We always tend to search for what is considered to be “the best” – no matter the case. It’s both human nature and day-to-day business procedure. However, in 2021, when it comes to identifying the best eCommerce platforms, multiple solutions that can be considered “the best” come across our minds. We’ll be talking about 5 of the best eCommerce platforms right after we discuss what is such a platform and how it can help enhance your business.
What is an eCommerce platform?
In order to keep your online store in a top-notch form and generate as much revenue as possible when selling online, you may want to consider using not only a decent but one of the best eCommerce Platforms. We’re here today to help you decide which eCommerce platform may be best for your business, and the criteria to consider when choosing one. But first: What is an eCommerce platform?
An eCommerce platform is the heart and the soul of your online business, being able to automatically and precisely manage all the back-end functions of your online shop in a great manner. For example, using eCommerce websites may help you benefit from errorless accounting, clearer order management, better inventory management, and far greater customer service.
An eCommerce platform is a suite of harmonized software solutions that enables you to sell products and services online as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Gone are the days of on-premise physical shops. Welcome to the era of eCommerce platforms!
Why use an eCommerce platform?
Still not convinced? Perhaps the best way to understand the tremendous utility of a properly set-up eCommerce platform is to look at the intricacy of online stores in general. To run an ecommerce store you have to undergo many processes, starting with building an attractive and intuitive website and going all the way to the other end of the sales funnel, with processes like accepting payments and managing stocks and checkouts.
An eCommerce platform allows you to manage and improve upon all of these processes above – and many more – basically saving you time and money for dealing with each aspect individually. These platforms have all the components to help you with selling online and manage your daily processes, as such, you can solely focus on operating and growing your online business. Using eCommerce platforms always tends to be cheaper in the long run, this being a huge advantage for any online store owner.
More advanced eCommerce platforms also try to facilitate your customer’s purchasing process, help with the constant prevention of system failures, automatically tend to underlying technical issues, and help you troubleshoot them with ease as they pop up. All of these ecommerce features will help you focus on finding more and more creative ways to boost your revenue while also pleasing your customer database.
Ecommerce platforms are always worth your investment, especially the best one out there. Spoiler alert: surely you heard about Shopify. If not, we’ll have more on it later in the article.
How to choose the best eCommerce solution for your business
So, how to choose the best eCommerce solutions for your business when you want to build an online store? What are the criteria to follow when making such an important decision for the future of your online store management? We know, figuring the best solution to meet your business’ day-to-day needs can be difficult, especially since moving your store content from platform to platform is time and money-consuming. If you want to make a correct choice, then it has to be an informed choice. So let’s evaluate the following criteria when it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform.
The Interface may be the single most important thing to look out for when choosing an eCommerce platform – not to be misunderstood, all other aspects are important – but the interface is where you will build your store from and where your customers will spend the most time. It’s what will make or break your online store.
As such, opting for a user-friendly and intuitive interface for website creation is an absolute must for any of the eCommerce sites out there. Some solutions will make creating the store a hellish experience – stay away from those platforms until they improve their interface. The best eCommerce platforms will have covered the user-friendly aspect as a top priority.
However, interfaces have a subjective factor, so the best thing to do would be to go through the free trials of your selected platforms and find one that feels convenient for you.
Most of the available eCommerce platforms of 2021 offer almost endless premade templates for the designs and themes of your online store, so that all you need to do is select one and your online store’s appearance will follow change quickly and easily. These templates can be free or paid, so check them out in due time before picking a platform for your eCommerce business.
Of course, if you have a design vision of your own, a great eCommerce platform will offer you all the necessary tools to create it yourself. As such, when choosing a platform, look for a balance between premade templates and great design tools for your own visions.
Store management system
One of the core features of every eCommerce website is the store management system, it being the one thing that differentiates online web stores from all the other types of websites. To consider that you have a fully-functioning shop, you need three major frameworks:
- A product management system – this will let you upload products to your shop and manage all the listings. The best eCommerce platforms allow you to employ bulk uploads, categorize and map products, and set dynamic catalog filters like price range, color, size, etc.
- An order management system – this system will be responsible for the processing of your customer orders. Advanced eCommerce platforms offer the possibility to track orders, create email notifications, and APIs for product shipping.
- A return management system – this helps you take care of your return policy. For maximum efficiency, it should include return types and rules, and the ability to place and approve requests, print invoices, update statuses, etc.
Proper business conduct and constant revenue increase can only be found when being able to accept payments without complicating the life of your customers. Always keep in the back of your mind a list of the currencies and payment methods you and your customers are comfortable operating with.
Choosing an eCommerce platform also means being careful with the payment gateway your eCommerce platform will be able to use. The payment gateway is the security software that processes your customers’ payments into your own account. It also determines the accepted currencies.
Speaking of secure software systems, the overall stability and security of your eCommerce platform is another crucial aspect you have to look out for. First of all, as a rule of thumb, you always NEED to protect your customer data. Data breaches and leaks can run you out of business in a blink of an eye.
Your chosen eCommerce platform must have strong security measures. Firstly, it must be compliant with the global PCI security standards – a 12-piece set of requirements for websites that work with payment information. Secondly, inform yourself regarding the platform’s SSL certificates (files that let a browser securely process transactions).
The best eCommerce platforms offer more security, such as protection from fraud or DDoS attacks.
Offering quality support to your customers is a must. But when operating your entire business through an eCommerce platform, you become a customer yourself. As such, when faced with technical issues, the way your chosen platform handles support is also a prime criterion to look out for.
Does the platform offer any on-site documentation? Do they have extensive libraries of FAQs, how-tos, and guides that can walk you through the main issues without needing to contact support? Do they go the extra mile and have live chats or forums?
All these are important criteria when it comes to choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business.
The best eCommerce platforms
We gathered a shortlist of 5 of the best eCommerce platforms in 2021 trying to find the top eCommerce platform. To no one’s surprise, Shopify still is the most popular eCommerce website builder, even though plenty of other platforms are as advanced as Shopify is. Let’s see how eCommerce platforms compared look like and which one is the best platform for small businesses:
Shopify is so great because it doesn’t act just like an online store builder or a basic tool to sell your products. Shopify is an eCommerce platform that offers lots of ways to quickly and securely launch your web business. The Shopify App Store ensures that you will never run out of options when it comes to storing design and functionality as long as your pockets don’t run out of money to spend.
Shopify is a subscription-based platform that allows anyone, regardless of their starting resources, to set up an online store and start selling products right away. Shopify store owners can even sell in already owned physical locations using the secure Shopify POS.
Magento is an eCommerce platform that provides online businesses with an extremely flexible shopping cart system, as well as complete control over the design, content, and functionalities of their online stores. Magento comes pre-packed with advanced marketing, SEO, and catalog-management features.
Magento has the ability to scale with your shop even if you only have a few products up for sale, and can as easily expand its functionalities over thousands of products if needed. It offers a wide array of functionality plug-ins and design themes that will enhance your customers’ experience.
BigCommerce is another great eCommerce subscription-based platform that can help your business to set up an online store and sell your products on the whole wide web. BigCommerce runs on its own servers, which is a big advantage, as you won’t have to pay separately for web hosting or install anything locally on your computer to properly use it. Everything can easily be managed from your web browser, anytime, anywhere.
Bigcommerce comes along with a good range of customizable templates that help you thoroughly design your online store, and even throws in some marketing tools. BigCommerce exists mainly for people that want the easiest possible way to set up an online store, with close to no previous web design skill. However, there are plenty of customizable options for more tech-savvy business owners, too.
WooCommerce is the most popular open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress that was created for online stores of any kind of size or scope. WooCommerce makes creating and managing an online store extraordinarily simple, and has good levels of flexibility/scalability, along with crucial features for any online store, such as inventory and tax management, secure payments certificates, and complete shipping integration.
Why is WooCommerce the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress? Because its integration allows for you to also add great SEO value to your online store, which increases your overall eCommerce profitability.
Volusion is among the oldest eCommerce website builders out there. Volusion presents itself as a complete eCommerce website builder packed with web design, marketing, and business tools. You need to subscribe to a monthly plan in order to access them, which range from cheap to expensive.
Volusion is fully cloud-based and offers all the basic functions needed to operate your own online store, as well as some features that set them apart from their main competitors. The main reason why Volusion is still very popular is the fact that it has many features built directly into the dashboard, which scores major points when it comes to ease of use. You will never have to purchase separate, costly add-ons, through a mobile app store.
These are 5 of the best eCommerce platforms available in 2021. Some are newer, some are as old as 2 decades ago, but all of them can help you tremendously with growing your online store business. In the end, it all comes down to taste – and how much you are willing to spend to increase your online store revenue.
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The “best platform for your business” is a myth, since every platform presented today has its pros and cons in the eCommerce platform comparison, and every store is unique. However, as a whole, the most popular one is Shopify, simply because you can integrate countless addons into your online shop.
All the platforms presented today are great for small businesses since
they are highly customizable and have the ability to scale according to your online store’s current resources.