If you’re a small business owner looking to start an e-commerce website, the options available to you can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know which one is going suit your needs, let alone make you stand out from the crowd. Each of the different software packages in this short list of 5 Best E-Commerce Software has its own qualities and advantages which will aid you with specific business needs.
1) WooCommerce for WordPress
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that has experienced huge growth since it began. Built off of the most popular Content Management System in the world, WooCommerce is both a feature rich e-commerce software and an extremely powerful blogging platform. WooCommerce is free and easy to install. You can have an online store with PayPal up and running in a matter of minutes. Unlike many other e-commerce software packages, you do not need prior knowledge of coding and web development. There is no complicated coding making it perfect for someone setting up their first online store. It’s also SEO friendly and its rapid growth really speaks for just how effective this software is.
Like any other software, it does, however, come with some downfalls. This plugin is not supported on some WordPress themes. This can be problematic as changing your Word Press theme could be a hassle. Furthermore, although it is free to install, many extensions, including some which are essential, require payment. For example, the default payment method is PayPal. If you wish to add credit or debit card payment, this requires a purchasable plugin.
The simplicity of this software also means it is less advanced. It exists on WordPress and cannot be used as a stand-alone platform meaning less functionality compared to other alternatives. The analytics are also not comprehensive however this issue can be resolved with plugins if you are prepared to pay.
If you already have a WordPress website and wish to sell a small selection of products then this software is definitely for you. If you have big plans for growth however and forecast a future with thousands of products, this may not be your best option.
Unlike WooCommerce, Shopify has tonnes of free features to help you manage your online store, and doesn’t even require any coding to get started.
The software does come at an initial price, with plans starting at £22. However, you can take advantage of a free trial period of 14 days. This includes everything you need to launch your online shop but a cheaper version is also available which lets you sell goods on Facebook. Of all the e-commerce software available, Shopify offers one of the most affordable packages for small businesses as you get a lot for your money.
Shopify is easy to use and can be set up within seconds, moreover the simple dashboard makes it easy to complete specific tasks. Again, you don’t need any technical skills to build your website and Shopify offers a 24/7 help centre if you do get stuck. You can customise the 100+ ready made themes and add your own logo and company colours. Shopify offers tools such as an online shopping cart, social media selling, analytics and mobile access which will allow your e-commerce business to thrive. It also offers SEO tools to help your products reach people searching for them on Google. The servers are fast and Shopify boasts a 99.94% guarantee that your site will be live and running at all times. Advanced customisations however can be hard to achieve without touching Shopify’s coding.
Although WooCommerce and Shopify are excellent choices for those wishing to start out with e-commerce software, Magento has endless possibilities for customisation. This does require coding, making the software suitable for more advanced users.
Magento is useful for unusual or extensive amounts of products but the user definitely has to be willing to learn the ins and outs of the software in order to reap the full benefits. Unlike both WooCommerce and Shopify you need some coding knowledge just to get started and set up your site. A number of unique features are offered such as guest checkouts and a ‘bill me later’ program to help customers finance their purchases.
If you are looking for free software, Magento offers a free version which is still highly customisable despite having less features. If you are a small business owner looking for a fully customisable e-commerce site then Magento is definitely the software for you if you have prior coding knowledge.
4) Presta Shop
Similarly to Magento, Presta Shop has plenty of features, with a free basic package but you do have to purchase templates and themes to make the most out of the software. Training materials are provided for all levels of user however they don’t offer an official support team. This software also offers analytics and an extensive range of tools for growing your online store such as product listing management and payment methods. Presta Shop is user friendly and perfect for small businesses, especially if it’s your first time setting up an e-commerce site. However, like WooCommerce, if you have plans for rapid growth this software isn’t your best option.
5) Open Cart
Open Cart is highly recommended for small business owners just starting out. This software is useful especially if you want to get your shop up and running as soon as possible as it just takes a few clicks to install. Although this software is free, it still includes many features which are included in paid software and even includes tools that will support different languages and calculate taxes for different currencies. This simple software is time saving and free making it perfect for small business owners, however you aren’t going to get the customisability you get with a software such as Magento.
Your choice of e-commerce software is dependent on your skill set and business goals. If you just want to sell a few products and have vert little coding knowledge then WooCommerce is or Open Cart are your best options depending on wether or not you already have a Word Press site. If you have coding knowledge and want a seamless, sleek website that is completely customisable Magento is perfect to fit your needs, however as a small business owner you may not have the time to maintain this yourself. Shopify offers the best all-round package, with plenty of guidance available on how to use it even if it is your first time setting up a website. It is customisable and offers analytics and SEO tools.