How Do I Choose the Best eCommerce Platform for My Business?

Posted 09.05.2024

By Pete Bingham

With so many options, features and pricing structures, selecting the right eCommerce platform can present a difficult decision for businesses wanting to establish or improve their online shop.

 

What Is an eCommerce Platform?

An eCommerce platform is a content management system (CMS) designed specifically for online product sales. While it can be integrated into your existing website, it can also serve as the primary framework for your new site.

While all eCommerce platforms offer the same essential functionalities, such as product catalogue management, secure payment processing, inventory tracking, and more, there are some differences, both significant and subtle, that can affect your choice, depending on your business needs can affect your choice.

In this guide, we look at the factors that businesses should consider when choosing their eCommerce platform, exploring the diverse options available and highlighting key considerations for making an informed decision.

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Which eCommerce Platforms are Available?

There are many eCommerce platforms out there that cater to different business requirements. The most established, and popular, choices are probably Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento (now Adobe Commerce), but there are also several emerging platforms like Wix and Squarespace that are gaining popularity and evolving with advanced features.

 

What to Consider when Choosing an eCommerce Platform

Each platform has distinct features, pricing models, and target audiences, allowing businesses to select the most suitable option based on their unique requirements. So how do you choose? And what should you look for?

 

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Cost

Cost is usually the first thing to come up when choosing an eCommerce platform, but there are varying pricing structures associated with different business requirements and sizes.

Additionally, there are costs associated with growth, added functionality, hosting, transaction fees and commission. So it’s crucial to consider the scalability of any pricing plans to ensure they can support your eCommerce business growth without significant cost increases.

 

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WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is often considered the more budget-friendly option as it is free to use, however, it does require a separate hosting plan and most projects also often require additional plugins, which may have recurring monthly fees.

 

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Shopify:

In contrast, Shopify offers convenient monthly subscription plans ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a month, and all your essential features are covered within the cost of your plan. Shopify does however charge a commission on sales.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento):

With Adobe Commerce, it gets a little more complex, as their pricing operates on a quote-based model. However, as Adobe Commerce is squarely aimed at larger corporations and is generally considered more complex to run, you can probably assume it’s going to cost a little more.

 

For Smaller Businesses:

For startups and small businesses, Wix or Squarespace are very budget-friendly options, even offering free plans (albeit with advertisements and storage constraints). However, these platforms are often limited in terms of customisation options and are less SEO-friendly as a result.

So while cost plays a pivotal role in decision-making, it’s vital to avoid focusing on short-term expenses. Instead, prioritise your long-term business growth and find the platform that can efficiently facilitate and accommodate your business’s growth over time.

If in doubt, speak to one of our extremely experienced web developers who will guide you through the options and help you choose the best platform for your business.

 


 

Business Size and Goals:

As mentioned above, when selecting the right eCommerce platform for your business, it’s crucial to keep your business size, goals, and scaling plans in mind when choosing. Every decision you make should align with these considerations to ensure long-term success.

As with any business decision it’s crucial to strike a balance between ambition and practicality; neither growing too quickly, nor being limited by restrictive plans or technology. Your chosen eCommerce platform should offer the flexibility and scalability necessary to support your business’s evolution over time.

Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer excellent scalability and robust features tailored to businesses of all sizes.

 

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WooCommerce:

WooCommerce is the only sensible choice for businesses already running WordPress, as it provides seamless integration with the popular CMS. As such, the sky’s the limit when it comes to scalability – you are only limited by your budget.

 

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Shopify:

Shopify offers a range of pricing plans designed to accommodate businesses at various stages of growth. Whether you’re a startup or a large enterprise, Shopify scales alongside your business, providing additional features and capabilities as you expand.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce:

Adobe Commerce is an extremely powerful eCommerce platform designed for enterprise-level businesses with complex requirements. While it may not be as user-friendly as WooCommerce or Shopify, Adobe Commerce offers unparalleled scalability and customisation capabilities.

 

For Smaller Businesses:

Some smaller businesses may not have plans for extensive growth or complex eCommerce operations. Instead, they prioritise having an easy-to-update, straightforward online store without the need for advanced SEO capabilities.

Platforms like Wix or Squarespace are well-suited for these businesses, offering user-friendly interfaces and simplified setup processes. However it is important to understand they may not be ideal for businesses with aspirations to scale significantly in the future. If this does become a priority, transitioning to WooCommerce or Shopify may be necessary.

Ultimately, the choice of platform depends on the specific goals and trajectory of the business. Small businesses should assess their immediate needs and future aspirations to determine the most suitable eCommerce solution that aligns with their growth strategy and long-term objectives.

 


 

eCommerce Features

To find the right eCommerce platform for your business, a good place to start is by evaluating the essential features offered by each platform. Consider your specific business requirements, additional costs, and the level of support needed to effectively manage your online shop.

If a platform doesn’t meet these fundamental needs, it’s time to assess the costs of plugins and integrations to determine which option offers the best balance of affordability, ease of use, and performance.

 

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WooCommerce:

WooCommerce, built on the WordPress framework, provides a comprehensive set of features tailored for businesses of all sizes.

Key features of WooCommerce include:

  • Product Management: Easily product and category management with Woo’s intuitive interface.
  • Secure Payment: Support for various payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe etc.
  • Scalable: Customisable with a wide range of extensions and plugins to enhance functionality.

 

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Shopify:

Shopify on the other hand is purpose-built for eCommerce and as such it excels in providing a comprehensive suite of plugins and features for businesses of all sizes.

Key features of Shopify include:

  • User-friendly: Well known for its user-friendly interface, setting up a store requires next to no technical knowledge.
  • Built for eCommerce: Shopify includes built-in features such as abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, and more at no additional cost.
  • Excellent Support: Shopify’s support is included in your pricing plan.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce:

Adobe Commerce is renowned for its advanced capabilities but may require technical expertise to fully leverage its potential.

Key features of Adobe Commerce include:

  • Scalability and Customisation: Designed for big commerce and ideal for large enterprises with complex eCommerce requirements.
  • Advanced Marketing Tools: Access advanced marketing features such as personalised customer experiences, segmentation, and automation to drive sales and customer loyalty.

 

For Smaller Businesses:

  • User-Friendly: Wix and Squarespace focus on usability, with a drag and drop approach to almost everything.
  • Simple eCommerce: Whilst this does mean there are limitations, it does mean it’s quick and easy to start selling.
  • Excellent Support: Both platforms offer support as part of your pricing plan.

 


 

SEO Capabilities

Look for eCommerce platforms that prioritise SEO features, such as customisable URLs, meta tags, and sitemaps to enhance online visibility and organic search rankings. You should also consider any built-in SEO tools or third-party plugins like Yoast SEO to optimise product pages and content.

 

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WooCommerce:

If you were to ask the SEO community or most digital marketing agencies, they would likely agree that WooCommerce stands out as the most SEO-friendly option among these platforms. This is because WooCommerce is built on the widely used WordPress CMS, which is renowned for its robust eCommerce SEO capabilities and its many well-established SEO plugins.

 

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Shopify:

Shopify offers various solid SEO capabilities straight out of the box, making it a user-friendly option for businesses, although as yet it doesn’t offer quite the same level of SEO customisation and flexibility as WordPress / WooCommerce – it’s still a great option.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce:

When it comes to Adobe Commerce, its SEO capabilities are just as good as WordPress / WooCommerce but may require more technical expertise to leverage effectively. Don’t forget that Adobe Commerce is designed for scalability and complex eCommerce operations and as such there’s often a steep learning curve, especially for businesses without extensive technical resources or experience.

 

For Smaller Businesses:

Both Wix and Squarespace offer basic SEO settings, such as customisable meta tags, to improve search engine visibility and user experience. However, as businesses grow and require more sophisticated eCommerce features or advanced SEO strategies, they may eventually outgrow the capabilities of these platforms.

 


 

Integrations:

When it comes to integrations and compatibility with third-party plugins and support, all major eCommerce platforms excel in providing robust options. Additionally, with the assistance of a developer, you can integrate your eCommerce platform with custom CRM systems, APIs, or other workflows to streamline operations and meet specific business requirements.

 

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WooCommerce:

WooCommerce’s community-driven development offers a wide range of plugins and extensions through WordPress. From SEO tools, marketing automation, or shipping integrations, WooCommerce’s extensive plugin library has you covered with both free and paid options.

 

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Shopify:

Shopify’s App Store features a wide selection of apps and integrations to enhance your online store’s functionality. From payment gateways and order management systems to customer support tools and analytics, Shopify offers comprehensive solutions to optimise your eCommerce operations.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce:

Adobe Commerce’s Marketplace is tailored for enterprise-level eCommerce with specialised integrations like ERP integration, omnichannel retail, and advanced automation.

 

For Smaller Businesses:

For smaller platforms like Wix and Squarespace, while there are integration options available, the range may be more limited compared to larger eCommerce platforms. This can impact customisation capabilities, but if it’s simplicity and ease-of-use you’re after, look no further.

 


 

Customer Support:

The level of support your business needs is entirely dependent on the technical knowhow of your team and whether you have your own technical and development support team, or require support as part of a package.

 

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WooCommerce:

As WooCommerce is open source, it benefits from an active community support network, so provided you have some development and technical capacity, there are always answers and help in their forums and guides.

 

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Shopify:

Shopify offers excellent customer support as part of its package. Depending on your subscription level, Shopify provides access to 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat. Shopify is a great option if you don’t have your own development team.

 

Adobe Magento

Adobe Commerce:

Whilst generally perceived as more complex than its competitors, Adobe Commerce offers premium support services tailored for enterprise-level businesses. Additionally, Adobe Commerce offers various training resources, knowledge base articles, and developer documentation.

 

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an eCommerce Platform

Avoid these common pitfalls when selecting an eCommerce platform:

  • Ignoring scalability and future growth potential.
  • Overlooking important additional features and the cost implications.
  • Overestimating (or underestimating) your team’s capacity and the technical skills required to update and maintain an eCommerce website.
  • Focusing on costs instead of long term business needs.
  • Prioritising ease-of-use over functionality, which may lead to limitations in customization and desired output.
  • Disregarding SEO capabilities.
  • Forging ahead with an eCommerce platform without consulting an expert.

 

Which eCommerce Platform is Best for SEO?

When it comes to SEO, platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Adobe Commerce offer excellent features to optimise product pages, URLs, meta descriptions, and site speed. WooCommerce, being a WordPress plugin, integrates seamlessly with SEO plugins like Yoast SEO and is generally favoured in the industry.

 

Which Platform is Best for eCommerce?

The “best” platform depends on your specific business needs. WooCommerce is the ideal solution for those running WordPress and with SEO in mind. Shopify is renowned for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive support, making it ideal for beginners. Adobe Commerce offers unparalleled customisation and scalability for enterprise-level businesses but comes with a steep learning curve. Deciding which is best requires research and often a discussion with an experienced eCommerce agency.

 

Which eCommerce Platform is Best for Small Businesses?

Small businesses often benefit from user-friendly platforms like Shopify, Squarespace or Wix, which require minimal technical knowledge to set up and manage. These platforms offer intuitive interfaces and affordable pricing plans but often lack decent customisation options or extended functionality.

 

In Summary – The Bottom Line

 

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Why Choose WooCommerce?

Best for growing businesses running WordPress looking to add eCommerce functionality.

Pros:

  • The best choice if you’re already running WordPress
  • Free, open source software
  • Easy to set up, update and maintain
  • Great for SEO

Cons:

  • Even though it’s technically free, there are often extra costs involved including hosting, additional plugins etc
  • Support is community-based so whilst there is likely help out there, you often have to implement it yourself.

 


 

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Why Choose Shopify?

Best for business requiring an all-in-one easy-to-use eCommerce platform

Pros:

  • The most user-friendly option
  • Everything in one monthly subscription
  • Built for eCommerce
  • Excellent support and very little need for technical knowledge

 

Cons:

  • Good for SEO, but still lacking some important functionality
  • Can get very expensive as you scale

 


 

Adobe Magento

Why Choose Adobe Commerce?

Best for larger businesses with a more complex product or marketing strategy and a development team at hand

Pros:

  • The best choice for larger enterprise level businesses
  • Far more advanced eCommerce, marketing and automation tools
  • Backed by the Adobe Corporation

 

Cons:

  • Very complex to manage, requiring a good technical understanding
  • Can be expensive due to its scope and complexity

 


 

Why Choose Wix or Squarespace?

Best for small businesses looking for a simple eCommerce and not aiming to expand in the mid to long-term.

Pros:

  • Simple, drag and drop interface
  • Cheaper than some of the bigger platforms
  • Great support

 

Cons:

  • Not very scalable
  • Often limited in terms of customisation and SEO capabilities

 

Your eCommerce Partners

Choosing the best eCommerce platform is an important decision that impacts the success of your online business and requires serious thought and research. By considering factors like scalability, features, SEO capabilities, and costs, businesses can begin to make informed choices that align with their goals.

At Frogspark, we specialise in eCommerce web design and development, assisting businesses in implementing tailored eCommerce solutions that drive growth and enhance online visibility. Contact us today to explore how we can elevate your eCommerce journey.

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