In 2017, the worldwide eCommerce industry was worth USD $2.3 trillion in revenues. This number is set to nearly double to $4.88 trillion by 2021. Nowadays, products and services are being sold into non-native markets almost exclusively via online sales. Consumers are increasingly looking abroad for purchases as 57% of online shoppers buy outside their country’s borders. The aura of global eCommerce emerges too large to ignore. On another note, consumers are becoming more and more demanding as to their experience on a webstore. Being able to showcase AI powered related products, upsell items and frequently bought together products on your store is becoming a requirement. For this reason, deciding to upgrade your eCommerce software might be the well-needed step to set your business to sail international and demanding waters, on the quest of getting the largest possible slice of the eCommerce pie.
To start, you will have to ask yourself multiple questions that will define your choice; how should the platform meet the needs of your business model; how does the vision, strategy, customer base, roadmap, ecosystem, and community of partners of the service provider match your plans; is the platform aligned with your business’ digital maturity; what is the cut-off percentage of out-of-the box functionality that the platform should provide you with; does the platform allow you to offer an omni-channel experience; will the platform be scalable to follow your evolving businesses’ needs; will the platform be available and adaptable for international market. Undeniably, choosing the best eCommerce software is not as straightforward as it seems. In fact, it is actually one of the most important decisions that you will make early on in your eCommerce journey.
To help you decide how to choose the best eCommerce platform, we are bringing forward this guide that details different platform types which exist out there.
- Build your own
More of a method than a type of eCommerce platform, building your own will require you to contract someone with the appropriate skills to develop it. Due to the cost and tenacity it requires, it’s become a less common option nowadays, as easier and more readily available options exist today. Nonetheless, if your business is very niche and has a specific set of needs and requirements that none of the commercial eCommerce platform can offer, then this might be the right option for you.
- Traditional platforms
With this type of platform, you will usually have to purchase a licence fee upfront which will have to be renewed annually. You will need an IT team and developers who will build and customize your eCommerce on top of the platform’s foundations, to then install it either on-premise or into the cloud. Examples of traditional platforms include Oracle Commerce and WebSphere Commerce. Nonetheless, these are often redeveloping their platforms to be offered in other types such as cloud and SaaS.
- Open source platforms
These are similar to traditional platforms in development procedure, with the exception that you don’t incur an upfront cost in purchasing a license. Nonetheless, you do have to pay for initial development, implementation, ongoing development, upgrades and migration. The best example of an open source eCommerce platform is Magento.
- Cloud platforms
Many traditional and open source platforms have started offering a hosting service and are rebranding themselves as cloud platforms. In the process of being converted, some still need more development. Cloud-based eCommerce software platforms have the advantage of being easier to scale, giving you the flexibility to handle more customers as your business grows. Great examples include primarily Magento 2 Commerce Cloud, as well as Salesforce Commerce and Volusion.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform
These platforms are licensed and delivered to a user; are cloud-based systems, accessible on any web browser; are built on a single codebase. The same technology is available for anyone paying a certain monthly fee that covers server use, maintenance, security and upgrades. Popular examples of SaaS eCommerce providers are Shopify and BigCommerce. One of the biggest advantages of SaaS platforms is that your eCommerce system runs on the SaaS provider’s hosted servers. Your 3rd-party provider becomes responsible for the security, performance, and maintenance of the application on their servers.
As you can see, many platform options exist for launching your webstore. Remember, choosing the right platform is important as it sets the stage for a successful, or unsuccessful, eCommerce. Two of the strongest players out there are Magento and Shopify. Often pitted against each other in the race for the best ecommerce platform, they are in reality quite different, and answer to very different needs. Let’s take a look at our comparison of Magento and Shopify to grasp their differences, and help you decide which best for you.
Magento is the leading eCommerce platform for larger businesses worldwide. It is the chosen platform for the most advanced online store projects, and preferred for the development of advanced shopping navigation and merchandising capabilities. Magento competes with custom-made eCommerce websites with its unrestricted development capabilities, while offering a scalable framework and an easy-to-manage day-to-day backend. It is the choice of over 250,000 live stores from all over the world.
On the other hand, Shopify is the leading eCommerce platform for small and medium businesses worldwide. It combines an easy-to-use backend with a powerful set of sales features and a wide number of add-ons. It competes with the most advanced open source eCommerce platforms while being accessible to a non-technical person. Shopify currently powers over 600,000 websites.
Now that we’ve discussed the different size and technical capacity of businesses that Magento and Shopify target, let’s observe a quick run-down of the two platforms’ key features:
A. Magento Key Features
- Free open source platform, meaning the source code is freely available and can be modified, while propriety code cannot. This means Magento’s template code can be altered to suit specific store needs;
- The platform is self-hosted by the customer, or a supplier of his choice;
- Unequaled flexibility, which is more suitable for evolution, and countless front-end features like coupon codes, giftcards, customer dashboards, related products, wishlists, order status modules, and more;
- Allows for more creativity and the opportunity to stand out;
- Multilingual out-of-the-box support for navigation and shopping cart;
- Shared knowledge through a community of support counting over 50 thousand users;
- Easily manageable merchandising capabilities for store owners, despite required development when adding features;
- Hundreds of options for SEO tools, marketing automation, shopping cart email reminder, and accounting;
- Highly advanced ecosystem with most powerful apps.
B. Shopify Key Features
- Most user-friendly platform on the market;
- Customizable storefront with built-in website builder and content management software;
- Easy setup of product catalog and payment processing;
- HTML & CSS editable to customize every aspect of the store;
- Hosted solution with SSL encryption for added security;
- Over 100 mobile-ready storefront themes;
- 24/7 support over phone, email and live chat;
- Shared knowledge through online community of support for users;
- Integrated Shopify™ Payments option replacing external payment processors;
- Presents the benefits of a well-rounded marketplace;
- Flexible pricing plans for all business sizes with unlimited bandwidth;
- Quick integration of social media accounts into the site.
By properly assessing your eCommerce needs and referring to the above comparisons, making the right choice for your business should become quite apparent. Remember, doing the right analysis is the most important part of the journey, and the last thing you want is to start from scratch after choosing the wrong platform. Nonetheless, choosing between Magento and Shopify should be quite straightforward, and both will allow you to take your webstore to the next step in preparing to answer to ever-more demanding consumers.
Indeed, to make the best of your eCommerce you might want to consider offering product personalization. The Personalized Product market is expected to reach a value of $31.63 billion by 2021 and it is no surprise that major retailers are moving to offer product personalization on their eCommerce, thanks to Mediaclip’s technology.
With a focus on helping organizations stay ahead of the competition, Mediaclip enables retailers worldwide to tap into that lucrative market by offering consumers the ability to personalize any product, without the need for additional inventory. Its proven and readily available connectors to the above-mentioned platform providers will enable you to offer product personalization in matters of seconds.
The Mediaclip Magento™ Personalization Extension and the Mediaclip Shopify™ App are both innovative connectors between Mediaclip’s Product Personalization software and, respectively, Magento’s , and Shopify’s eCommerce platforms. Retailers who want to offer an engaging product personalization experience to consumers online can now simply integrate Mediaclip’s designer with a new or existing Magento or Shopify webstore, without the need for any coding.
If you are interested to learn more about how to benefit from online product personalization for your business, you can reach Mediaclip here.