There are many eCommerce platforms but, in this blog post, I will focus on what I’ve tried or heard good feedback from other people I know – EKM, Shopify and WooCommerce.
Before I will go into any details about features and prices, I want to make a clear distinction between the type of software you can use to develop an online shop.
Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. The vendor hosts your online shop on their own servers and you pay monthly to use their software. The advantage is that you don’t need to worry about any updates because they do everything for you. Also, the majority of them come with all the features you need to create a good looking functional website. EKM and Shopify go into this category. They offer an out-of-the-box solution to create an online shop easily. Everything you need is already built-in – customizable themes, shopping cart functionalities, product management, as well as marketing capabilities. eCommerce SaaS providers also ensure that you meet PCI compliance standards.
Open-source eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Magento and Prestashop need to installed on your server and most of the time use additional extensions to make the platform work the way you want. The term open-source refers to software whose original source code is made freely available and can be modified or enhanced by anyone. Since you have access to the source code, programmers can mould the platform to fit their business needs. You will need an IT specialist to help you with this. The main advantage is that you own the software and you don’t need to pay a licence, but it’s your responsibility to maintain and correct any bugs.
If you have a WordPress website or a blog and want to add an online shop, the WooCommerce plugin will do the job perfectly (like my website), but if you need an online shop on its own I would personally suggest using a Saas platform and highly recommend EKM.
From adding your first product to managing your orders, the EKM support team will help you with all the demands of running an online business. On top of this, for the first 6 months, you will have your own dedicated Account Manager who will be on hand to get you selling in record time.
All the features you need to sell online, including a domain name, secure servers and the ability to take payments, are included in any package.
- Build like a pro – Find everything you need to build your shop in one place, with tools and features that make building a professional shop simple. Upload products, monitor stock and more – all in one place.
- Unlimited products – Upload as many products and categories as you want. There are no limits, so you don’t have to worry about incurring extra costs if you expand your product range.
- Customer login – Give your loyal customers a place to login and buy from you.
- Boost your sales with EKMPowershop eBay Integration.
- Courier integration for easy pricing and delivery.
- Powerful Marketing – Handle everything from SEO to increasing sales with all of the marketing tools and features you need. With EKM you can tell the search engines what you sell and watch your rankings climb. Submit your products to Google Shopping, create a blog for your shop, set up a loyalty points system or boost your sales with discount codes and showing related products – the possibilities are endless. You can also link all the major social networks to your shop.
- Convert more visitors – Turn more visitors into customers by creating the ultimate shopping experience. Live chat with visitors, automate ‘back in stock’ notifications and other features are included to increase your conversion rate. My favourite – The platform will remind your customers of what they have viewed in your shop to make increasing sales simple.
- Powerful product search, very accurate. You can also collect search stats to see what your customers have been searching for.
- Free migration – Coming from another provider? The EKM experts will help migrate your shop and get you back selling in no time, free of charge.
As an Official EKM Partner, I can offer you 28 days free use of the eCommerce platform to build your online shop. The below benefit will also be included.
- Free domain name (or you can transfer an existing one for no additional cost)
- Free SSL
- Free UK based support via email, phone and live chat
- Free 033 number
- Free UK based support
- Free Account Manager for 6 months
Try EKM Free for 28 days (instead of 14 days if you buy directly from EKM)
You don’t need to sign a contract to use EKM and you can cancel at any time.
Why you need an EKM Account Manager?
Your Account Manager will be by your side as a dedicated point of contact for the first 6 months. His job is to help you get your first sales.
- Help you choose the perfect theme for your business
- Assist you in creating a logo using the EKM logo builder
- Assist you in adding or importing your products
- Register or transfer your domain name
- Give marketing and social advice
- Assist you in setting up payment methods and delivery methods
- Configure the features that are most important to your business
- Be on hand to answer any questions you may have
- And much more!
Shopify is by far the most popular eCommerce platform, 500,000 businesses being powered by them. I haven’t personally used Shopify but I heard many good things about this platform.
- Accept credit cards instantly with Shopify Payments
- Automate your fulfilment process with 3rd party shipping apps
- 24/7 customer support
Shopify has 100+ professional themes to choose from (templates). Every template comes with its own intuitive settings so you can quickly and easily customize every facet of your storefront.
You can use your own domain name, or purchase one through Shopify.
Try Shopify free for 14 days. No risk, and no credit card required.
Do you think your customers are on Facebook? With Shopify Lite you can sell on Facebook and chat with your customers on Messenger, add products to any website or blog, and accept credit card payments for only $9 per month.
WooCommerce for WordPress
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress, designed for small to large-sized online merchants. While the plugin is free and easy to instal to your WordPress website, there are many extensions you may need to customise your online shop according to your needs. Please be aware that many extensions like WooCommerce Product Tabs or Bundle Rate are chargeable so you may need some extra payment when you set up your shop.
WooCommerce comes bundled with PayPal (for accepting credit card and PayPal account payments), BACS, and cash on delivery for accepting payments. If you need a specific payment gateway, you can integrate with other payment providers.
- WooCommerce is designed to work seamlessly with themes you know and love
- Unrestricted customization: Edit any part of your site – from the homepage layout to the buy button – to stand out from the crowd.
- Built-in blogging: Publish great content and build a strong brand. Use WooCommerce to integrate eCommerce with WordPress, the world’s most popular content publishing platform.
- Embed products, checkout and more on any page: Use shortcodes to add your products to blog posts, or create landing pages that go straight to checkout
- Categories, tags and attributes make products easier to find
- Product ratings and reviews – Show customer feedback directly on the product page
- Customize for your location – Set the currency, language and measurement units that are right for you.
- Product sorting and filtering – Let customers sort products by popularity, newness, rating, price or attribute to find the right fit.
- Unlimited images and galleries: Include any number of photos to show off your products. Set a featured image to highlight the best photo site-wide.
- Unlimited products: Add as many products as you want to sell – your only restriction is your inventory.
Click here for all the WooCommerce features.
Other eCommerce platforms
- Big Cartel – Great for makers with a small number of products to sell online. I haven’t used them but it looks ok for a small shop.
- Magento – Open-source eCommerce platform, that can be installed on your own domain hosted. Not my favourite. I tried Magento 2 (via a solution partner) but I didn’t find it user-friendly and it was extremely slow. Other people may have had other experiences though.
- PrestaShop – Open-source eCommerce solution, used by many businesses worldwide. It seems to be easy to use and it’s free. It can be installed on your own domain. Their recommended hosting company is 1&1, but Siteground also supports PrestaShop.
- Big Commerce – creative people from around the world have used this platform to build their online store, manage and sell their work, delight their fans and customers, and run their business their own way.
- OpenCart – A free shopping cart system. OpenCart is an open-source PHP-based online e-commerce solution that can be installed on your domain (like WordPress and PrestaShop)
I trust that this blog post gave you an overview of the main solutions to develop an online shop. If you need a WordPress website or an online shop please get in touch.