Sometimes it seems like new e-commerce platforms are multiplying faster than e-commerce storefronts themselves. Between Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and more, there are more e-commerce platforms competing for your hard-earned dollar than ever before.
In a way, this is great news. More competition means better service at lower prices. In another way, however, it makes it more difficult for an e-commerce entrepreneur to know which service to go (and stick) with.
Continue reading below for a quick run-down of the new e-commerce platforms you can choose from in 2020!
Shopify is the Canadian King Kong of e-commerce platforms. Launched in 2004, Shopify hosts over 1 million online shops in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. Its huge size and long pedigree ensures that you’re getting a reputable and reliable platform when you sign up, but some may be turned off by its hand-holding
Shopify brings with it several great reasons to choose the platform over its rivals.
- Excellent customer support
Reviewers rave about Shopify’s 24-hour chat support, excellent telephone customer service representatives, and online help center
- All-in-one package
Shopify provides e-commerce business owners with a complete package. If you want to design your storefront, market your wares, and review your analytics all on a single platform, then Shopify might be right up your alley.
To use Shopify, you don’t need to know a lick of code. From creating your store to reading your stats, you can do it all from their easy-to-use interface without learning HTML, CSS, or any other language.
If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to get your hands directly on the code, Shopify will let you do that. It offers advanced modes for users with knowledge of HTML, CSS, and the like.
There are a few downsides to using the Shopify platform. Their importance to you will vary depending on your circumstances and preferences.
While some might love the ability to access shop design, marketing, and analytics all in a single piece of software, others may not like Shopify’s all-in-one approach. That’s because, while each tool in Shopify’s toolbox is a passable, even good, solution, there are more advanced tools out there for most of the functions you’ll need to carry out.
So if you’d prefer to Macgyver your own solution with multiple pieces of software, you might not need the holistic product that Shopify provides.
For a pricier and more robust solution than Shopify, many turn to BigCommerce. True to its name, BigCommerce is aimed at e-commerce entrepreneurs who do brisk business and need an e-commerce platform that can keep up.
As a result, it’s significantly more expensive than some of its competitors.
BigCommerce comes with big advantages.
- Multiple currencies
Unlike many of its rivals, BigCommerce allows you to sell in more than one currency. This is great for e-commerce firms that sell products that are equally popular in more than one country.
- Great SEO features
BigCommerce allows you to edit page headers, titles and URLs directly from its platform without digging into the HTML. This can help optimize your site for search engines and lead to higher traffic.
There are a few drawbacks to BigCommerce. We’ve already hinted at one in our comments above.
BigCommerce comes with a big price tag. The BigCommerce Pro plan will run you almost $300USD per month. Unless you’re moving a lot of product, that might not be worth it to you. Of course, if you’re opting for the beefy Pro plan, odds are that you are selling a lot of stuff, so the price might not actually bother you.
- Weak lower tiers
Some features that we consider absolute necessities, like shipping integrations and abandoned cart features are unavailable at the lower tiers. When combined with the high price of the best tiers, some users might find themselves going without features that could seriously improve their sales.
For those with a bit more technical know-how, the open-source Magento might be an excellent choice. It boasts a library of over 5,000 extensions and plug-ins, but that flexibility comes with the reality that development time and budgets will be significantly longer and larger, respectively.
Magento definitely has its upsides. These are just two of the benefits of using the storied, open-source solution.
- Great for established small- and medium-sized businesses
This relatively new e-commerce platform works really well for established small and medium businesses who have the budget and cash flow to fund a small web development project. Because the product is open-source, development costs will be less than what they otherwise would be if you had to pay for the underlying code.
Because Magento is open-source and comes with so many extensions, the sky is really the limit when it comes to designing your store. In the hands of a skilled developer, a Magento storefront can look, feel, and function however you want it to.
Magento’s flexibility comes at a price in the form of increased cost and time.
Even though it’s open-source, using Magento will be more expensive than using an off-the-shelf new e-commerce platform. The increased complexity leads to higher development costs.
You’ll pay in more than dollars and cents as well. It will take more time to develop a Magento storefront than an off-the-rack Shopify or BigCommerce solution.
Perfect for those who run their site on WordPress (which millions of people online already do), Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin that helps users create a robust e-commerce solution on a budget.
WooCommerce has a ton of benefits and we’ve listed the biggest ones below.
- WordPress functionality
Because it is, at its core, a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce is a fantastic solution for people already using the WordPress content management system (CMS). It fits neatly into the
Like Magento, WooCommerce is open-source software. It’s free to download and use.
There are more than a few downsides to using only WooCommerce for your e-commerce solution.
- No phone support
If you encounter a problem or hiccup in the development or maintenance of your WooCommerce store, you won’t be able to phone up a human for answers to your questions. You’ll need to file a ticket and use their chat support.
- Steep learning curve
Because this is open-source software, there is a learning curve involved. You’ll need to get up to speed as you go with WooCommerce by using the online help and support forums and user community. This can be daunting for those without a background in HTML, CSS, or programming.
Squarespace, based in New York City, focuses on delivering an extremely user-friendly and off-the-rack e-commerce solution for small- and medium-sized e-commerce businesses. It’s inexpensive, easy-to-use, and offers a ton of support and help for new users.
While we’ve already touched on some of the benefits of having Squarespace as your e-commerce platform, we’ll quickly describe just a few in a bit more detail.
- Easy on the wallet
Squarespace is very affordable. Basic plans will run you less than $20 per month, while a Commerce plan (which most e-commerce sites will need) starts at $30 per month. Compared to BigCommerce, that’s a steal.
The downsides are few but not insignificant with Squarespace.
The extremely user-friendly nature of Squarespace doesn’t lend itself very well to an extraordinary degree of flexibility. Generally speaking, you get the features that you get and you’re stuck with it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t get a ton of themes and options for your site. We just mean to say that you’ll have fewer options than, for example, a Magento developer would have.
- Few advanced features
Similarly, the focus on useability reduces the number of advanced features offered by Squarespace. Your opportunities to dip into the underlying code will be limited. Even where you can do this, we wonder why someone with coding experience would use a solution that’s tailor-made for people without the ability to code.
E-commerce company owners really are spoiled for choice in 2020. New e-commerce platforms are popping up by the day, and the options that already exist run the gamut from highly customizable open-source solutions to off-the-rack, user-friendly storefronts. There’s something for everyone in today’s e-commerce software environment.
We strongly suggest that you choose wisely when going with a new e-commerce platform. You’ll need one that suits your circumstances and goals. It can be expensive and time-consuming to change your solution once you’ve become established, and a little bit of careful preparation at the outset can save you a big headache later on in the game.