The Most Common eCommerce Platforms
Starting out in eCommerce can be incredibly overwhelming not only is there intense competition in most niches there is also a complex technical environment to navigate.
Understanding which platform to build your eCommerce store on can spell the difference between a low-maintenance, low-stress, profitable store or a store with constant technical issues, poor user experience and low conversion rates.
Knowing the most common eCommerce Platforms and understanding their pros and cons will help you avoid starting your eCommerce journey the wrong way.
In this short guide, our Hampshire eCommerce web design experts at BytesizeMe will run you through the four major eCommerce platforms that exist and explain the pros and cons of each then recommend the platform we believe is ‘far superior’ for almost all eCommerce companies whether new or established.
Ecommerce Platform Features Explained
When it comes to eCommerce platforms, choosing the right one can make or break your online business. It’s crucial to select a platform that meets your business needs, both now and in the future.
An eCommerce platform should provide simplicity in terms of set up and store management, customization versatility, integration with third-party apps and tools and scalability capacity to accommodate the future growth of your business.
According to a recent study by Statista, the global eCommerce market is expected to reach $6.38 trillion by 2024. This highlights the significance of selecting an eCommerce platform that is equipped with the right features to help you succeed in this ever-expanding market.
The Simplicity of the platform is key, if you need external help to manage the day-to-day operation of your business because the platform requires a high degree of technical know-how for its basic operation you should avoid this. The processing of sales should be as simple as a click of a button if it’s not avoid that platform also.
Versatility; most eCommerce platforms are ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions which means you will be given a standardised store initially which you must customise to suit your business’s needs.
This means you need to make sure that the platform you are going to use has an ecosystem of developers that create apps and services to help optimise your store as you need. If you have to develop these customisations yourself avoid that platform as ultimately internal or outsourced development can be very costly and can simply be avoided altogether by going with the right platform.
Finally, Scalability – can the eCommerce platform handle the scale or growth of your business? Will the platform tie you into increasingly costly monthly subscriptions if your business grows beyond a certain point?
Can the platform handle lots of traffic going to lots of different product pages at the same time, if you get a hint of either of these two issues with scalability you should also avoid that platform. Getting penalised for increasing your business performance is a huge red flag which unfortunately happens far more than it should.
The Top eCommerce Platforms In The UK
All 4 platforms have strengths and weaknesses but ultimately for any new business in the UK looking for an ‘all-in-one’ eCommerce solution there is one solution that stands head and shoulders above the rest – Shopify.
Before we explain why we believe Shopify is the best option for new eCommerce businesses we will explain the other three platforms and explain their strengths and weaknesses.
Wix As An eCommerce Solution For UK businesses
Starting out with the most basic of the four platforms, Wix is a simple drag-and-drop website-building platform designed with the least tech-savvy business in mind. If you have ever used a basic website builder in the past Wix is very similar to this format.
Within the limitations of the platform, you can add and remove elements you want however customisability is very limited. Wix’s eCommerce platform is designed with a very small product catalogue in mind, for less than 10 products it can be a nice easy starting place for a business taking its first steps into eCommerce. However, it lacks very important elements like key inventory management tools.
For businesses with 10 or more products, there are far better options for roughly the same monthly price. While great for a total beginner for any serious business we would not recommend Wix.
- Simple Drag & Drop Interface
- Easy to Setup
- Great for Beginners with no technical knowledge
- Limited customisability
- Limited Inventory management
- Limited scalability
- Free Trial: No
- Basic Plan Price: $23
BigCommerce as an eCommerce Solution for UK Businesses
BigCommerce has the larger business in mind compared to Wix with far greater functionality and versatility. BigCommerce allows for global retail and the ability to sell on third-party marketplaces so is an appropriate choice for businesses with international clients or with the intention of growing internationally.
While it has a great suite of tools it has two major flaws. The basic set-up packages you get with BigCommerce are not suitable for most businesses just to their amateur feel forcing you into the purchase of expensive theme packages. You also have a further limitation with BigCommerce in that you are forced to take their more expensive monthly packages as your business grows.
- Versatile Platform
- Adapted to handle large enterprises
- Professional-looking themes
- WWell-rounded suite of tools to help any size business
Big Commerce Cons:
- Restrictive pricing structure
- Expensive premium themes that are essential for optimal performance
Free Trial: Yes – 15 Days
Basic Plan Start Price: $29
WooCommerce As An eCommerce Solution for UK Businesses
If you already have a WordPress website and are happy with the website but want to add an eCommerce functionality to your site then WooCommerce is a good starting point. The very basic package is free with the option to pay for added functionality. Unlike the other three services, WooCommerce is actually an add-on to WordPress sites rather than a ‘stand-alone’ service.
WordPress is primarily used for hosting content, not eCommerce and while WooCommerce is great for the beginner it is limited in its ability to handle the demands of a high-performing eCommerce store.
With the right help from professional web developers, you can optimise WooCommerce to perform at a level similar to the ‘out of the box’ solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce – however the incursion of additional costs + dependency on a developer makes WooCommerce a poor option for any serious long term eCommerce Business.
- Excellent add on for existing WordPress businesses looking to expand into eCommerce
- Free for the basic system – great for testing
- Significant requirement on developers and external apps to provide basic functionality
- Limited ability to customise
- Standardised yearly subscription fees for apps incurs high upfront costs
- Amateur feeling eCommerce experience.
Free Trial: Yes – Indefinite with no add-ons
Basic Plan Start Price: Estimated monthly fee from WooCommerce $30 (due to basic add-ons)
Shopify as an eCommerce Platform for UK Businesses.
Finally the preferred eCommerce platform of choice the world over – Shopify. Shopify like BigCommerce is an ‘out of the box’ eCommerce solution. Meaning it will provide you with the domain name (website URL i.e bytesizeme.co.uk), the website hosting, the eCommerce store, the back-end (where you process sales, make changes to the site) and a whole ecosystem of free and paid themes and applications.
For example, this Shopify theme (click here) is completely free and you can access it as soon as you open a Shopify account.
The big benefit of Shopify in our minds is that from day one your site can look extremely professional with minimal effort or cost compared to other eCommerce solutions out there.
On top of the professional appearance, the ease of use is second to none. Once your store has been set up correctly processing sales and managing inventory comes easy with just a simple click of a button.
Shopify also comes with a huge ecosystem of third-party apps and themes that allow a near-endless amount of store optimisation. The support from the apps is vetted by Shopify to ensure a great service is provided by all app developers so that you are never left struggling with app issues.
On top of that there is a 24/7 dedicated Shopify support team you can call at any time to discuss site or business issues completely for free.
Shopify enables the ability to sell in different countries and in different countries without the need to change anything on the site with a simple click of a button.
You can also set up multi-channel payment options so can integrate PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay alongside the native Shopify payments processor. There is also integrations with popular ‘buy now pay later’ providers such as Klarna and Clearpay.
The pricing of Shopify lines up with the industry standards. Coming with a basic free trial version, then a $5 basic version then a $29 standard plan scaling up to a $79 advanced plan for businesses with lots of staff members working on the site simultaneously.
- Professional-looking stores out of the box
- Great value for money
- Large third-party developer ecosystem
- 24/7 live support
- Sites optimised for conversions as standard
- Sites optimised for SEO out of the box
- Excellent back-end management system.
- Multiple payment processers to integrate
- Fast and secure sites when hosted on Shopify.
- Not the easiest set up process for individuals with no previous eCommerce experience
- Limited ability to take payments in some countries (but still more than other eCommerce Solutions)
- Free Trial Available: Yes – 2 weeks
- Basic Plan: $29
As you can see Shopify is the superior value offering at the moment in the eCommerce platform market. For businesses of any size, whether large or small Shopify seems to be the best fit overall. With superior ease of use, superior website performance, superior look and feel to the hosted website, greater payment processer integration alongside 24/7 live support and a huge third party developer network to ensure your site performs to the best of its ability all of the time.
While setting up your store correctly can seem daunting our team of eCommerce experts at BytesizeMe specialise in setting up eCommerce solutions for businesses.
Learn about our comprehensive Shopify Setup Service where we will completely setup and optimise a Shopify store for you from scratch, loading all your products and then training you on how to use the platform at the professional level.
Ecommerce Set Up Service
Read more articles on eCommerce and Shopify from our in-house eCommerce Experts:
- What Is Better Than Shopify For Starting A New eCommerce Business?
- How To Start A Small eCommerce Business In The UK
- Best eCommerce Store To Start For New Businesses
- The Best Marketing Strategy For New eCommerce Retailers
- Building a New eCommerce Website Checklist
- Ecommerce Web Design Agency in Hampshire
Further Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Reading
Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation to see how we can help you get started with your eCommerce store – Contact Us
Ecommerce Platforms FAQ
The most popular eCommerce platform is Shopify, known for its user-friendly interface and extensive customisation options. It provides a comprehensive solution for businesses of all sizes, making it a top choice for online retailers worldwide.
For beginners, Wix eCommerce is an excellent platform due to its easy-to-use drag-and-drop website builder and attractive templates. This platform simplifies the process of setting up an online store, making it an ideal choice for those new to eCommerce.
In the UK, Shopify remains a popular choice for its versatility and extensive features, catering to businesses of various sizes. However, other platforms like WooCommerce and BigCommerce are also well-regarded, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs when selecting the best eCommerce platform for your business.
The top eCommerce website, in terms of global reach and sales, is Amazon, which dominates the online retail market with its vast product range and customer base. Its success is attributed to factors such as convenience, competitive pricing, and fast shipping options.
Yes, Shopify is quite popular in the UK, as many businesses utilise its user-friendly platform and robust features to establish and manage their online stores. Its versatility and scalability make it a top choice for a wide range of UK-based retailers, from small start-ups to large enterprises.
In 2023, eCommerce remains a lucrative opportunity for businesses, as the online retail market continues to expand and consumer preferences increasingly shift towards digital shopping experiences. By choosing the right platform and strategies, businesses can capitalise on this growing trend and establish a strong presence in the eCommerce landscape.
Ecommerce can indeed be a promising side hustle, offering opportunities to generate additional income through the sale of products or services online. However, it requires dedication, effective marketing strategies, and an understanding of the target audience to achieve success and stand out in a competitive market.
To choose the right eCommerce platform, consider factors such as your budget, technical expertise, scalability requirements, and the platform’s available features and integrations. By carefully assessing your business needs and comparing various eCommerce solutions, you can select the most suitable platform to build and grow your online store.
Having your own eCommerce website can offer numerous benefits, including greater control over branding, customer experience, and the ability to customise features to suit your business requirements. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as time, financial investment, and technical expertise when deciding if building your own eCommerce website is the right choice for your specific situation.
The cost of a good eCommerce website can vary greatly depending on factors such as the chosen platform, required customisations, and additional features or integrations. Prices can range from a few hundred pounds for a basic setup using a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, to several thousand pounds for a fully customised, professionally designed online store.