(Pocket-lint) - You know as well as we do that ecommerce is a cut-throat business – and it’s more competitive than ever before. It’s not enough to make amazing products: the whole ecommerce experience has to be amazing too, or your customers will vote with their fingers and mice and shop somewhere else.
But how do you deliver an exceptional customer experience when your skills are in making great products, not making websites? That’s where ecommerce platforms come in.
Ecommerce platforms do the heavy lifting for you. You provide the product information, pricing and photos and they take care of the rest: the shopping carts, the payment systems, even the order confirmation emails. But which one is best for you? Let’s find out.
Welcome to our list of the best ecommerce platforms for your ecommerce website. Enjoy!
BigCommerce is the Swiss Army Knife of ecommerce: if you can imagine it, BigCommerce can do it. In addition to professionally designed, fully customisable, mobile-friendly themes that can get you entire ecommerce operation online in a flash there’s are incredibly quick response times, extensive discounting and coupon promotions, Google-friendly URLs and metadata and the ability to sell across all channels including social media. It’s extensible too, with stacks of third-party apps that integrate BigCommerce with everything from inventory management to shipping services. It’s no wonder BigCommerce is the power behind some of your favourite brands. As ecommerce website builders go, this is at number one.
Shopify comes in three flavours: one for new businesses, one for growing business and one for bigger operations. All three provide unlimited storage, manual order creation, discount codes, a POS app and abandoned cart recovery but the most basic plan lacks the reporting and shipping tools of the more advanced options. It’s also the most expensive: unlike some rivals Shopify charges per transaction, with the highest rates for its most basic package. If that doesn’t appeal there’s an enterprise-grade version, Shopify Plus, designed for higher volume sellers; at the other extreme, there’s Shopify Lite for the occasional sale.
Like many services Weebly is aimed at two different kinds of customer: people who want websites, and people who want online shops. Both offerings share the same basic features – templates, unlimited storage, ad-free hosting and site search – while the ecommerce options add features for selling. In the entry-level Pro plan that’s a little basic with a shopping cart, Square payment processing and support for third-party payment processors but the Business and Business Plus plans add features for marketing and statistics, Facebook ad integration and Square gift cards. If you want to email customers who’ve abandoned their cart without ordering or provide real-time shipping information you’ll need the top-end Business Plus plan.
Once more we’re in “website or shop?” territory. Among the key selling points here are G Suite integration for email, the mobile-friendly template selection, which is of consistently high quality, and the fact that the site doesn’t take a cut of transactions. If you go for the premium Advanced plan there’s also a useful subscription option that you can use to offer recurring or time-limited subscriptions, which might be useful for food items, beauty products and anything else that can be stuffed in a box once a month. You also get abandoned checkout recovery for those customers who shop and then change their mind before placing an order.
Wix’s basic plan is very basic indeed – it includes ads, so it’s more for experimenting with than doing anything serious – but the service’s dedicated ecommerce plans cover the essentials including a decent amount of online storage, unlimited bandwidth and a drag and drop interface you can use to create your ecommerce operation without coding. There’s a good selection of mobile-friendly themes, decent performance and some useful tools, but some of the best features such as unlimited video hours and VIP support with priority response are limited to the most expensive ecommerce plan.