Best eCommerce options to power your online store

Selling things is how most folks make their living. Whether it’s digital or physical items, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to sell them online.

There are a lot of options available to sell things online. In this post, we’re going to highlight — and discuss — the best options.

Woocommerce

If you’re already using WordPress, there is no better option than WooCommerce. It’s made by the company that makes WordPress, it easily integrates into your site and matches your design, and is very easy to set up your inventory.

There are a lot of perks to using WooCommerce, too. From its own plugin ecosystem to selling digital downloads, WooCommerce checks off all the boxes.

Here’s a list of reasons why you’d want to use WooCommerce for a WordPress powered online shop:

  • WooCommerce is free. While there are paid add-ons, the core functionality is absolutely free to use.
  • It’s incredibly secure. You just need to have an SSL certificate (which many hosts provide for free these days, anyway).
  • It’s customizable. You can do anything you want with it, with the right know-how (or being good at Google).
  • It’s yours. You’re not relying on any third party system that may start charging fees, or increase their costs.
  • Extensions, Plugins, Add-ons. Whatever you call them, there’s a ton of them that can make WooCommerce do stuff it doesn’t do out of the box.
  • Analytics. WooCommerce tells you a ton about what your customers do, buy, return, etc. It’s incredibly powerful right out of the box.
  • It’s familiar. Since it’s powered by WordPress, you won’t be doing anything you’re not already familiar with when it comes to adding or managing your products, marking orders as complete, or managing your store in any way.
  • Tons of payment options. You can accept Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net and countless other methods for accepting online payments. You can even let people pay you via check or cash if you want to!

There’s so much you can do with WooCommerce, but there’s also so little you can do. You can install it, add your first product, set up a payment gateway, and be selling your product within minutes. Literally minutes.

Shopify

Much like WordPress, Shopify is its own platform. It’s an all in one solution that requires absolutely no code to get started. It’s a wonderful solution if you’re starting from scratch and want to get your products or digital items for sale online. Just bring your own domain name, sign up with Shopify and you’ll be selling the same day.

As of this article, their feature list includes:

  • 70+ professionally designed themes.
  • Mobile ready
  • Built-in blogging
  • Use your own domain name.
  • Drag and drop page builder
  • Full HTML and CSS editing (should you want to customize the pre-built themes)
  • Free SSL
  • Credit cards and Paypal accepted.
  • Built-in shipping rates and taxes
  • Multiple language support
  • And about a zillion more features

In addition to being your online store, Shopify also handles (or helps with) things like marketing, inventory management, SEO, web hosting (including unlimited bandwidth!), analytics and reporting, a mobile app, and 24/7 support.

Without knowing code of any kind, you can get your shop set up and customize its colors, fonts, sizes, etc. It’s excellent for beginners and developers alike.

Like any all-in-one solution, Shopify comes with a price tag, though it’s not ultra expensive to get started. As of writing, their plans start at $29 per month and go up to $299 per month.

The entry-level plan gets you 2 staff accounts (people who can login and update orders, process shipping, etc.). Their higher plans give you up to 15 staff accounts and offer additional perks like cheaper credit card transaction fees, bigger shipping discounts, and better reporting.

Also like WordPress, there are 2500+ add-ons for Shopify as of now. Add-ons let you add additional functionality to your shop, such as:

  • Sale pop-ups
  • Cross-selling discounts
  • Exit pop-ups
  • Facebook ad management
  • Product reviews
  • Volume discount management
  • Wholesale pricing
  • Social networking channels
  • Print-on-demand
  • MailChimp integration
  • And lots more great ones here!

Shopify is a great solution for anyone who wants to sell online but doesn’t want to worry about managing multiple systems. With payments, shipping, product management, and marketing all in one place, Shopify will simplify your e-commerce life, without doubt.

Magento

No list of eCommerce platforms would be complete without mentioning Magento. If all the other services in this post were cars made by Ford, Magento would be a Ferrari. Fast, powerful, shiny, and uber expensive.

Their pricing is biggest barrier of entry for most folks.  While there is a “Community” edition that’s free, it’s very limited and locks out many of the powerful features that makes Magento great. Also lacking in that edition? Access to support. Which you almost need to have while setting your store up. Magento is not for the faint of heart.

Getting into their paid options, their pricing starts at $22,000 per year. I suppose that’s fine if you’re selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in products online. But if you’re just getting started, that price is prohibitively expensive for most folks.

So, for all that money, what does it offer? A lot, really. It really is the Ferrari of eCommerce platforms. Out of the box, you’ll get:

  • Tons of features, such as multiple stores, multi-language and multi-currency.
  • Very user-friendly for the people managing orders and inventory.
  • Infinite flexibility – like any product where you have access to the code, the only limitation on what you can do, is how much you know about code (or how good you are at Google).
  • Very scalable – Magento can easily handle millions of visitors (depending on how powerful your hosting behind Magento is).
  • Marketing built-in.
  • SEO functionality built-in.
  • Order management.
  • Product management.
  • Very flexible testing capabilities.

As with anything, with the pros come the cons. And Magento has a bunch, including:

  • Cost. If you want all the features, you’ll pay out the nose.
  • Limited pre-built themes. Custom themes or pre-packaged themes can get expensive quickly.
  • Time to launch – it’s very slow to get going due to how complex the setup is.
  • Developers are expensive – expect to pay $200+ an hour for someone who’s familiar with Magento.
  • Hosting – you need top-notch hosting to get the most out of Magento.
  • Support isn’t the best – even if you’re paying for the premium version, Google results indicate that support lacks the knowledge to get to the bottom of most issues.

Overall, Magento is great. If you have both the time and dedication to do it the right way. If you want something quick to go to market with, you’ll want to look at another option on this list.

BigCommerce

The lesser known of those on this list is BigCommerce. While still a great option to build your online shop, BigCommerce is just not as popular as some of the other options. That doesn’t mean it’s not great, though!

Much like Magento, it’s incredibly powerful, at a cost. Though, with BigCommerce, the cost is mostly time to build, not the actual cost. As of this post, their plans range from $29.95 to $249.95 per month, depending on the features and functionality you need for your shop.  All plans include hosting, which saves you considerable money at scale.

It comes with many features you’d expect:

  • Inventory management
  • Sales reporting
  • Free templates
  • Digital and physical goods sales
  • Paypal and other payment options
  • SEO built-in
  • Discount codes and coupons
  • Complete customization of HTML and CSS
  • Automated Emails
  • Shipping cost calculators
  • iOS and Android apps

With the good, comes some bad, too:

  • You’re limited in how much (dollar wise) you can sell per year, based on your plan
  • No RSS functionality
  • It takes months to build out and launch a store
  • Lots of features are locked behind add-on pricing
  • Custom themes are expensive (up to $1000 in some cases)

Overall, though, a good solution with a generous trial period to see if it meets your needs. It’s a great option if you want something that’s all-in-one and can scale with your business as you grow.

Want some help building your online store?

Let us know! We can help!

If you’re not sure where to start, how to build, or how to manage an online shop, don’t worry, we know it all. Just reach out to us and we’ll help you get everything working!

Cover photo by Negative Space

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