E-commerce platforms are the pieces of software that sit beneath shopping websites and allow the site owners to manage their products and inventories. In the same way that WordPress allows site owners to easily publish web pages and blog articles, e-commerce platforms are basically a content management system (CMS) for online stores.
That means that choosing the right e-commerce platform will allow you to build a high-performing ecommerce site that can grow with you into the future, while getting it wrong can cripple you before you even get started.
And so with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the options.
What e-commerce platform do you need for B2B?
Shopify is a kind of a beginner’s option, an easy-to-use ecommerce platform that can work wonders for hobby sites but which can quickly start working against you if you grow in size and start taking on employees and growing your business.
Arguably the biggest drawback of Shopify is the fact that it’s proprietary as opposed to open source, which in practical terms means that their system is closed off to outside developers. If you need something that isn’t a part of the system, you’ll need to request it from Shopify and hope that they eventually take your feedback on board.
Shopify also costs money, starting out at $29 USD per month, although you can try it for free for 14 days. It will barely be enough for you to get a site up and running, so there’s not much point going with the trial unless you’ve investigated what they offer and decided that you can make it work for you.
WooCommerce can be thought of as a mid-tier ecommerce platform, suitable for a pretty wide range of different company types and reasonably easy to use even for beginners. They also have good documentation, so if you’re looking for a solution that comes with a library of information and decent support, they’re a pretty good choice.
The platform also has decent security, or at least as good as it can be for an open-source ecommerce platform, and there are also a bunch of professional quality security plugins out there that you can tap into.
Our only real complaint about WooCommerce would be that it can start to get a little buggy after a while if you add too many products to it, and it can also start to suffer from slower page load times. Still, it’s a good mid-tier option.
BigCommerce is probably your best bet if you’re planning on expanding at any scale, mostly because they make the whole process so painless. When you’re dealing with the question of scaling at a rapid rate, then last thing that you want is to be held back by your ecommerce platform.
One of the more appealing aspects of BigCommerce is its Essentials plan, which allows you to pick and choose only the functionality that you need. This means that if you don’t have a certain piece of functionality at the outset, you can always pick up the extra features at a later date.
BigCommerce is also worth thinking about because of its powerful suite of inventory management tools. It makes it easy for you to choose between a bunch of different shipping and payment providers to find the one that works best for you. If you change your mind or can find a better deal at a later date, there’s nothing to stop you from changing over.
Squarespace is a little different to the other entries on this list because along with providing ecommerce platforms, they also provide content management systems and even drag and drop editors designed to make creating a website as easy as possible.
This means that Squarespace can be an option, if you just want to get an ecommerce store up and running as quickly as possible, but it will start to hold you back if you plan to create something that’s seriously powerful.
Squarespace is basic, no matter what kind of website you’re building, and that’s particularly true for ecommerce sites. Because it’s not specifically designed for ecommerce, it’s missing out on a few of the customisation options and pieces of functionality that more specialized ecommerce platforms are known for.
We’ve saved the best for last, here. Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform that’s easy to pick up and use no matter how experienced you are. It works well and has plenty of features out of the box, but it’s also not too expensive to find a Magento development specialist or agency to build out new features.
Magento is perfect across a range of situations because it’s both open source and widely adopted, meaning that if you’re ever stuck with a question, there are chances that someone else has already asked it and got an answer. It’s also nicely scalable, meaning that it can easily grow with you as your company’s turnover and inventory increases.
Out of all of the different platforms that are out there, Magento is arguably the best one to pick as a default, purely because it’s so versatile. Look at Magento first and then look elsewhere if it falls short somehow or doesn’t have the functionality that you’re looking for.
There’s arguably no such thing as a right or wrong choice here, but it’s also true that different ecommerce businesses do better with different platforms. The key is to find out which platform best suits your individual needs.
The good news is that the information that we’ve shared today should help you to make a decision, and making a decision is half the battle. Choosing the right e-commerce platform is important, of course, but you also need to make a move at some point or you’ll end up missing the boat entirely.
And so now it’s over to you to make your kick-ass ecommerce business a reality. Good luck!