Choosing an eCommerce platform for your business isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
Starting with the wrong platform will present a challenging obstacle for your business right out of the gate.
If you’re going to succeed, you must put in the research to find and integrate systems that complement your business.
You don’t necessarily have tons of time for trial and error. The quicker you can land on the optimal platform, the quicker things can really start firing on all cylinders for your eCommerce business.
Online sales saw a boost of nearly 15% last year throughout the world, and projections for the future are similarly fruitful. By doing the right things, such as choosing the most profitable platform, you’ll be able to capitalize on the tremendous growth seen in eCommerce.
So what exactly goes into choosing such a system? What are the parameters and guidelines you should follow?
Ecommerce Platforms Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All
Your choice in an ecommerce platform must come down to the nature of your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of products are you selling?
- How many products are you selling—and in what quantities?How complex are your products?
- Do your products require a lot of customization?
- What integrations does your ecommerce platform need?
- Do you manage inventory through an internal ERP?
- What are your plans to scale your store and audiences?
- How do you plan on handling customer service on your website? Visitors no longer want to have to call to get the answers they need.
- What forms of payment will you accept?
And many more. Building or growing an ecommerce website is not an easy or simple thing.
We work with small-to-mid-sized businesses in Minnesota and the Midwest building custom Marketing and eCommerce websites that integrate with existing systems, in addition to extensive digital marketing and lead generation for the websites we build. The three platforms we’ve found to be most useful are Shopify, Drupal Commerce, and Magento. They each serve different functions to different audiences, and like all toolsets, can be used to deliver what your business requires.
Let’s examine what those platforms entail and why they might be a perfect fit for you.
Magento - The Ecommerce Choice for Mid-Sized to Large Companies
In a nutshell, it’s an ideal eCommerce solution for a mid-sized-to-large company that has thousands of products that need to be customized. Regarding some of our clients with a more extensive operation, Magento has made them extremely happy.
Here are a few of the features we most enjoy about this dynamic eCommerce platform.
Easy Access for Multiple Buyers
Custom developed functionality of Magento allows businesses with multiple buyers to make purchases while using the same account.
Furthermore, the system is versatile when it comes to roles and permissions for buyers. Specifically, it’s possible to differentiate who can purchase, requests for a quote, or update the company account, etc.
The Freedom of Customization
Beyond enabling standard orders, Magento Enterprise gives its users the ability to support price quoting. You benefit from making personalized offers for larger or made-to-order requests.
Magento has digitized the quoting process. Users can negotiate prices with customers, and – once the deal has been made – it’s then possible to convert the quote to an order and check out online.
When it comes to B2B, 80% of buyers are using mobile at work, the whole 80%-plus claim that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase.
Research shows that as far as general consumers go, 79% of smartphone users have made an online purchase with their mobile device in the last 6 months. While, during the 2018 holiday season, nearly 40% of all eCommerce purchases were made on a smartphone.
Magento’s compatibility with mobile commerce is one of its most intriguing attributes. It allows consumers to purchase products no matter where they are.
For B2B businesses, many potential buyers are out in the field, and they’ll appreciate how they can buy from their job sites while on their mobile phones. Your own sales reps will have access to their Magento account when they’re out and about visiting clients.
Plus, even for those who aren’t in the field, having mobile access grants them the opportunity to research products during their commute or their lunch-hour.
At the crux of these mobile capabilities is the need for responsive websites that work across all platforms. Magento ensures its users cover all their bases.
In fact, the platform goes beyond responsiveness with their approach. It’s turned towards Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to improve time effectiveness. Plus, Magento’s PWAs tap into native device capabilities. For instance, it’s possible to scan a bar with a camera. At the same time, there are notifications that remind buyers when it’s time to make more purchases. Note that PWAs are still an in-development feature, and may add significant expenses to a project.
There is no sidestepping mobile integrations with your eCommerce platform. Mobile devices are the most popular way that people now peruse the internet---Magento operates with this experience in mind.
Throughout the Midwest, August Ash was the first web development company to launch a Magento 1.x website and have launched many more since then on both Magento 1 and Magento 2. (Note - Magento 1 is sunsetting very soon, and August Ash recommends all Magneto 1 sites migrate to Magento 2 or a different platform as soon as possible.) For both B2B and B2C companies, we’ve leveraged the tools discussed to create hundreds of successful websites for small-to-mid-sized businesses.
Drupal Commerce - The Ecommerce Solution for Content Rich Websites
For some quick background, Drupal is among the most widely used open-source content management systems on the market both nationally and internationally.
Drupal is discussed in the same breath as WordPress, standing out for its flexibility, customization, and extensibility.
The platform boasts a growing community of 45,000+ developers and strategic modernization initiatives. Many industry experts agree that Drupal is a strong contender as the best option for an open-source CMS and eCommerce platform in today’s market.
Let’s delve deeper into Drupal’s features that we, along with our clients, have grown to appreciate tremendously at August Ash.
Being Open-Source Means 100% Control
We’ve already mentioned that Drupal is open-source software.
But what does that mean, exactly?
Specifically, anyone can use the platform while adapting its code for any purpose imaginable—all without a licensing fee.
Once on the platform there are over 40,000 modules that introduce new features and increase the scope of Drupal’s core functionality.
Having access to such features is of immeasurable benefit to more complex websites. With the tools, they can access and extend the code through internal or external developer resources. This perk enhances your website’s ability to integrate into your other workplace software.
State-of-the-Art Framework and Applications
When it comes to directing development towards strategic initiatives, Drupal’s system is more than up to the challenge.
Through these initiatives, the platform has witnessed impressive modernization that keeps moving steadily with the times.
For instance, the API-First initiative has drastically enhanced Drupal’s capabilities and flexibility. The platform can power innovative applications, whether it’s backend systems written in languages like Python and PHP, or more frontend frameworks, such as React or Vue. In a nutshell, Drupal is fluent and entirely comfortable with the language of HTTP.
Basically, Drupal is a modern web designer and developer's toolkit, and it can do many amazing things you want it to.
Flexible Business Scaling
Drupal works on the philosophy that online businesses necessitate as little human interaction as possible. It sees scalability as getting software to seamlessly communicate with other software to pass information via a series of integrations and automation.
From transactions to accounting, stock levels, fulfillment, and marketing, Drupal’s customer data automation can scale automatically as your customer base grows.
Drupal’s impressive combination of its flexible open-source foundation and API-first initiative makes scalability 2nd nature. And if your business is steadily growing or firmly established, Drupal is an ideal option for developing a more complex eCommerce architecture.
We’re only scratching the surface with what Drupal brings to the table. What we can assure is that when the right kind of company chooses Drupal as their eCommerce platform, we’ve seen firsthand genuinely impressive results.
Shopify - Ecommerce for Small Stores with Small Inventories
Do you run a smaller company that’s aiming to sell a few dozen physical or digital (or both) products?
But what makes Shopify such an excellent fit for these kinds of businesses?
With the RESTful interface, strategically implemented JSON resources, OAuth 2 for authentication, and a Python SDK, Shopify’s API is as straightforward as it gets. Developers will find it as easy to work in as a marketer.
Smaller businesses with less extravagant needs will enjoy the solid codebase layout foundation that can work alongside future integrations.
If one of your customers connects to your stores through their Shopify store, the technology ensures all orders from Shopify are in your store. Also, Shopify offers status updates once items have been shipped from your store.
A Growing Community of Developers
Shopify’s developer community continues to grow and thrive in an environment with buzzing forums, and worldwide meetups. From there, there are also unofficial sub-communities, including eCommTalk, for instance.
Newcomers to the platform soon become experts because it’s such a valuable resource. Throughout Shopify’s ecosystem, there’s a robust range of open-source projects and code samples that help your business get to the next level.
An App-Centric Approach
Shopify should also be commended for its focus on app promotion throughout their app store. Another savvy piece of the puzzle is that these apps are categorized for easy accessibility.
Not only are the websites a breeze when it comes to usability, but users receive app suggestions in their store dashboard and in their email newsletters.
Through this feature, you’ll gain exposure to an audience that’s already interested in what you’re selling.
Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform is a Science
We want you to understand the thought process behind choosing the eCommerce platform for your business.
We want our clients to have an eCommerce platform that interweaves seamlessly with their day-to-day. Meaning, no clunky beginning stages where you have no idea how to use the tools, and no infuriating glitches and malfunctions that leave you frustrated.
Our promise is to provide you with an eCommerce infrastructure that doesn’t only account for the here and no. For your business to thrive – and not just survive – we want you frequently thinking about the future. So, when we point you to the direction of your ideal eCommerce platform, we aren’t deciding on something that’ll only work for today.
Instead, we’re pondering about what’s going to see your business successfully into the next decade and beyond.