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Business Operations: Picking The Best E-Commerce Platform

 5 min min read

E-commerce platforms have revolutionised the way products are sold to consumers. In the old ...

E-commerce platforms have revolutionised the way products are sold to consumers. In the old days of retail, running a store often meant a significant initial investment in bricks-and-mortar. As a result, starting a business was typically tricky, with a high outlay if someone wanted to buy their own premises. 

Nowadays, however, the physical shop has been replaced by the virtual storefront and the e-commerce fulfilment service: selling online is cost-effective and efficient. Moreover, it allows businesses to access markets that might have been closed to them due to distance. 

Despite the cost of living crisis forecasted to slow sales growth, the e-commerce market continues to be buoyant, with fashion e-commerce businesses accounting for 31% of e-commerce revenue in the United Kingdom and total online spending reaching £120.6 billion

Business owners have to now concern themselves with the new challenge of attracting online shoppers, as well as inventory management and e-commerce fulfilment—which e-commerce fulfilment services are experts in assisting business owners with. But with these new challenges comes the excitement of carving out a place for themselves in their markets.

The question at the forefront of many business owners’ minds, particularly in the internet age, is “what is the best e-commerce platform for growing my retail business?”. 

With several choices available, picking an e-commerce platform needs careful consideration. 

Business owners should pay attention to the reputation of their options, the support those sites offer to their clients, and the user experience of the various e-commerce shopping carts. Think about the times you decided not to go ahead with an online purchase—what made you leave that item in your cart and not put in your card details? 

The Best E-commerce Platforms 

Answering questions about the best e-commerce platform differs from business-to-business depending on need. 

From the big players to the newer entries to the e-commerce platform market, we’ve compiled a short list of some best providers, their main selling points and drawbacks, how easy they are to use and the various integrations and customisations they offer their users. Our list will cover the following: 

  1. Shopify
  2. WooCommerce
  3. Magento (now known as Adobe Commerce)
  4. Wix

1. Shopify

General Overview

Shopify offers some of the most powerful tools on the e-commerce platform market and is built to allow businesses to scale. Not only do they enable companies to create websites in a no-code way using their paid or free themes and Content Management System (CMS), but they also provide business tools, including a Point-of-Sale (POS) system for in-person purchases. 

Sellers can also utilise their Shopify Fulfilment Service to ship out customers’ orders. In addition, experienced users can become Shopify Partners, affiliates that can generate additional revenue by creating apps to help others to run their e-commerce stores and through referring businesses to Shopify.

  • Free trial: Yes. Shopify’s free trial runs for 14 days.
  • Support: Shopify offers phone and email support, a community forum, and a knowledge base in 19 languages.
  • Ease of use: Shopify allows its clients to lean on a suite of business analytics and productivity tools, enabling businesses without dedicated front-end developers to build websites using their CMS. Shopify sites also have a free SSL certificate, so your customers know they can safely buy from your business.
  • Price: Multiple tiers, from Shopify Starter at £5 per month through to Advanced Shopify at £259 per month, all the way to Shopify Plus, aimed at larger businesses, for £1,650 per month. Paying upfront for one or two-year plans opens up discounts. 

Perfect For

Shopify offers businesses a plug-and-play, all-in-one package, in their own words. It’s ideal for many kinds of companies, from start-ups to established market forces, and their order fulfilment offering takes some of the pain out of e-commerce. 

2. WooCommerce

General Overview

WooCommerce is helpful for retailers looking for an e-commerce platform to integrate into their current website, particularly if that site is running on the WordPress CMS. 

Because it’s built on WordPress, an extensive community of other users can help with any snagging issues. In addition, there’s a wealth of information on blogs and knowledge bases on modifying your e-commerce site. Plugins also exist to handle WooCommerce fulfilment and inventory management. 

  • Free trial: No free trial, as WooCommerce is technically free, open-source software. However, we’ll go into more detail in the pricing section.
  • Support: Although WooCommerce doesn’t offer support for the plugins that make it so powerful as an e-commerce platform, there are live chat and email support options for the WooCommerce software itself, as well as community forums and instructional materials.
  • Ease of use: WooCommerce is highly customisable but will require web development knowledge to expand the functionality of your web store. WooCommerce offers flexibility for companies with programming capacity, but for non-experts, you’ll likely need help to modify your virtual shop-front.
  • Price: As mentioned, WooCommerce is open-source, free software. Despite this, there are associated costs: businesses have to consider the fee of hosting their sites, which can range from £5 through to £15 per month, as well as a yearly cost for registering their domain name, which is around £5-10. Alongside this, the themes, plugins, security features and transaction fees can add anywhere from £100 to £1,500 in additional costs per year. 

Perfect For

WooCommerce is the perfect e-commerce platform for retail businesses with existing WordPress sites and access to web developers that can modify their sites and ensure they’re performing at their best.

3. Magento (now known as Adobe Commerce)

General Overview

Magento (now known as Adobe Commerce) is likely the e-commerce platform with the highest technical requirements on our list. 

An open-source platform, many large-profile businesses—from Nike to Samsung—utilise it to power their online stores. Despite its acquisition by Adobe in 2018, it remains a free and open-source software (FOSS) means of building a robust and full-featured e-commerce site. 

Adobe has monetised the platform recently, offering an enterprise version at an annual cost of $22,000 for businesses that generate under $1 million in revenue. Although the platform doesn’t provide any fulfilment services, many third-party companies exist to support Magento fulfilment services.

  • Free trial: No free trial, but as a FOSS platform, users can use the non-enterprise version for as long as they like. 
  • Support: Magento has extensive forums, a knowledge base and user guides on best practices hosted by Adobe. Enterprise customers can raise tickets for the Adobe Commerce Support Team to answer.
  • Ease of use: Magento offers one of the most SEO-friendly e-commerce platforms, allowing businesses to keep up to date with their SEO rankings and allowing Google searches to turn into conversions. Magento integrations such as Patchworks empower users to automate their store, allowing it to connect to sites such as Amazon, eBay and Farfetch and any in-store POS system they may have as raising orders with your order fulfilment partner.
  • Price: Magento is free and open-source for the community-supported version of the platform. However, businesses will need to factor in the cost of development and the hosting and domain expenses associated with their sites. Magento’s enterprise offering (Adobe Commerce) starts at an annual fee of $22,000 for businesses that generate under $1 million in revenue. 

Perfect For

Magento is excellent for businesses with a more established presence or those who want a fully-tailored customer experience with their e-commerce platform.

4. Wix

General Overview

Wix gives businesses creative control over developing their virtual storefronts with an easy-to-use system of drag-and-drop page elements, even for complete beginners. 

Although Wix isn’t specifically a platform, unlike the other platforms in this list, it still allows businesses to create product galleries via store manager tools and the option to calculate taxes and shipping for different locations across the world. As a result, Wix can be a powerful tool for businesses that want to reach a global audience.

  • Free trial: 14-day free trial of premium plans and an ad-supported and bandwidth-limited version which can be used until you decide to begin selling products. 
  • Support: Limited support for businesses on the free plan. However, this isn't relevant since you can’t sell on the free plan. There is a customer support option for enterprises on the Wix plans (Business Basic through to Business Unlimited). Still, it will require a subscription to Business VIP to take advantage of priority support, meaning that your business can get back up and running if anything goes wrong.
  • Ease of use: You can quickly spin up your virtual storefront using their powerful suite of tools. Wix also offers payment management, so you won’t need to worry about getting a developer involved to process customers’ payments for orders. However, you’ll need to be a Business Unlimited customer to accept global orders and process multiple currencies.
  • Price: Retail businesses will need to use the Business plans. Wix pricing starts at £15 per month for the Basic version and goes up to £27 for the VIP one. 

Perfect For

Despite not being a dedicated platform, the Wix offerings are powerful. The Business Basic and Business Unlimited plans offer everything needed for businesses just starting out selling online. 

For companies with an already-established customer base, those businesses whose ambitions are to sell globally, or for those who require advanced analytics and reporting, the VIP option is the one for you.

Choosing the Right  Platform for Your Business

Choosing the best platform for your business will require you to consider your needs and experience, as well as your technical skills, when it comes to building your storefront. Making sales is undoubtedly exciting, but first, you must attract shoppers to your business and exceed their expectations. 

You have great products, but is the experience of going to your website to buy whatever you sell daunting or painful for your audience? Do your customers expect speedy shipping that you cannot offer and is it worth partnering with a fulfilment service that can support late order cut-off? 

A survey by the research firm Gartner found that 64% of shoppers claim that customer experience is more important than how competitively-priced products are when choosing a store to buy from. Similarly, you need to consider if your chosen e-commerce platform offers its own inventory management or if you will need to utilise a third-party inventory management service. 

Several platforms we have explored offer their own website-building technologies. For example, user-friendly interfaces for experimenting with how your products are shown are standard, as well as how much information is shown alongside them. Alternatively, other platforms allow you to build your own storefront, allowing you to use the services of a web developer to get your business up and running. 

Some offer an easy way to allow you to manage your own inventory and the site’s behaviour when shopping carts are abandoned, such as sending an email or notification to shoppers reminding them to complete their purchases. 

Many e-commerce platforms will offer users marketing tools, allowing them to attract new customers and retain existing ones. They will even offer search engine optimisation (SEO) support so your site ranks higher in your product sector's search results. This shouldn’t be discounted since boosting your online presence means you can target the 68% of internet users that begin their browsing by using a search engine and the 6 out of 10 users that don’t click past the first page of results. 

Another consideration for business owners is cost: whilst most of the shopping carts we cover offer limited free versions of their services, you'll probably have to fork over some cash to unlock the full functionality of your new site. Luckily, many of these platforms offer tiered pricing models, meaning you can scale your site as your business grows. 

Helping with your  fulfilment services

Core Fulfilment offers small businesses expert support with their fulfilment needs. From fashion fulfilment to inventory management, we can assist companies in getting products to worldwide customers. We’re proud of being able to support the ambitions of organisations of any size, and with our late order cut-off, we help you stand out from your competitors. So contact us if you’re looking for a fulfilment service to partner with and help your business thrive.

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