Before you start building your first online store, you should find out which engine options best suit your concept of online trade or service delivery.
In order to build a successful online business, you will need a little time to research and search for available options for online trading platforms. It is also required to analyze their functionality, convenience, reliability, performance and prices for use.
At the moment (March 2020), there are more than 1500 engines in the world that can be used in one way or another to organize a sales and payment system. However, only a few of them are worthy of closer scrutiny and choice.
There are several main types of e-commerce solutions. Some focus on selling digital products, some are great for dropshipping companies (Oberlo), and others are ideal for subscription models (Wix Membership).
For example, STRATO Webshop (ePages) and Shopify are the best solutions for building large online stores effortlessly. WooCommerce is well suited for unique and specialized projects, but can require significant technical expertise. With this system, you get more flexibility and the ability to create multilingual stores.
Jimdo and Wix are suitable solutions if you want to implement small (and simpler) store projects. Jimdo is gaining points in legal security and technical support, and Wix has the edge in advanced features, especially when dealing with digital goods.
Regardless of the sales model, you can always choose one of the following two solutions
Also known as ecommerce kits (like Shopify, Jimdo, or Weebly). These are so-called SaaS (Software as an End-to-End Service) products that are charged monthly or annually. All of these engines are hosted by the provider, so store owners don't have to worry about updates, security issues or hosting services.
Hosted solutions are the fastest and easiest way to create an online store, but you might lose some flexibility. The kits can offer many design options, and some even allow you to adapt the program code, but you will always be limited at certain points (for example, when setting up a server).
Usually these are content management systems (CMS) based on the principle of open source code. When using them, store owners have to find their own hosting, which will host the CMS. As a rule, there is no charge for using the CMS, but the webmaster is responsible for new versions and protection.
Open source boxed platforms for online trading can be either free or paid. Most often they are CMS with built-in payment acceptance systems that are tailored for online sales.
Initially, the developers provide a fairly wide functionality – you can manage the store design, add new plugins, components and themes to it. On the other hand, such solutions are poorly amenable to structural optimization, which will make it difficult to work if you offer a unique project. Plus, open source e-commerce platforms require more development or programming skills.
At the beginning of 2020, there were about 300 box platforms in the world. The rating of online trading engines is constantly changing, but only a few of them deserve attention.
An analysis of Ukrainian online trading platforms conducted in March 2020 shows that the country's entrepreneurs mostly prefer Magento, OpenCart, Bitrix and WooCommerce. Stores on ABO.CMS, AdVantShop.NET, Amiro CMS and ArwShop are much less common.
PHPShop and Simpla stand out. These engines are very popular in Russia and Belarus, but they are not widely used in Ukraine.
Magento powers over a third of existing stores and is best used as a solution on powerful servers. Magento is open source software with a dual license strategy. You can use a commercial or free license: Enterprise Edition and Community Edition.
The CMS is well suited for implementing things like membership plans, recurring payments, and discounts. In terms of design, there are thousands of design options to choose from – both original and independent developers. Magento also allows you to create separate multilingual sites that are loaded based on the user's location.
Compared to other open source platforms, OpenCart is easier to use. This ecommerce platform is free and has a decent community around it that you can turn to if you're having trouble with your store's design.
OpenCart is especially recommended for startups as it only takes a few days to set up a website from scratch. The system is constantly being upgraded and its appearance and UX have improved significantly over the past years and become more user-friendly.
One of the features of the platform is the rapid creation of multiple trading platforms. You can customize products to display in different stores and offer different prices in each case.
Bitrix is considered a system that is costly, difficult to learn and quite heavy. This platform is more suitable for firms and enterprises that have the resources and dedicated staff to make it work.
Although you can only access all of Bitrix's features through the paid version of the Business Plan Edition, the free version isn't all that bad. – it offers about 70% of all functionality.
It is an excellent customer relationship management solution that is also suitable as a collaboration application for employees. You can use it as a cloud service or install the entire system on a local server.
WooCommerce is a store system based on the popular CMS WordPress. This WordPress plugin is free and can be installed very easily through the control panel. There are also a number of paid extensions for WooCommerce that you can use to further improve the functionality of your online store.
WooCommerce has a solid foundation with SEO friendly links and integrated metadata. The platform is suitable for selling both digital and tangible products and offers connectivity to marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay. WooCommerce uses PayPal as its default payment method, but standard Ukrainian payments can also be connected to the platform.
Many online trading platforms today offer a full range of features that can be used to optimize your online store on Google and Yandex. But given that SEO includes many factors - UX, loading speed, meta tags, etc., you should take a closer look at the functionality of the chosen solution.
Here are the top SEO features that any decent online trading platform should include:
separate navigation links;
separate page titles;
separate page URLs;
separate meta descriptions;
separate images ALT tags;
separate H1 headers;
built-in blogging platform;
social media widgets;
generated XML sitemap;
using your own domain name;
setting up a personal IP address;
A review of ratings on various resources shows that Bitrix is in first place in this parameter, followed by Magento and Open-cards. Less popular platforms also have some of these features, but not the full range.
If you offer few products, then it is worth considering the option of a simple online store that can be launched directly from the corresponding services. Here are the best solutions that the marketplace marketplace offers.
Good. Serious provider with full functionality and provided hosting. A store can be set up in one day, including SEO settings and choosing a design model. Recommended for newbies to online trading. A feature is the technical support of algorithms – The Horoshop team itself promotes the platform in search engines, which has a positive effect on the search results.
Prom.ua. The oldest online shopping center with a built-in website builder. After the modernization of 2017-2018, the service has improved the payment system, and now visitors can pay for goods directly through the site. You can choose from dozens of templates and plugins with the ability to add your own. Over the past ten years, it has become very popular - almost any entrepreneur in Ukraine has an account on Prom.ua
ViX. This is one of the most popular construction sets in the world community. The service not only contains ready-made templates for online stores, but also allows you to integrate your own code. It only takes you a few hours to create a simple store initially, but ViX has hundreds of settings that will take a long time to master.
Jimdo. It is also popular in the Ukrainian open spaces, mainly for creating online stores of fashion, style, sports nutrition and sports goods. Has an impressive library of hundreds of SEO optimized templates. When it comes to management, Jimdo is harder to learn than WordPress, but easier than ViX.
Comparison of e-commerce platforms shows that the ideal approach for e-commerce CMS has not yet been developed. Even among established platforms with rich functionality, you will not find a universal solution for all applications.
You should analyze the size of the market, the benefits of your product and its target audience before settling on one of the platforms.
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