When it comes to choosing an eCommerce solution there are a wide variety of eCommerce platforms to choose from. All of which having their own key qualities. Having so many eCommerce options is great, but it also makes your decision a lot harder. In this article I will be providing you with a detailed explanation of 4 eCommerce solutions. By the end of this post, based on your eCommerce needs, you will be able to see which eCommerce platform is right for you.
Why Would You Want an Online Store?
I think it’s pretty obvious why you would want an online store. To sell your products online and to earn a passive income through your online shopping system. Most people prefer to buy products from the comfort of their home as oppose to visiting an actual store. There are also those who are the complete opposite and would rather visit a store. However, the numbers and sales are favoring online stores and there is nothing stopping you from having both!
If you own your own store/shop and are not using the power of the internet to sell your products online. You are missing out on thousands of potential customers.
You are also loosing out on money, because your competition may already be online. You may not be physically loosing that money, but it could of been you selling them those products…
Don’t hesitate, setup your online store as soon as you can!
DIY vs Web Developer…
I realize that a majority of my readers are web developers and tech savvy people. However, for those who are not and are looking for eCommerce solutions. This section is for you…
Are you planning on setting up your own online store? Have zero web development background or skills? If so, let me stop you right there..
I’ve seen people do it and I’ve seen them fail. If you’re serious about your business and you want a professional online store. You need to hire a professional web developer. Do you not want your customers to have a professional experience when they visit your online store?
If that’s the case you need a professional developing it. It’s as simple as that!
Some of these eCommerce systems are very complex and are much harder to develop than a regular website. You will save yourself so much time and stress, plus you will have someone that actually knows what they’re doing. You should be dedicating your time to increasing sales and marketing your business. Rather than trying to save money, which you won’t actually save because you’ll invest so much time into doing this yourself.
Unless you feel you have a lot of free time and you simply can’t afford a web developer then sure try it yourself. However, let me warn you now, you have a very steep learning curve ahead of you and it isn’t going to be an easy task.
Let’s take a look at our first eCommerce system…
Magento Community Edition
Magento community edition is a free downloadable open source software. In my honest opinion, I believe that Magento is probably one of the most complex systems out of any eCommerce platform. That being said, it offers complete flexibility and control over your store and has the most eCommerce features compared to any other platform.
If you have say 10 products then I would not recommend Magento for you. It’s not the type of software for a small product inventory. Magento to me is aimed at corporate companies with a large inventory. I would recommend a Magento website to a developer only, not to someone who is trying to do it themselves. It’s far too complex for a beginner. Below you can find a live Magento website and the Magento eCommerce features.
Here is a website using the Magento eCommerce software. A large clothing brand known as Fred Perry.
- Unlimited Products and Categories
- Multiple Language Support
- Simple Administrative Dashboard
- Discount Codes
- Product Tags
- Ability to add CMS pages and static blocks
- Built in SEO Tools
- Newsletter manager and subscribe form
- Wide range of reporting options, sales, searches, orders placed etc
- Backup and Restore Tools
Magento by far offers a very comprehensive eCommerce platform for businesses with large inventories. Learn more here..
OpenCart is an out of the box shopping cart solution. It’s a simple eCommerce platform that makes managing your online store as simple as can be.
Again, if you’re unfamiliar with web development then it would be suggested that you use a web developer for the setup of your OpenCart store. Personally, I think OpenCart is a lot easier to use than Magento. It comes pretty close when comparing features, but it doesn’t have quite as many as Magento. However, it has the necessities and allows you to easily setup, configure and start selling your products online.
One of the best things about OpenCart is their lifetime free support and free updates. The support for OpenCart knocks the support for Magento off the radar. I think lifetime support is one of the top assets for this platform.
You’re bound to need support at some point and with OpenCart you can turn to a friendly forum or request support.
Here is the OpenCart demo site and the platform features.
- Free Support and Free Updates
- Unlimited Products and Categories
- Many eCommerce Templates
- Product Reviews
- Product Ratings
- Downloadable Products
- Automatic Image Resizing
- SEO Tools
- Backup and Restore Tools
WordPress eCommerce Plugin
Now this is not an eCommerce platform, this is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. I thought I would add this plugin to the list for a simple solution. This is something that you could do by yourself as it isn’t difficult to setup a WordPress plugin.
Let’s not get this twisted, this plugin can simply not be compared to something like Magento. It has it’s limitations and is for an entry level online store. You won’t get all the features you could get with a Magento website. However, it makes it simple for you to setup and sell your products using a WordPress website.
I would recommend using this for a small inventory of products. You will also not receive support like you would from the OpenCart platform.
Here are some of the features that come with WP eCommerce.
- HTML & CSS, complete control over your look and feel
- Multiple payment gatways, PayPal, SagePay, Google Checkout etc
- Multiple Shipping options
- Customizable Checkout Page
- Downloadable/Digital Products
- Tax rates per location
- Customer Personalized Products
For a plugin, this provides a great eCommerce solution. Learn more about WP eCommerce..
UberCart is another excellent eCommerce solution. Ubercart is an open source shopping cart system that integrates an online store into your existing CMS Drupal website.
The best thing about UberCart is it’s completely customizable and you have complete control over your stores layout and product view. Downside to this, there aren’t many pre-made templates. You have a very basic looking store to start with. However, with some CSS you can make this completely custom and style it in a way you want. I’ve seen many professionally designed stores that use UberCart.
Another quality with UberCart is that they provide many downloadable product options. I would 100% recommend Drupals UberCart for anyone who wants to sell downloadable products such as images, templates or e-books.
For UberCart to function there are several other modules that will need to be installed. You can find out more information on this from the UberCart website below.
Here is a UK based business known as Livie & Luca which uses UberCart for its online store.
- Configurable Product Catalog
- Flexible product creation system
- Multiple Payment Gateways
- Multiple Shipping Methods – UPS etc
- Anonymous and registered checkout accounts
- Custom options for downloadable/digital products
- Sales, product and customer reports