E-commerce solutions are a cost-intensive affair that demands a lot of time and effort for requirement integration to become an end-to-end solution for any enterprise. The decision to select the right platform for a specific type of business can be tricky but admittedly a very important decision for any business.
The effort put in researching the right platform could feel overwhelming, given the variables that one needs to consider but it is worth the pain. Choosing the wrong platform can have a more lasting and undesirable impact on the business.
For example, a business might want to offer more product lines than initially planned. But if the solution lack scalability, the company would end up incurring effort and costs switching to another platform.
Best Omnichannel E-commerce Platforms
There are hundreds of solutions present in the market. But in this list, you will find a comparative study of three of the market leaders and some of the best omnichannel e-commerce platforms category based on parameters that businesses often look out for. These platforms are:
The features and characteristics of these platforms vary widely and hence, it is pertinent to keep in mind that each one of these is built keeping a different user segment in mind. And so, we shall be focusing on some of the key ideas that these platforms are built around like features, designs, customer support and pricing.
Shopify is a market leader in the true sense even though, at 20%, it has a market cap slightly lesser than WooCommerce. The commerce platform of Shopify is ideal for high-growth enterprise and high-volume brands.
- Features – When it comes to delivering value, Shopify excels at it. Shopify is a subscription-based service which means there is no hosting or installation involved. For small and medium-sized businesses, it saves them a lot of hassle. It has both product management and order management features along with some basic customer management, which makes it a truly holistic omnichannel solution. Shopify offers hundreds of design themes and also provides custom CSS functionality. It is mobile friendly and has a POS ( point of sale ) system that lets customers pick-up the product from a store. Shopify also provides reporting features for sales and inventory.
- Design – Shopify has really focused on its theme designs. Currently, it offers ten free themes and a wide range of paid themes starting at $160. Shopify themes are modern and interactive. The themes can cater to almost any product category. For businesses that are looking out for an attractive product showcase, Shopify wouldn’t let you down.
- Customer Support – Shopify has a highly responsive 24/7 customer support system. When a user faces any issue, they can reach out to Shopify’s customer support through Live Chat, Email, Phone or their Twitter handle. In addition to these contact means, Shopify offers a detailed knowledge base where users can search for answers to their problems.
- Pricing – Shopify has an array of plans from Basic to Advanced. The basic plan starts $29 per month which is billed yearly. As you ramp up your plan, you get more features like more users who can access the admin panel and lower transaction fees. For the features, designs and the support it provides, Shopify stiff pricing could still be a major decision point for small or medium-sized business.
WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce platform, primarily offered as a WordPress plugin. It offers a custom cart solution in addition to a product’s website content on WordPress. According to BuiltWith reports, WooCommerce is globally the most popular e-commerce solution with a market share of 25% and also one of the top omnichannel e-commerce platforms. Since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, the user can put out the product listings through their current WordPress theme.
- Features – WooCommerce is a standalone service that needs to be installed on a web server. WooCommerce also offers both product and order management features but needs third party plugins for customer management features. It is mobile friendly only up to the extent that the current theme allows but usually it suffices for most small businesses. The bandwidth depends on the host, unlike Shopify where it is unlimited. WooCommerce also offers standard reporting features.
- Designs – As we have already mentioned that WooCommerce is offered as a WordPress plugin, there is no such thing as a store design on it. It has its pros and cons. The good news is that the user can keep using their current theme and put out product listing along with their website content. But if there are specific requirements as to how the products need to be showcased, WooCommerce might fall short on flexibility. Also, in most cases, the product listings are pretty basic and any specific requirement might need manual tweaks via CSS or third party plugins.
- Customer Support – Since WooCommerce is offered as a free open-source plugin, it is difficult to expect a multi-channel customer support system. But doesn’t mean that there is no help out there in case of an issue. Being the most widely used platform does have its benefits. WooCommerce maintains a public knowledge base where users can look for answers themselves. Additionally, according to the WooCommerce support policy on their website, “We only support our Products, sold on WooCommerce.com“. But if the problem persists, users can find a lot of community help.
- Pricing – This is the best part of WooCommerce. It is a free plugin. If the user isn’t afraid of finding a host, tweaking CSS and integrating third-party plugins, the only cost incurred is hosting which would be approximately $100 a year depending on the service provider.
Magento Commerce was historically the most used eCommerce platform for the better part of the decade. It still powers thousands of e-retail websites and business across the world but was overtaken by Shopify and WooCommerce in the last half of the decade. The recently launched cloud-enabled Magento 2 is adjusted more towards the omnichannel platform enterprise end of the market than Magento 1. The underlying architecture is way more scalable than before but the ownership costs have risen with it too.
- Features – Like Shopify, Magento is a subscription-based service. It offers subdomain and hosting features. The users can also hook up their domain with the host. It has bundled the product and order management features and provides extensive reporting on sales with an analytics module. There are 100+ professional themes to choose from and it is also payment gateway enabled.
- Designs – Magento doesn’t provide any designs as such except the core software. The user will have to externally plugin a theme from websites like Magento Connect or ThemeForest.
- Customer Support – Magento’s customer support resembles that of WooCommerce. It doesn’t provide much support for its community edition which is free but for its enterprise edition, Magento offers support via Email and phone.
- Pricing – Like we already mentioned, Magento offers a community edition which is a free service much like WooCommerce. But the enterprise edition of Magento has pretty stiff pricing that starts at $15000 for a year and can go up to $50000 for more advance features. This is one of the primary reasons why Magento’s future is in a haze at the moment even after Adobe’s inquisition.
There are other solutions like BigCommerce and Wix that has smaller share when compared to the platforms mentioned here but they stand their ground.
But at present, Shopify comes out a clear winner based on its offerings and pricing. If a user doesn’t have a website, Shopify should be the place where they set up their shop.