Did you read our last blog about the unique brick and mortar store with an eCommerce experience? Well, yes, we built that you see…and I am only reiterating…that…by choice and ease of use, we will eventually do all the shopping online from our various devices. This isn’t to say shop goers will stop going to shopping malls altogether, but yes…it will diminish quite considerably. Why spend hours and hours in long queues and crowded malls when you can shop anything from anywhere, with just a click of a button?!

So, all in all “eCommerce” (or, as I call it- the golden boy of the online world) has revolutionized the way people shop. And, to be honest eCommerce as an industry is kind of like Jack’s beanstalk on steroids.

How? you’d ask, well it (eCommerce) has become a $220 billion behemoth, growing at almost 20 percent per year. According to Americommerce, eCommerce is on track to outrun brick and mortar growth in the next five years. Currently online sales is a $220 billion industry and could grow to $370 billion by 2017.

A few years ago, eCommerce was just a buzzword, but thanks to its enormous growth several other related business avenues/concepts have cropped up…here are but a few examples, virtual enterprise, virtual bank, network marketing, online shopping, online payment and payment gateways, digital advertising…the list goes on. This shows how much of a growth driver eCommerce has become for all economies, as well a driver for change in various societies. It is a rapidly growing business industry leading to lower costs and is also improving the economic efficiency.

So, if you are planning to start your very own eCommerce store, and you’ve figured out what exactly you’ll be selling and to whom – the next most pertinent thing to figure out is: what online platform suits your online store? The answer to this could make or break the future of your online store…to emphasise this will be one of the most key decisions you will be making. So, let’s talk about the merits of all that is out there and how easily can you create and manage your store.

SHOPIFY:
The name should give you a hint, it will amplify one’s shopping experience BUT in an online store! “Shopify” is one of the most famous eCommerce platforms today, extremely popular among small retailers and startups who want an easy to use and easy to setup eCommerce store. So, if you are looking to sell a limited number of goods, Shopify could be your answer from heaven, and did we mention you can integrate with various leading dropship platforms like inventorysource.com to ease your backend management and inventory issues. Let’s take a closer look at Shopify.

Features

  • No Need to be a Tech or Design Wiz: This is by far the best feature of Shopify, you don’t need to know coding, or have any ‘know-how’ about its “inner-workings”, you can log in and start. Yes, it is that simple.
  • Shopify comes with premade themes, 11 of them based on customer behavioural patterns, these themes are also mobile responsive, so you do not need to worry about Google sidelining your online store.
  • It very affordable, actually one of the cheapest way into online store building. You can have your store up and running at just $14, allowing you to sell up to 25 products.

Limitations/Challenges

  • Low customization compatibility: Making modifications to your online store can be difficult. It is made as easy to use as ‘plug and play’, so the pre-built themes come with limited scope to allow changes.
  • It’s not all plug and play, there is a slight learning curve. Shopify created and follows its own programming language called “liquid”, while it greatly improves the user experience, it does require learning it.
  • Some simple store functionalities like creating drop down menus and adding items to them aren’t as easily available and adding them can turn into tedious process.
  • As Shopify is a relatively smaller eCommerce store, with a select number of themes available. So, there is a chance that your website may look like one of many.

Some of the famous online stores built on Shopify:
Tattly, Zero Gravity, The noun project, Good as gold.

Websites built on Shopify by SourceFuse:
Systems Direct, For Die Hard Fans, Fashion copilot.

All in all Shopify is best suited for novice eCommerce users. It is best suited for someone who is new into the eCommerce business and does not have a lot of products to sell.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce and WordPress are a match made in heaven, an inbuilt eCommerce, integrating beautifully and enabling users to create an online store within their websites. It is a newer solution compared to OpenCart and Magento, but if you have a website that’s powered by WordPress, you can add this open source plugin to your site completely “free of charge”.

Features

  • It offers a seamless interface to users who are already accustomed to WordPress.
  • As it runs on WordPress the server requirements are not that high.
  • WooCommerce has a very short learning curve as the users are already knowledgeable about the WordPress ecosystem that it is part of.
  • The simple set of features offered by WooCommerce are sufficient for setting up basic eCommerce store.
  • While there is no limit to the # of products that you can add to your woocom store, it is recommended that you have upto 100k products to ensure speed and good UX.

Limitations/Challenges

  • It only works with WordPress.
  • WooCommerce is a free plugin, but you will need to add a series of different extensions to make the most of it.
  • While the basic themes and plugins might be free or inexpensive, the premium ones will cost a lot more.
  • WooCommerce is ideal for small businesses, but it might not work for mid and large size businesses that are looking to scale up soon.

Websites built on WooCommerce:
Porter & York, Cupcake studio, Yousli, Ecokitty.

Websites built on WooCommerce by SourceFuse:
Thirstkart, The Wishing Chair, Outdoor Brands Outlet.

WooCommerce works best for someone who is already accustomed to WordPress as it is a free plugin and you can get your store up and running with basic themes. But, if you are looking to scale up soon, WooCommerce might not be the best option for you.

OpenCart
OpenCart is an open-source PHP based eCommerce software. It is a turn-key shopping cart solution. The built in template system makes it easier to switch between different templates and it gives you wider range of options compared to shopify.

Features

  • OpenCart offers users a good set of features, including a powerful functionality and a good mechanism for order processing.
  • Easy to use backend and simple interfaces make it very easy for new users to set up and start using OpenCart quickly.
  • OpenCart comes with very good documentation. The user guide and screenshots really come in handy during the initial setup.
  • The cost of setting up a store with OpenCart is quite approachable.
  • OpenCart has a very responsive and nimble admin UI.

Limitations/Challenges

  • OpenCart does not provide very high performance, unless you opt for additional plugins such as for SEO.
  • Stores set up on OpenCart are not very easy to customize. So, it might be constricting for some businesses.
  • Caching is not provided by OpenCart, and must be added using an extension for improving performance.

Websites built on OpenCart:
The online watch company, Tinware direct, Mains electrical, Broadwalk seals.

Websites built on OpenCart by SourceFuse:
Aryellys place, AE computers, Allshop Ancient.

If you have a small budget, OpenCart might be the right choice. This is a powerful eCommerce solution and offers better functionality compared to Shopify and WooCommerce. It also doesn’t require a lot of investment compared to Magento. But, OpenCart is a bit restrained when it comes to SEO and you won’t be able to customize the templates as much as you can using Magento.

Magento

With nearly 21% of the world’s top 100,000 ecommerce sites built on Magento (Socialbeat), makes it the most popular eCommerce platform. Magento is rich in features and functionality and offers users an in-depth and powerful platform for their store and it can also be customized as per the requirements.

Features

  • With the right infrastructure support Magento can provide very good speed.
  • It’s usage of SEO is also very efficient.
  • The ease of scalability ensures that your store can smoothly grow along with your business.
  • Features like easy language and currency conversion make Magento the best option for businesses that need a global reach.
  • The free community edition also comes with support from an expert team of developers.
  • With thousands of available themes and an incredibly rich third-party plugin library, it gives you unlimited options. This is the reason why giants like Nike use Magento as their platform.

Limitations/Challenges

  • Magento can be a complex platform, which means that it might lead to a longer learning curve. To use the immense range of features offered, technical knowhow and extensive knowledge of HTML/CSS is required.
  • The community edition is available free of charge, but moving to the enterprise edition may prove costly.
  • It requires sufficient server space to operate efficiently at a high speed. Smaller servers may cause speed and other related issues, and also lead to higher maintenance cost.

Websites built on Magento:
Nike, Ghirardelli, Harpers Bazaar, Rosetta stone, GANT.

Websites built on Magento by SourceFuse:
MyNutrition, Yost vises, Altheat supply, Ucarnival.

The place where OpenCart falls short is exactly where Magento continues to provide benefits. Magento has no design constraints and you can create a fully customizable shopping experience. You have a complete control over the SEO settings of the system. All this gives you a type of power that you just cannot get with the other platforms.

To sum it all up, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for eCommerce. It all depends on your needs, the number of products you want to showcase, and the capabilities you want to integrate in your website.

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