When choosing an e-commerce platform a critical decision is what type of relationship going forward do you want with the company. Typically the decision is between a self hosted platform and a hosted solution.
Self-Hosted e-commerce platforms give you the most control over the design as well as the user experience of the site. They allow for the most customization both on the front end and the back end since every instance of the software stands alone.
Hosted e-commerce platforms sacrifice a bit in customization but they more than make up for that in speed to market. Typically getting started with e-commerce via a hosted solution is just a matter of a swift design process and inputting product data. For companies that have straightforward e-commerce needs this can be a great solution. One potential downside is the higher ongoing cost of maintaining a hosted solution.
The #1 e-commerce platform Magento offers robust e-commerce functionality out of the box as well as plug-ins that extend the functionality to cover nearly any need. Any functionality not already available in plug-in form can be custom built to specifically meet the need.
Content outside of products (blog, how-tos, documentation libraries, etc.) isn’t managed easily. The best solution is to connect a Magento store to WordPress to handle this type of content.
The #1 e-commerce plug-in for WordPress WooCommerce powers 24% of all e-commerce websites. A huge strength for WooCommerce is its connection with WordPress allowing a website to manage products and content easily on one site with one seamless user experience and a single backend administration. WooCommerce has a smaller number of plug-ins available but they do cover most needs. Custom development is also an option since it is open-source and self hosted.
While managing loads of products isn’t impossible the interface isn’t as easy as it could be. Being a newer to the market there are fewer options when it comes to complicated discounting schemas and multiple layers of promotions.
Founded in 2006, Shopify’s mission is to bring hassle free e-commerce to entrepreneurs and established companies alike. The platform has everything needed to sell both online as well as in person, at the point of sale.
Bigcommerce focuses on the marketing aspects of e-commerce, with integrations to the tools that marketers typically use and a lot of built in promotion functionality. Dominating search results is at the core of the platform.
Volusion seeks to be inclusive of both the website and e-commerce store. This one stop shop approach makes it easy for companies who need rapid deployment of a site and are ok picking from a library of nicely designed templates.
E-Commerce As A Service
An up-and-coming third option is e-commerce as a service. This platform provides inventory, cart, checkout, and payments through an API allowing developers to build a custom front-end shopping experience without having to build all of the “necessaries” of e-commerce.
Building an app or need a custom shopping experience Moltin is easier to integrate than a fully featured self-hosted solution and is more flexible than your typical hosted e-commerce platform.