Nowadays in order to run a successful business, having an online presence is a must. The question for many though, is how to build a website and marketplace to sell your products and services. Luckily there are companies out there whose sole purpose is to help you set up an entire eCommerce site. Website design, shopping cart, merchant account - Everything. To make it simple, here are (in no particular order) the top 5 eCommerce platforms.
Shopify centers its focus around ease of use and beautiful templates. Within minutes, you can set up a Shopify account, pick a template, and begin making sales through a visually appealing and functional site. Shopify includes all the standards of an Ecommerce platform, but they take it a step farther by including advanced SEO and Marketing optimization. The SEO plugins help you create page titles and meta tags to help boost your relevance on Google specifically. For most, the Pro Package will be the best pricing option. With Pro, you get all the features that Shopify advertises along with Gift Card abilities and abandoned cart security. The Pro package comes in at around $79 per month.
Big Commerce is an eCommerce Platform very similar to Shopify. Of course they offer the standards of an eCommerce Platform, but they too include SEO optimizations similar to Shopify. One feature that really stands out for Big Commerce though, is its promotional and coupon system. Think about the last time you bought online. There was most likely a little blank text box where you could potentially enter a promo code and get a discount. This is what Big Commerce offers built into their software. Another feature to help with marketing is Big Commerce's social media integration. Not only can you simply add sharing options from your favorite social media sites on the sale page, you can actually build an entire store that runs as a Facebook app. People can directly buy through Facebook and don't need to be directed off the site. If you have built a big social media presence, then Big Commerce is definitely a great eCommerce Platform to look into using. Just like Shopify, the best pricing option is there pro level, which for Big Commerce is called the Gold level. It comes in at about $79.99 as well.
One concern you may have is security. If hosting an ecommerce site where credit cards and personal information are stored on servers through another company worries you, then Volusion is definitely an option to look into. Not only is Volusion PCI/CISP certified, they also have a 99.9% Uptime Guarantee. Volusion gives you the spectrum of what a good Ecommerce Platform needs as well as added security measures. The pricing for Volusion is similar to Big Commerce and Shopify coming in slightly cheaper at $75 for the pro level.
Magento is an eCommerce Platform that offers a wide array of different eCommerce products. Their biggest option is Magento Enterprise, which is quite similar to the other options already listed. Where Magento shines though, is with its other sub-products. Magento Go is a simplified eCommerce Platform for those new to the field. It offers a few of standard options a platform should have, but is stripped down, cheap, and easy to learn. If all these bigger options seem like they too much, then Magento Go is the way to go. It is a great entry point for a startup or small business. Coming at $65 per month for one of their more professional packages, Magento Go is a steal. One cool option Magento offers is its Community edition, which is a community built and open source option which is free. Although free, their open source option does require more tech knowledge to get it up and running as well simple daily use.
PrestaShop is the only option on the list which is entirely free. Due to software being open source, it will always remain free. Unlike Magento however, PrestaShop is built around being open source. Since the Magento Community Edition is more of a side project, it doesn't get nearly as much support. This makes PrestaShop a better overall software experience for the user. As for its feature set, PrestaShop offers an array of them similar to most other EcommercePlatforms. One cool option they advertise is their software's ability to automatically collect the location data of a customer and set the taxes and discounts accordingly. Although some other sites offer this service, PrestaShop is able to give it you free where as other sites require you to upgrade to their bigger pro and enterprise solutions.
Most of these platforms offer the same standard features, but each one has a special option that could be a deciding factor with helping you choose your eCommerce Platform. Most good options, like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and Magento, cost a few dollars, but well worth the money. And if you happen to not want to pay, then check out PrestaShop. The free and open source eCommerce Platform.
Feel free to voice your opinions on the growth of online marketplaces and eCommerce platforms below, in the comments section.