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Which platform is best for your eCommerce website?

By Andy Toone | February 19, 2024

When it comes to your business transactions, you’ll want to make the process as smooth as possible. The choice of the right eCommerce platform for your business is akin to selecting the perfect location for a physical store. Is it in a high traffic area? Is your website design effective? How does it look? Are people likely to drop by? These are the kind of questions you need to ask about your eCommerce platform too. 

Your eCommerce platform is all about visibility, accessibility, customer experience, and aligning with your business goals. But with so many options to choose from, finding the best UK eCommerce platform for your specific needs can sometimes be a bit tricky. So, what is an eCommerce platform, and how do you choose the right one for your business? 

 

What is an eCommerce platform?

An eCommerce platform is essentially the tech magic behind any online store. It’s a package of tools letting you build your website, list your products, rake in orders, and get paid, all without needing to be a tech whiz. 

You’ve got everything from designing your shopfront to managing your goods, dealing with customers’ purchases, handling payments, shipping out orders, and even promoting your products or services with marketing tricks. Plus, it keeps things safe and sound for you and your shoppers.

What’s useful about these platforms is how they grow with your business. You start small, and they’ve got your back as you expand. They’re a budget-friendly way to get your shop online, letting you reach customers far and wide, without skimping on security or making things hard for your shoppers. 

Whether you’re just kicking off or you’re looking to take your online business to the next level, picking the right eCommerce platform can really set the stage for your success online, keeping things simple so you can focus on what you do best.

 

Does your eCommerce platform align with your needs?

Before diving into the variety of available eCommerce platforms, it’s essential to understand your business’s unique needs. Consider factors such as the size of your product catalogue, expected traffic, scalability, and specific features like payment gateways, SEO capabilities, and integration with other tools. 

A clear understanding of what your business needs will help you filter through the options more effectively.

 

Key features of the best eCommerce platform for small businesses

The best eCommerce platform typically offers a blend of robust features, scalability, security, and user-friendly design. Look for platforms that provide:

  • Ease of use: An intuitive interface for both you and your customers.
  • Customisation: Options to tailor the look and feel of your site. Attractive, well-designed websites are bound to draw in potential customers.
  • Scalability: Ability to grow with your business without significant performance issues.
  • Security: Strong measures to protect your site and customer data.
  • Support: Accessible and helpful customer service and resources.
  • SEO and marketing tools: Features that help you attract and retain customers.

 

Making sure you choose an eCommerce platform that comes with the above features means that managing your transactions should be more straightforward. 

 

Can you make an eCommerce website from scratch?

Yes, you can make an ecommerce site from scratch. But if you’re not familiar with site building, we’d recommend hiring a web design professional. 

This is because the process involves several steps, including planning your business model, choosing the right ecommerce platform, designing your site, setting up payment processing, and adding products. For a decent eCommerce web design and launch, you’re looking at spending upwards of £4,000 for your website

We’d only recommend you try to build your own eCommerce website if you have technical skills, especially in web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and potentially a backend language like PHP, Ruby, or Python). 

 

Paid commerce platforms

Paid platforms typically offer more comprehensive support and advanced features out of the box. They can handle higher volumes of traffic and transactions more reliably and offer more customisation options. Examples include Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento Commerce.

Shopify

Think of Shopify as the bread and butter of the eCommerce world. It’s super user-friendly, which means if you’re just dipping your toes into the online selling pool or you’re all about getting your shop live with minimal fuss, Shopify’s your go-to. 

Shopify offers endless possibilities — you get tons of themes and apps to play around with, making your store look great and work smarter. And if you ever hit a snag, their customer support team is like that knowledgeable friend who’s always there to help you out, anytime.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is like the middle ground that’s got its act together, perfect for businesses that have outgrown their starter spaces but aren’t quite empire-sized yet. It’s got the muscle for more complex needs—it’s always helping you to get those top search engine spots, plus it’s packed with features right out of the box too.

No need to tack on a bunch of custom fittings, as BigCommerce already has a solid foundation ready for you to build a seriously competitive online store.

Magento Commerce

Magento Commerce, now part of the Adobe Commerce team, is the bespoke suite of eCommerce platforms. It’s for those who have very specific, maybe even intricate, visions for their online store. Magento doesn’t just offer customisation, but it also demands it too. 

This is heavyweight tech that can sculpt your dream store, but just like mastering any art, it comes with a learning curve. You’ll likely need a developer, or maybe a team of them, to bring your vision to life. But once you do, the sky’s the limit on what you can create. It’s for the dreamers who are serious about making those dreams a tangible reality.

For those looking for a free eCommerce platform, try Magento Open Source. Magento Open Source offers extensive customisation options and a robust set of features. However, it’s best suited for businesses with access to technical resources, as its complexity can be a challenge for beginners.

 

Free commerce platforms

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to get started with your eCommerce business, there are plenty of free platforms to explore, too.  These can be especially appealing for startups and small businesses. However, it’s worth noting that free eCommerce platforms may require more technical expertise to set up and maintain in the long-term.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress, making it an excellent choice for those already familiar with WordPress. It’s highly customisable and suitable for businesses of all sizes, but it does require your own hosting, which can add to the overall cost.

Paid vs. free eCommerce platforms

When considering the cost, eCommerce platforms can be broadly categorised into paid and free options. Each has its pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your business model, budget, and specific needs. We’d recommend opting for a paid eCommerce platform.

 

The best commerce platform for your business

Choosing the best commerce platform for your eCommerce website depends on a balance of factors, including cost, technical skill requirements, specific business needs, and scalability. 

For businesses seeking ease of use and quick setup, Shopify stands out as a strong contender. For those looking for a free platform with flexibility and are willing to invest in hosting and development, WooCommerce presents a compelling option.

 

eCommerce-focussed SEO from NMG

If you’ve chosen the ideal eCommerce platform for your business transactional needs, and you want to maximise your reach, we can help with your web design and all things SEO — from technical audits to engaging web copy and blog articles. . 

At NMG, we get that powerful eCommerce SEO is more than just throwing keywords around. It’s about building smart, SEO-rich content that pulls in visitors and converts them into customers.

Looking to spice up your product descriptions, blog posts, or overall web presence? Our team has the expertise to optimise your content and supercharge your SEO strategy, helping your online store shine in the digital marketplace. 

Contact our friendly team  to get started.

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