Ecommerce platforms essentially assist online businesses and shoppers in managing a myriad of functions such as inventory, creation of accounts, wish lists, maintenance of order histories and assessing margins. While the involvement of a solution provider such as Pay Pal may suffice a smaller ecommerce portal, growing businesses that keep innovation as their benchmark, and introduce newer products everyday may need a more robust support.
The most popular solutions offered in this space are by Magento Go, Shopify, BigCommerce and Volusion. However, each one of these tools has its own set of pros and cons.
1. Magento Go
Considering Magento Go is the most advanced self hosted ecommerce platform, setting up a Magento Go ecommerce website requires expert involvement. Built by the developers for the developers, one needs to have advanced knowledge in HTML/CSS/PHP to optimize the tools of this platform to create a website.
To be able to take advantage of everything Magento Go has to offer, one needs to have a minimum of intermediate expertise in HTML/CSS/PHP. Also, Magento Go as a platform is not able to take advantage of the extensive plug in library offered by other variants of Magento. In this aspect, Shopify and BigCommerce are more preferred due to their relatively more extensive plug-in library. Magneto Go supports shipping outside of the US in a number of countries with its tie-up with UPS
Pros of Magento Go
- Can be customized to a greater extent.
- Easy to use reporting and inventory management solutions
Cons of Magento Go
- Cannot leverage extensive plug-in library that is offered for Magento Community Users.
- Demands a steep learning curve for even simply activities such as installing a theme.
- No in-built blog functionality like Shopify.
Among all platforms, this one is the easiest to set up. One does not require much expertise in coding to create a customized portal that is effective. The website can be created without having to write a single line of codes. However, due to the ease in setting up, this platform offers minimum room for customization.
Another flaw in this platform is the fact that they expect developers to use a ‘Shopify’ specific programming language to customize templates. Shopify comes with a very limited template library of only about 200 templates. This platform focuses on shipping products only within the US hereby limiting your delivery bandwidth.
Pros of Shopify
- Extremely easy to setup
- User-friendly when one needs to make small customizations
- Affordable and provides sufficient technical support
Cons of Shopify
- Limited options for customization
- Relatively small library of templates
- Fewer options for reporting
This platform is able to effectively compete with Shopify with respect to ease in setting up of online store. This platform too, does not expect you to be an expert in coding to create a customized website.
A big advantage over Shopify is that BigCommerce does not expect you to learn any special programming language for customization of templates. However, getting creative with your design on this platform may not be as challenging as it is on Shopify.
The built-in templates on this platform are also not as aesthetic as the ones offered on Shopify. However, developers are able to purchase third party themes that allow the ecommerce websites to stand out in comparison.
BigCommerce is able to facilitate shipping all over the world.
Pros of BigCommerce
- Setup is Extremely easy
- Allows you to use HTML/CSS for editing the themes
- Provides support for International Shipping
Cons of BigCommerce
- Built-in Templates are not aesthetic enough
- The customization features on BigCommerce are more complex than those offered by Shopify
- They offer limited support for third party applications.
Volusion too is quite intuitive and easy to use. The installation process is quite painless. This platform is written in ASP.NET, making it a Windows based ecommerce solution. With a little bit of research, developers are able to set up a website on this platform within minutes
With basic expertise in standard programming languages, developers can create some extremely appealing ecommerce interfaces using Volusion. With innovative features such as vZoom image resizing and other such plug-ins and templates, the Volusion platform is the most customizable and consequently appealing to online shoppers.
Volusion too facilitates international buying and shipping.
Pros of Volusion
- Easy to Setup
- Easily customizable
- Good for international shipping
Cons of Volusion
- Ideal only for Windows based ecommerce platforms
- Does not provide a blogging tool like that one which is available in Shopify
- Fewer content management features
With every platform offering its own set of advantages and drawbacks, selecting the right platform is a personal decision that needs to be taken in sync with your business goals.
My personal choice from the above set of ecommerce platforms will be Shopify, simply because of the ease of setting it up and the cool inbuilt blog feature.
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