It’s no secret – eCommerce sales are growing very rapidly. According to a report by eMarketer, eCommerce sales worldwide will continue to post solid gains and reach $2.290 trillion in 2017 - accounting to one-tenth of total retail sales worldwide.
If you are someone looking to build an eCommerce store, selection of the right shopping cart software is one of the most crucial decisions you need to take. The software you choose should not only be suitable for your unique business requirements but also needs to be easy to use, should be well-supported, secure, should offer high quality and high performance. Apart from this, one also needs to consider the future growth of the business and select the software which is scalable.
Many of the eCommerce applications available today provide most of the commonly used shopping features. Having said that, there is no one size that fits all. The selection of the technology purely depends on your business requirements.
CMS and eCommerce:
If you want to build a content-based website along with an online store, then you need a CMS and an eCommerce portal. Such combination allows you to have a single administrative area where you can manage content as well as the product inventory. Some of the popular platforms which offer CMS and eCommerce functionality include WooCommerce, Drupal Commerce, Sitecore, Kentico, Umbraco and many more. On the other hand, if your focus is on building only an eCommerce platform, then you can go ahead with Magento, OpenCart, Prestashop etc.
Volume of Products:
If your website is going to host millions of products, then you need to choose the technology carefully and evaluate it from the scalability and performance point of view. In case the platform is not scalable, then it can cause issues during times when the products are being updated in the backend and customer is actively looking at the product catalog. A large product database can also hamper the site performance in case the platform is not capable of handling the load.
Most of the eCommerce solutions provide somewhat generic shopping cart features which are suitable for most of the product types. However, if you need some specific features then you need to consider a platform which provides the ability to customize. Some of such popular platforms include Drupal Commerce, WooCommerce.
If your eCommerce site needs integrate with other software solutions to enhance the shopping experience for the users, then you need to leverage some third party services to facilitate this integration. For example, integration with service providers such as Xero, SagePay, FreshBooks, Stripe, PayPal, Amazon Payments, FedEx, USPS, and UPS is required for facilitating shipping. While evaluating the eCommerce platform, do check for the availability of extensions/modules and the support provided by other apps.
Marketing Tools and SEO Support:
Online marketing is a crucial piece of the overall eCommerce success. The platform you select should support various marketing aspects such as SEO, Customer Segmentation, Targeted Promotions & Merchandising, Customer Attribute Management, Dynamic Rule-Based Product Relations, and Automated Email Marketing Reminder etc. Depending on the requirements, you can select the regular or the enterprise eCommerce platform.
The payments market is evolving with a variety of online payment options such as Credit Card, Debit Card, Net Banking, 3rd Party Payment Wallets etc. The eCommerce platform which you choose should support the payment options which you want to offer to your users.
Self-hosted or Software-as-a-service:
If you have the technical capabilities and the bandwidth to manage the eCommerce platform with your own infrastructure and development team, then you can go with the self-hosted option as it offers you more control. However, you need to remember that the responsibility of maintaining the platform, security, scalability, and performance lies entirely on your shoulders. In the case of the solutions offered as software-as-a-service, you don’t need to invest in the hardware or software procurement. You only need to pay a monthly fee for your store hosting. If you do not have access to technical resources, then SaaS platforms can be a good choice for you. Here, since you also don't need to spend time in platform management, security etc., you can focus entirely on your business without worrying about the technical aspects.
We hope this post helps you in selecting the right eCommerce platform for your requirements.