Ecommerce has absolutely exploded in popularity especially with the Covid-19 pandemic upon us.  For the few that were still hesitant to put a credit card into a website and order online before March of 2020, they are now ever grateful for the opportunity to not have to take the risk of physically going into a store to purchase what they need.

Everyone has seen news & press on how this effective way of buying and selling is transforming the traditional brick and mortar store into an online hub. But why do businesses need to build an ecommerce website if their physical stores are already generating good revenue?  In today’s competitive business world, it is challenging for a company to survive if it doesn’t have a compelling online presence that includes Ecommerce.

What Type Of Ecommerce Website Does My Business Need?

One of the biggest challenges is navigating the many available types of software to build your ecommerce store and figuring out which is the best fit for your type of product or service, budget, level of skill, and your type of business in general.

Let’s compare the top 6 ecommerce software types below:

Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide. With millions of ecommerce businesses powered by Shopify, this amazing platform generated over 900 million US dollars in merchant solutions in the fiscal year 2019.

With Shopify, creating an online store is a matter of a few hours. Just sign up, choose a theme, upload a product and service, and you are done. Thus, it is a quick drag-and-drop store builder that allows users to set up an online shop, start selling, and earn.

Pros of Shopify:

  • Versatile platform (can be used by start-ups and well-established businesses alike)
  • 24X7 support
  • Sell products via the online store or other social media platforms
  • Well-optimized for mobile devices
  • Real-time sales statistics
  • Over 70 themes available
  • Breeze to learn
  • Basic site is only $29/month plus 2.9% + .30 USD per transaction
  • Shopify Advanced is $299/month and allows for more 3rd party shipping options, reporting and transaction fees go down to 2.4% per transaction.
  • 24/7 Support

Cons of Shopify:

  • You are leasing/renting your website from Shopify; you do not own the website
  • You are paying them for merchant processing plus a % of your monthly sales to Shopify
  • You are limited by their template structure so it is more difficult and expensive to completely customize it to work for your business model
  • It is best for more simple, straightforward ecommerce business models
  • Price: Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, with no credit card required. The pack starts from basic ($29/month) to advanced ($299/month).

Square

Have you been looking for ways to build an ecommerce website for your physical store? Well, Square is the best choice! As this platform is partnered with Weebly, it doesn’t offer a website builder itself. Square will redirect you to Weebly first. Then, you would be able to create a store that comes with Square pre-installed.

This versatile platform provides you with easy access to all the orders, customer lists, sales reports, deposits, etc. You can even pay your employees via Payroll. Aside from managing your sales, you can also use Square for marketing your business.

Pros of Square/Weebly:

  • Best for selling in-person and online.
  • Good customer management system
  • Allows you to create coupons, bulk emails, newsletters, etc.
  • Easy customization

Cons of Square/Weebly:

  • You do not own the website and it must stay in the cloud of Weebly stores
  • Strict template based so no deep customization is possible
  • SEO can be tricky since you cannot get into the codebase

Price: The price for this platform starts from 2.9% + $.0.30 /transaction. The basic package starts from $ 12/month Weebly pro plan.

OpenCart

OpenCart is a wonderful ecommerce platform that offers everything you need to create and manage online stores. It isn’t a website builder but an open-source software that can be installed to your existing site to add ecommerce functionalities.

With OpenCart’s admin dashboard and simple interface, you can manage everything easily. Another great thing about OpenCart is, it has over 13,000 themes, extensions, and modules. Thus, if you want to integrate something with your ecommerce store, you can find it on the OpenCart.

Pros of OpenCart:

  • Allows total customization.
  • Free to download and install to your website.
  • Dedicated technical support.
  • Easy to use

Cons of OpenCart:

  • Moderate learning curve for site admin
  • Not as many features and add-ons as compared to similar software (ie; WordPress)
  • Less professionals to choose from when building in this software due to less popularity in the coding world

Price: The software is free for unlimited products. However, the paid extensions start from $20 + each. The transaction fee depends upon the payment gateway.

WooCommerce / WordPress

WooCommerce is another free-to-use, open-source WordPress shopping plugin. While Shopify is the biggest name in the US ecommerce software market today, WooCommerce is among the major competitors that boast a huge market share of 28.24 %.

This software is best for small businesses that have a site on WordPress, or those who operate on a tight budget but want to have an online store. There are myriads of third-party themes or plugins that make it flexible to entertain the needs of the users.

WooCommerce Pros:

  • Mobile-optimized shopping
  • Discounts and coupons
  • Catalog management
  • Geo-location support
  • Shipping options, calculator
  • Product reviews, etc.
  • Extremely user-friend admin interface; easy to manage products, customers and sales
  • Free, open source software and highly customizable to fit your exact business type (by an experienced coder)

WooCommerce Cons:

  • WooCommerce doesn’t have an email or phone support. You must retain a WordPress developer to provide support (costs between $50-$250/month depending on options)
  • It is best for smaller stores of under 400-500 products

Wix

Wix is a cloud-based website builder that lets users create an online store via drag-and-drop tools. There is a wide range of designs and templates, making it easy for beginners to build an amazing website hassle-free.

If you want to create an inviting online store but don’t have access to a proficient web designer, Wix is the solution. It is easy-to-use and offers robust ecommerce functionality to fulfill your needs.

Pros of Wix:

  • Product galleries
  • Mobile-optimized
  • Shipping options
  • Payment options
  • Abandoned car recovery. Etc.

Cons of Wix:

  • You do not own your website; it is leased / rented from Wix and cannot be moved anywhere else
  • You are bound by their templated system so full customization of front-facing site as well as features that differ from their sales template is difficult, if not impossible
  • SEO is more difficult since you cannot get into the core code system

Price: It is free for 14 days. The basic package starts from $23/month. The transaction fee may apply based on the payment gateway.

Magento

Magento is the least user-friendly ecommerce software available but is also by far the most robust.  It’s free, open source software but don’t let the free price tag fool you as you will definitely need expert level professionals to build your website for you.  It’s perfect for larger-scale ecommerce stores (Over 500 products) or any products that require complex options to calculate a final price and SKU.  Magento Ecommerce is the number one choice by manufacturers because of the hundreds of features it offers from allowing your customers to ‘build’ their product online and have the price change with each option chosen and for it’s ability to offer unlimited levels of pricing based on the customer type like wholesale, retail and everything in-between.  Shipping rules can also be built to specification as complex as needed to calculate correct pricing by linking into your own shipping accounts on UPS, Fedex, USPS, etc.

Magento also has add-ons that can allow it to sync seamlessly into your ERP software for two-way sync on customer records, product updates and more.  Web Casa Design has built some of the most complex Ecommerce websites using this software for everything from building your own custom windows to buying hazardous materials that have very complex shipping rules.

Magento Pros:

  • Unlimited options for customizing products and/or services
  • 1000’s of extensions to integrate with 3rd party software from seamlessly
  • Can handle a large catalog of products with unlimited categories, sub-categories and structure.
  • Perfect for wholesale/retail websites as many different customer groups can be added all with their own individual pricing.
  • You own your website outright.  It is not leased or rented from any 3rd party and can be moved anywhere.
  • You control payments and can use any merchant account like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc. and nobody but that credit processor takes a cut of sales.
  • It’s open source software so can be built and maintained by any qualified Magento coder anywhere.

Magento Cons:

  • Admin backend is not user-friendly so training will be required for a website owner to manage his own inventory.
  • It will require a Magento coder with a high level of skill to put develop a great, smooth operating ecommerce website for you.
  • Hosting will be more expensive if you have a large catalog as Magento is a large, complex piece of software that requires robust hosting to keep it running fast.
  • Monthly maintenance will be required from an experienced Magento coder to keep things running smoothly and keep software & security updated.  Average price to keep a straightforward Magento site running smoothly runs in the $500 range but is well worth it as it keeps malware at bay.

Price: Magento Community is free, open source software.  The Enterprise edition has scaled pricing depending upon options.   Price to build an effective website runs between $25,000 + depending upon options.

Now that you know the best platforms to build an ecommerce website, it’s time to choose the one that fits your needs. Know your needs, budget, and resources that indicate which platform will be the best for ecommerce website development.