Which ecommerce platform is the best ?
A question we get asked many times. “It depends is the best answer” as there are so many factors that go into choosing the platform.
You will expect to see a top 10 of ecommerce platforms. This is the wrong approach and the reason why many ecommerce operators do not reach their max potential or worst fail.
If you want to scale your ecommerce ( and who doesn’t ), then the actual front end platform is not that important as most ecommerce platforms all do the same thing as they are mature at this point 20+ years after the first ones were released. You need to make sure it can handle the following.
- your most complex product in terms of options and configuration
- your most complex shipping setup and rules
- your most complex tax rules
- your most complex pricing rules – especially important on b2b sites.
- your busiest hourly transactions – be realistic and honest with yourself – will you really buy a superbowl advertisement ?
So the quick answer is – they are pretty much the same its the running costs that are hugely different depending on your scale. Some will have more than others out of the box. All will need technical configuration. Some are more suited to different verticals. Some will scale some will not. Do not fall into the trap of selecting a platform and then making it squeeze into your requirements. Its like trying to slim into a suit – theoretically possibly but quicker to buy a new suit.
Ecommerce systems fall into 2 technologies. Own hosted ( WooCommerce, Opencart, CS Cart, Prestashop, Magento, OsCommerce etc etc. or Saas ( shopify, BigCommerce etc ) .
In simple terms. Saas you will pay per use and costs will increase with the success of your site – i.e. the costs will not scale. Own hosting you pay for the tech stack and costs stay the same regardless of the volume*.
In Saas the monthly fees get expensive as addons are billed per month per usage and there is a % fee on every sale.
We would see Saas being good for low volume tiny stores and then for huge volume stores that will have super bowl moments.
In selling on marketplaces the fees can be up to 35% of each sale. Margin is king and its the juice that keeps your business running.
More important are the supporting systems linking into your ecommerce site. If these are not fit for purpose then scaling ecommerce is impossible as more sales requires more manual tasks which means there are no economies of scale and no incentive to scale up beyond a certain point.
You will need a fit for purpose
- stock control system with api end points ( dont make the mistake of letting your accounting system do this – few can handle the complexity. )
- accounting system that will manage pricing with api end points ( pricing is the account systems function )
- logistics management for processing of orders and customer management ( again not the function of an accounting system – specialist logistics ans shipping software linked to the stock control system is what is required here ) Never let the good inwards department do the good outwords too. Read our specialist article on ecommerce logistics here.
You will save yourself a fortune by engaging in an ecommerce environment audit and planning session with an experienced professional who has planned out large ecommerce operations in the past. Trying to learn systems while running your business is too much. Those with 20 years or more ecommerce experience are in a unique position to advise and design these systems for you.
Lastly make sure your ecommerce consultant declares where and if they are getting referral fees from as this will colour the recommendations that they will make. You want a platform agnostic approach.