dcart plans, Basic and Plus, cost $29 and $79 respectively.