The best e-commerce platforms for a web shop

Which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop? There’s a large choice of e-commerce platforms available, also known as Content Management Systems (CMS). So the choice can be vast. However, we always recommend to go with those platforms which are best supported by the online community and with plenty of talent available should you need support.

In this article we highlight the main contenders with the above in mind. Ensuring you’re future proofed and not tied in to a developer or agency that only operates on the CMS they’ve chosen for you.

Shopify

When it comes to which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop? Shopify is a great e-commerce platform for ‘start-ups’, and for a number of reasons which include;

  • Cost effective
  • Looks professional and very smart
  • It’s very easy to use, not just in setting up but also for processing orders and the day-to-day running of a website
  • Has a 24 hour support team and equally as important it has thriving community of independent developers

There are more plus sides than noted above, but these are the key for consideration. However, with all the plus sides there’s also the not-so-great aspect to, which are:

  • Shopify is not open source and as a result you don’t have complete freedom to do what you want. Ultimately, the site doesn’t truly belong to you
  • For products and main pages SEO is okay but you will have to deal with added terms being added to some URL’s, which limits some of your SEO
Sknhead London uses Shopify and looks awesome

Sknhead London uses Shopify and looks awesome

I almost always recommend Shopify for ‘start-ups’ because you can build out a really clean looking, easy to navigate online shop with ease. One thing that can make your shopify store look truly awesome – although you could say this of all stores – is beautiful imagery. So, it’s worth the effort and a little more spend to acquire some wonderful images.

It’s easy to use from a back-end point of view too. It will last you for quite a few years and you may never need to change CMS. In the future you may feel you need to move to another platform like WordPress or Magento.

Big Commerce

Now I have a confession, we mostly work with Shopify, which is Big Commerce’s direct competitor. There’s not much between them so I’ll not go in to too much detail here. Big Commerce is a another solid and easy to use platform, similar to Shopify and you can have more Staff Accounts.

Pricing is practically identical as are many other features. Big Commerce does not have a proposition to match Shopify’s cheapest offering ‘Shopify Lite’, but then if you’re serious about your e-commerce offering, you would not use Shopify Lite anyway – it’s actually too basic.

Design options, User Experience and Extensions on both platforms are very good and in equal measure. Shopify’s just been around longer and is used by online retailers, ‘considerably’ more often. These are the main reasons why we lean towards Shopify over Big Commerce, but you won’t go far wrong with Big Commerce. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal preference.

WordPress & Woo-Commerce

Woo-Commerce is WordPress' answer to the World of e-commerce

Woo-Commerce

WordPress, and of course Woo-Commerce, cover almost every scenario, present and future…and this is why we like it. Your practically future proofing your business. Unless you’re going truly Global with franchise stores then WordPress & Woo-Commerce more than have you covered. You could argue WordPress is better suited to businesses that are no longer start-ups, and are in the SME space.

This is because it will be more expensive to set up and a little more complex, but that’s the price you pay for future proofing your business. You should definitely choose a Bespoke solution. It will make your website more secure and less likely to crash or be hacked. Even more importantly you’ll spend less time and money on needing to update templates etc

Here’s some other good reasons to use WordPress:

  • Easy to use and navigate through the CMS
  • Arguably the best Search Engine Optimisable (SEO) CMS out there
  • Bespoke can mean both beautiful and unique designs
  • Has a 24 hour support team and equally as important it has thriving community of independent developers
  • Open Source and you own all the code

Here’s the downsides:

  • It will take more development time and therefore cost then the Shopify or Big Commerce solutions
  • If it’s not a bespoke design, then you will need to keep on top of updates

If you have a little more budget and you’re certain of success, then a bespoke WordPress & Woo-Commerce is an obvious choice.

Magento

Mothercare ecommerce store on Magento content management system

Mothercare ecommerce store on Magento

There’s nothing you can’t achieve with the Magento e-commerce platform. Especially from a customer perspective.

You can tailor product pages, even create service pages (offering a paid service). With the new (not-so-new) community version 2.0 it’s much improved on the older version. Magento is far more heavy weight then perhaps you need though, which is important to bear in mind. Global

franchise company’s like Mothercare use Magento providing their franchises with the correct CMS to use and all its plugins. Samsung, Nike, Harpers Bazar and Olympus are just a few other big hitters using Magento.

Magento was built for e-commerce and e-commerce is its raison d’etre. Fully equipped with a plethora of features where other CMS lack.

Here’s just some of the reasons to use Magento

  • Very customer focused
  • Fast load speeds and high performance, especially compared to the competition
  • Loads of plug-ins for almost every scenario you can imagine
  • If there’s not a plug-in you’ll be able to create customised extensions and work flows
  • Excellent for SEO
  • Multiple stores from one login/back-end making it easier to manage your content
  • It’s Open Source meaning you can modify it to your hearts content

And of course, the downsides:

  • You’ll need a developer, either in-house or via an agency. Naturally there’s costs involved in this
  • It can be clunky to use, not as simple as the other CMS mentioned earlier, but this is to be expected when it can achieve so much more than other CMS

Magento is good, very good. The main questions you need to ask yourself is do you ‘need’ all the bells and whistles a Magento e-commerce platform has to offer?

…and a note on which e-commerce platforms to avoid.

Many people will say Wix or Squarespace are amazing platforms, and in their own way they are. However, When considering which are the best e-commerce platforms for a web shop you want: your website to have the capability of an e-commerce store and the SEO potential for search engines, then they’re just aren’t going to cut it. By all means use them for a ‘brochure website’, but when it comes to e-commerce platforms you need a CMS with more guts.