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How-To: Choose the Right eCommerce Platform for Your Business

eCommerce and Your Business

Whether you’re starting your search with zero eCommerce experience or you’re ready to see what else is out there, finding the right platform for your business is more than just choosing what some say is the best - it’s about finding the eCommerce solution that meets all of your business needs.

We understand that researching all the eCommerce platforms out there can be a very daunting and overwhelming process. For that exact reason, we’ve done some of the legwork for you!

3 Steps to Choosing Your New eCommerce Platform

Step 1: Determine what you are looking to do with your new eCommerce solution.

Is this your first time checking out an eCommerce solution for your business, or are you looking to graduate from a solution that doesn’t meet all of your needs to one that does? It’s important to take some time and determine, then document, what you’re looking to do with a new eCommerce solution.

Step 2: Narrow down your options.

There are so many things to consider when researching eCommerce platforms, and some things may be more important to you than others. We recommend narrowing your options down to 3-5 platforms, then digging deeper into them.

The Top 5 eCommerce Platforms

Check out these eCommerce software solutions that all have digital and physical product capabilities:

  logo-magento.png logo-woocommerce.png logo-shopify.png logo-bigcommerce.png logo-volusion.png
  Magento Woo Commerce Shopify Big Commerce Volusion
Price: FREE (Community Edition)

FREE  (WordPress Add-on)

$29.99 (Basic) $29.95 (Basic) $35.00 (Plus)
Trial: FREE (Needs Hosting) FREE (Needs Hosting) 14 days 15 days 14 days
Recommended business size: Medium-Large Small-Large Small-Large Small-Medium Small
Recommended user level: Advanced Intermediate Beginner Beginner Beginner
Does the Platform Include Hosting? No No Yes Yes Yes
Does It Include a Domain Name? No No Yes No No
Bandwidth of Host Host dependant Host dependant Unlimited Unlimited 3GB (+$7/ 1GB)
Number of Products: Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited, up to $50k in online sales 1,000
Does It Include an SSL Certificate? Not included Not included

Includes a Shared SSL certificate;

All pages https 

No dedicated checkout page

Includes a Shared SSL certificate

$79/year dedicated

Not included

$89/year dedicated

Is It PCI Compliant? Must buy SSL certificate and link to 3rd party PCI certified payment processor Must buy SSL certificate and link to 3rd party PCI certified payment processor Fully compliant Fully compliant

SSL sold separately - $89

PCI compliant in-house payments
Does It Have an In-house Payment Processor? No No

Yes

Fee: 2.9% + $0.30

No

Yes

Fee: 2.15%
Available 3rd Party Processors Comes with PayPal, Authorize.net, and more
PayPal 2.9% + $0.30
Comes with PayPal 2.9% + $0.30 +2% for 3rd party processor Comes with PayPal 2.9% + $0.30

Qualified rate: 2.15% + $0.34

Non-qualified rate (3rd party): 3.96% + $0.34

Termination fee: $99

PCI compliance fee: $3.41 per month

Does It Allow International Payments? Yes, dependant on 3rd party processor Yes, dependant on 3rd party processor Yes Yes No
Does It Include FREE Themes? Yes Yes, 6

Yes, 24

High customization, easy
Yes, 60+ Yes, 80+
Does It Offer Premium Themes? $1+ $59+ $80+ $150+ $50+
Does It Include Email Hosting? No No No No Yes - $2 per email 25GB storage each
Does It Include Automated Transactional Emails? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Does It Include Automated Marketing Emails? Follow Up Email - $149 Follow Up Emails - $99 MailChimp - FREE

No

(Plus and Pro plans, Yes)

Yes, limited
Can You Send Newsletters? Yes Add-on - $49 Yes Yes $200/month
Does It Include a Blog? No, but you can get a FREE WordPress Add-on Yes -
WooCommerce is a WordPress extension
Yes Yes No, but you can get a FREE WordPress Add-on
Does It  Offer Customer Support? No, but there is a dedicated online community, forums, user guides, and Wiki you can use Yes, 24/7 + WordPress community support, tutorials, forums. 24/7 24/7 24/7
Notable included features:

• Open-source

• Multiple payment gateways

• Integration with multiple shipping vendors

• Catalog, cart, and customer group pricing rules

• Allows editing of meta-information for all products

• Open-source built for WordPress

• POS

• Discount codes

• Shipping label discount

• Most user friendly

• Easy customization

• POS

• Abandoned cart saver

• MyRewards

• Deal of the Day

• Abandoned cart saver

Does It Integrate With Other Marketplaces? M2E Amazon/eBay/Rakuten Integration - FREE - $1000+ depending on amount of sales

 

Pay with Amazon - FREE

WP-Lister for Amazon - $149

WP-Lister Pro for eBay - $149

Includes sales on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter

eBay Importer - FREE

Amazon Webstore Importer - FREE

Sellbrite - $99/month (Amazon, eBay, Etsy)

Includes sales on Facebook

Sellbrite - $99/month (Amazon, eBay, Etsy)

Plus Plan: Facebook store, MailChimp (email)

Pro Plan: Plus plan + Amazon and eBay

Negatives: Costs for extensions adds up; for advanced users Costs for extensions adds up; for advanced users No dedicated checkout page Limit on sales Overage charges; blog not integrated
Recommended Extensions:

Advanced SEO Suite - $149/yr

Follow Up Email - $149/yr

Automatic Related Products - $149/yr

Mass Product Actions - $119/yr

Shipping Rules - $99/yr

Magento WordPress Integration - FREE

(Extensions listed are for the Magento CE 1.9.x platform. Extensions with similar functionality for Magento 2.0.x may not be available yet from some vendors)

Payment Gateways: PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net

Smart Coupons - $99

Follow-Ups - $99

WP-Lister for Amazon - $149

WP-Lister Pro for eBay$149

eBay Importer - FREE

Amazon Webstore Importer - FREE

Sellbrite - $99/month (Amazon, eBay, Etsy)

Sellbrite - $99/month (Amazon, eBay, Etsy)

Includes more extensions with higher level plans.

Premium Plan:

• Phone Orders

• CRM

• Ebay Integratio

• Amazon Integratio

• API Access

• Deal of the Day

• Customer Loyalty Plan

• Batch Order Processing

• Account Manager


MailChimp - $10/month
Analytics: Google Analytics is integrated Plugin: WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration

Basic Plan:
Channel Overview Report - lets you see how each individual sales channel is performing

Professional Plan:

• Channel Overview

• Product Sales

• Order Sales

• Payment

• Taxes

• Insights

• Traffic

Use Google Analytics

Includes reports for:

• Store Overview

• Marketing

• Merchandising

• Orders

• Customers

• Purchase Funnel

• Abandoned Cart

Use Google Analytics

Volusion Analytics:

Starter SEO - $500 setup, $849/month

Advanced SEO - $750 setup, $1749/month

Premium SEO - $750 setup, $2495/month

Is It SEO-Friendly? Yes - open-source platforms come with a high level of customization Yes - open-source platforms come with a high level of customization

Customizable H1, title and meta tags

Includes a blog

Customize page titles and meta tags

Includes a blog

SEO-Friendly URLs

Editing of meta tags

Is There Room to Grow? Yes - great for businesses with multiple retail locations or large online retailers Yes - being open-sourced provides the freedom for customizing features Yes - although there are more limits on customization compared to Magento and it uses a shared SSL

Some - this platform will be sufficient in serving the needs of small to medium-sized businesse

Doesn’t incorporate the extensions or customization a large company would need

No - includes too many bandwith limits, product limits, and extra charges

Does not allow for enough customization for a growing business

Would be good for a small business that projects to stay under the sales limits

*(Extensions listed are for the Magento CE 1.9.x platform. Extensions with similar functionality for Magento 2.0.x may not be available yet from some vendors)

ecommerce-mobile-ph-1.png

Things to consider:

Check out these eCommerce software solutions that all have digital and physical product capabilities:

  • Open source platforms like Magento and WooCommerce are extremely flexible and have little to no limitations on SEO.
    • Be aware that poor coding and implementation of extensions for these platforms can lead to negative SEO results.
    • WooCommerce users should be familiar with WordPress or will also have to hire a developer familiar with the WooCommerce platform.
  • Extensions can become outdated. Mainly in regards to Magento and WooCommerce, when an eCommerce platform is updated to a new version it can cause complications with older extensions.
  • Hosting and Domain costs (~$20+ per month depending on host, storage and bandwidth needs.)
  • Payment Processor Fees (Platforms may add an extra 2%+ fee on 3rd party payment processors; some 3rd party processors charge a monthly fee)
  • Use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider to speed up your site. CDN providers use linked servers to deliver your content faster and remember, Google rates faster sites as more important!
    • ex. CloudFlare (Up to $200+ a month, Free version available)
  • Securing your site with a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for about $80 per year. Google rates secure sites higher. There are two types of SSL certificates:
    • Shared - www.[yourdomain].3dcartstores.com
    • Dedicated - www.[yourdomain].com/shoppingcart
Step 3: Sign up for demos and trials.

Even after you narrow your options down, there are demos and free trials you’ll want to check out. For Magento and WooCommerce, their platforms are free, but require you to have a host to build your site on.

Things to look for:

  • Make sure the platform looks and functions how you need it to.
  • Check for the included features and ones you may have to buy.
  • Take note of the time the pages take to load.
  • Find out how long it will take to get started.
  • Keep an eye out for hidden fees!

Your New eCommerce Platform

With all the options out there, there’s really no right or wrong answer for what is the best eCommerce platform - it all depends on your business and what you’re looking to get out of it.

Our preferred platform is Magento. It’s a great solution for an established business. With it’s flexibility and functionality, the Magento eCommerce platform leads the competition.

8 Reasons to Choose Magento:

  • It is a secure platform.
  • Built from the ground up as a dedicated e-commerce platform used by retailers large and small.
  • The Magento Community Edition is a free, open source platform that is very well supported by the Magento community of developers.
  • The “out of the box” ecommerce functionality of Magento is very comprehensive.
  • The need for custom coding is reduced because of the extensive collection of well supported “plug-ins” to accommodate special requirements.
  • Magento comes standard with many SEO friendly features and has built in support for an optimized mobile experience.
  • Reporting and Analytics can tie directly with Google.
  • We can customize the look and feel of the carts without compromising the code base of the site.

Interested in a Magento eCommerce store for your online business but unsure where to start? We can help - contact us today.

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Topics: Marketing, Software Solutions, How to

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