Which E-Commerce Platform Is Right for Your Business?

Which E-Commerce Platform Is Right for Your Business?

So you are ready to sell your products online. You understand about managing e-commerce business in general and comes the big question: which platform should you choose?

If you browse through the web, you can easily find dozens of solid e-commerce/shopping cart platforms to choose. If you look to the forums for a suggestion, you will literally get thousands of different opinions. The same case if you go to your digital agency or developer, usually each of them already set their own preferred platform. Nothing to be blamed here though, you practically need years to be able to fully understand the structure and functions of one of the platforms to be able to fully customize the templates.

My suggestion is this: before you go asking an expert’s or other people’s opinions to help in your decision, it is much better for you to define the requirements of your online business. Below are some guidelines to get this:

Business scale in short and long terms

This is something that would be easily passed through the considerations as you are in a rush to start selling. While switching platforms is a common phase as your business grows, it does require a lot of time and energy to set up a new one and migrate your existing data and assets. By anticipating the requirements beyond the present, it will help you to save time and money. Try to answer these questions, each with the a year, 3 years, and 5 years time scope:

  1. How many products/SKUs do you sell?
  2. What is your market segment?
  3. Are you selling Internationally?
  4. How do you work out your orders fulfillment

Essential features

These are always the toughest ones to compare and anyone can easily write down a separate post about this so I will try to explain it as brief as possible. If possible do not start looking or take any advise before you create your own list of features and functions that you will need. Each platform will brag about the advantages of using it and they will only confuse you more. Keep your focus by having a shortlist of must-have features, that way you can cross off ones that do not qualify without needing to look back later. While doing this, always keep in mind about scalability point above.

Here are few vital points that I always write down before I look on the options:

  1. Payment gateways, make sure it supports the type of payments that you plan to accept
  2. Shipping methods and carriers
  3. Marketing/sales tools integration, if you have any

Note that in some cases you will not be able to find a platform has all the dream features you want. There are 3 options for situations like this:

  1. Develop custom modules/functions on top of the platform that has most features you need. Most modern platforms allow you to create plugins and extensions. If you are lucky, you may find modules built by third parties that fit your needs.
  2. Think of an alternate process to apply the feature in different form that works with the platform.
  3. This is always the last option, but if your business process is very unique then you may need to create a custom platform for the entire store.

Resources and skills

How do you plan to develop and maintain the site, do you have an internal or external team? What is their level of expertise and experience in the platform that you prefer? If they are not specialists, then give them a chance to take a look and time to learn if needed.

In the chance you already have a good web server with good team handling it, then installing an open source platform on top of your server can be a good option to minimize costs.

Tip: if you do not have reliable resources to manage your server, then using SaaS can be a very good idea. If you are serious about your e-commerce business, then throw away the idea of using a shared hosting for your store. I would suggest of at least using a VPS (Virtual Private Server).

Design customization

Every e-commerce platform gives a different level of flexibility in terms of customization, although the good ones should allow you to customize the template design to any form you desire. Do your research thoroughly on this. The easiest way is to find examples of other sites that are built on that platform, if you find many that have similar looks to your ideal layout than it is a big plus.


Keep in mind that you and your team will be interfacing with the dashboard/admin panel for almost everyday. Imagine that you find the CMS interface is frustrating but you are forced to deal with it all the time, easily said you may not want to explore it too often and lose the interest to work on it after a while.
This is a very subjective matter though, some people may not really care much about this.

Popular recommendations compared

These are not direct suggestions. As explained on this post, you need to pick the one that fits your business best. But there are 3 big players on the market right now and I want to use them to make comparisons based on the points listed above. Because of the popularity, you would be able to find human resources that are highly familiar with either one so I will only compare the ‘resources’ related with the server.

Magento Community Edition
Magento Commerce

Magento is most ideal when you are planning to sell hundreds to thousands of products as its framework was designed based on enterprise level of e-commerce platform.
Business scale: medium to very large
Features: extensive
Resources: requires optimized VPS or dedicated server
Customization: very flexible, but more complex
Interface: good, but requires time to understand the steps to complete each process
Price: free


Another good option for open-source shopping cart. The strongest value with OpenCart is that it is built on MVC architecture and makes it easy to learn without worrying to break the core functions.
Business scale: small to large
Features: basic out-of the box, but highly extensible
Resources: can run on most hosting servers
Customization: easy and flexible
Interface: good
Price: free


Shopify is the pioneer when it comes to e-commerce in SaaS. It is not the first for sure, but the first one to gain the level of popularity with very high customer satisfaction rate.
Business scale: small to large
Features: basic out-of the box, but highly extensible
Resources: stress-free maintenance as it is a SaaS
Customization: one of the easiest to create custom templates
Interface: great
Price: from $14/month

I hope after reading this, you find it a little bit easier to make your decision. If you have any opinion or question, please share it here.

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