Why do the eCommerce platforms exist?
eCommerce platforms are solutions tailored to meet the needs of online merchants. In today’s overcrowded online shopping ecosystem, many different types of eCommerce platforms exist making it difficult to make a selection. Not being mutually exclusive, the below types of platforms exist, today.
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Hosted eCommerce solutions
These are the most clear and tidy solutions if you are new to eCommerce. No need to find a hosting platform and deal with the hassle. You open an account, choose a template, decide on the name of your shop and add a few products. Voila! Your online store is up and running in a few minutes. Shopify, BigCartel, SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix and BigCommerce are all great examples to hosted eCommerce platforms. As expected, these are SaaS solutions offering X day free trials. Even in some cases, it’s free to use the product or some freemium pricing models may exist.
Some enterprises still prefer on-premise eCommerce solutions. Unless you’ve got a team to take care of building the infrastructure, dealing with the security issues and constantly doing the necessary upgrades, this will not be the perfect solution for you. These are usually costly solutions for the small businesses to afford. Magento Enterprise, SAP Hybris and IBM WebSphere offer both on-premise solutions to big retailers.
Content Management Systems
The content management systems have been around for ages but currently most of these platforms have transformed into eCommerce platforms. While signing-up, you choose for what purpose you’re going to use the software. With the help of a CMS, you may as well launch your own company website, start writing your blog or selling online. WordPress, Weebly, SquareSpace are great examples to CMS platforms that have added eCommerce capabilities on top of their existing value propositions.
With billions of users and company pages, Facebook has grown into a huge online shop in itself. Tools like Ecwid and BigCommerce help small businesses sell on Facebook. With the help of these solutions, Facebook pages are evolved into online stores. The shopper is able to see the products, add them on her shopping cart and end the purchase without leaving Facebook. This may be regarded as a kind of social shopping revolution not only helping online shoppers reach the items when they want but also helping online merchants reach their customers using a totally new sales channel.
How to choose the best eCommerce platform for your business?
That decision totally depends on the current state of your online business, your short-mid term expectations and your resources. For the small online merchants, starting with an easy to use hosted eCommerce solution or a CMS might be the safe bet. On-premise solutions are slowly losing the battleground to their hosted competitors or finding a way to upgrade their functions to hosted options. Whichever platform you choose, make sure that it gets constantly updated with new features and offers a rich marketplace for apps and plugins.