Choosing an ecommerce platform can be bewildering, with each trying to outdo the other with offers and options. It’s not surprising there has been such growth in ecommerce providers, with two billion people spending online in 2020 and e-retail sales exceeding US$4.2 trillion globally.
While all platforms offer similar core services, quality and ease of use vary. This article will step you through the features we feel are most important when you’re selecting a new ecommerce platform.
We’ll then look at five of the most popular platforms to see how they perform when measured against those features.
Five Essential Features For Successful eCommerce
We’ve selected five fundamental offerings necessary to help you build a successful ecommerce store.
There are plenty of other features that run a close second, but if you don’t get these five right, you’re starting with a severe disadvantage.
#1 SEO friendly
When you first open your online store, you’re a small fish in a very large ocean, so your chosen platform must rank well for SEO to get the best search results. Some well-known platforms have a less than stellar performance on SEO.
While they may offer lovely themes and great apps, it’s all for nothing if no one ever gets to see them.
#2 Mobile friendly
Mobile use continues to overtake desktops, with mobile accounts accounting for more than half of web traffic worldwide. Traffic to retail sites comprises over 65% of mobile traffic, and over 50% of sales occur via mobile.
When selecting your e-commerce platform, ensure that the site and its themes are optimized for mobile use. Research has shown that users decide to stay or go from a web page within ten seconds. If your website doesn’t display well, you could potentially lose 60% of your customers.
#3 Payment options
Checking out and paying are two areas where clients walk away in droves. Limited payment options cause 6% of shoppers to abandon their shopping cart.
Know your client base’s demographic and preferred payment options to select an e-commerce platform supporting your needs. Some platforms leave you to integrate payment options, while others supply everything you need – at a cost.
Online sales attract fraudsters, with research suggesting that between 2018 and 2023, retailers will lose around $130 billion in card-not-present fraud. Select an ecommerce platform that uses payment card industry data security standards (PCI DSS). It also helps if they’re certified to data security standard ISO/IEC 27001:2013.
Finally, ensure they use transport layer security (TLS), secure sockets layer (SSL), and HTTPS authentication as a core offering.
Pricing is a difficult subject, as it’s not only how much you pay each month for using the platform, but what features are included in the price and the limits applied to each feature. When you’re just starting an e-commerce store, keeping your costs to a manageable level is critical.
However, as you begin to grow, you need to know how scalable your plan is or whether you can upgrade at any time. You don’t wish to take the cheapest option to start and find you’re paying excessively as your business grows.
How Do Popular eCommerce Platforms Perform?
We’ve created the following table to help you see at a glance where we believe each of the top five platforms excels and where they might improve. We’ve ranked each on a scale of one to five, with five being outstanding.
|SEO||Mobile Friendly||Payment Options||Security||Pricing|
As you can see, only BigCommerce and ShopWired have hit the highest mark in 2 and more categories. But why so?
Let’s look at these platforms in more detail.
Top 5 eCommerce Platforms Analysis
Publicly-listed BigCommerce has been operating since 2009 and has a broad community of users and developers. It’s a nicely designed product for new users and experienced hands, offering an essentials package and an enterprise plan.
- Easy to use
- Great SEO performance
- Blazingly fast and looks good on mobile devices
- Huge choice of payment gateways
- SSL and abandoned cart are not available on the basic plan
- Expensive as your store grows
You may know Wix as a website builder platform; however, it also provides a simple e-commerce platform for small businesses. It offers a broad range of templates and low monthly subscriptions.
- Easy to set up and use
- Simple pricing
- Low-priced entry-level plan
- Reputation for poor SEO
- Not a stellar mobile performer
- Templates are not readily customizable
Shopify must be one of the best-known e-commerce platforms, designed for ease of use while providing great-looking store templates. It’s a favorite for drop-shippers, fast to load, and easy to use.
- Simple to get started
- Thousands of integrations to enhance your store
- In-depth analytics to analyze your store’s performance
- Not strong on SEO and content marketing
- Adding integrations can get expensive
- Rigid checkout design which is unable to be customized
ShopWired is a UK e-commerce platform established in 2013 that has gained great popularity worldwide, with a strong footprint in the US and UK markets. It’s a great ecommerce option, offering strong performance and ease of use.
- Excellent pricing
- Strong business-to-business features
- Very fast loading on desktops
- Offers features free that others charge for
- SEO needs improving
- Won’t work with Amazon
Adobe Commerce was previously known as Magneto and is another large e-commerce platform targeting small, mid, and enterprise-level businesses. It operates in the same league as Shopify and BigCommerce but has two options, open-source software for small businesses or an enterprise offering for the larger business.
- Offers an open-source version for small businesses to get started
- Thousands of integrations
- A large number of payment gateways
- Many of the integrations are expensive
- Switching to the enterprise version is not cheap
- Middle of the road performance when it comes to mobile devices
One Extra Step To Protect Your Online Business
Despite the security your chosen ecommerce platform provides, transferring your data between their server and your computer can still expose you to risk.
Yet, there are things you can do to enhance your security. An important strategy is using a virtual private network or VPN to protect your identity and business data.
Installing a VPN for windows creates an encrypted tunnel to a secure server operated by your VPN provider before forwarding your data safely to its destination.
Encrypting your data and hiding your location and identity gives you anonymity, preventing hackers and malicious software from accessing your information.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the hundreds of options and extra functionality that ecommerce platforms offer.
In this article, we’ve covered the core list of features we believe you should prioritize to bring substantial benefit to your business.
They’ll attract customers, keep them safe and engaged, and make it easy for them to spend money on your business.
Beyond that, remember to protect your security and find a monthly subscription that works for you.