So, you’re yet to decide which platform to use for your online store? You’ve read blogs, watched videos, perhaps even done a webinar as well. Confused, yet?
We’re here to put a stop to the overwhelm. Let’s help you pick your way through three of the very best choices when it comes to eCommerce for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Those three being: Shopify, Wix and WordPress.
WordPress overview: WordPress is hand’s down the world’s most popular platform. Today it powers 45.4% of the internet.
The versatility of WordPress lies in its ‘plugins’, which are available in both free and paid form. These plugins add functionality to a website – such as the ability to accept payment, add social feeds and more (much more).
While WordPress began as a blogging platform, over the years it has expanded to be a globally respected website and eCommerce platform.
- WordPress is free
- It’s easy to use
- WordPress themes have built-in blogs, and blogs are pretty much essential if you’re hoping for a good search engine position
- WordPress websites are mobile-ready
- The WordPress community is filled with people who are ready to help should you encounter a problem
- WordPress is well-known for playing nice with Google/SEO and there are many plug-ins that can help you improve your ranking month on month
- WordPress has the largest number of themes of any platform (but you should read our special note below)…
THIS is why you should seriously consider a customized theme…
Like all eCommerce platforms, the most powerful of websites is a custom one, not one that has an off-the-peg theme. After all, who knows how many other eCommerce stores might have chosen the same theme as you? And why would you want a theme that doesn’t communicate your brand identity, values and USP?
On which note, web design companies (such as our good selves) can create the incredible from WordPress, turning a simple blog into big business that perfectly reflects your brand and sells your products.
- The slicker of shopping themes come at a price (that said, they are very affordable, ranging from around $30 upwards.
- Not all plugins are free
- It doesn’t include free hosting
Shopify overview: Shopify hands you plenty of tools to help you get set up and running, these tools include themes, apps and a built-in, ready to go payment provider.
Shopify provides different tiered packages to choose from which are charged monthly.
Unlike WordPress, if you choose this platform it HAS to be hosted by Shopify (more on hosting in a little while).
- Shopify offers a 14-day free trial
- There’s a very large choice of storefront themes
- Shopify is perhaps THE friendliest of all platforms for novice users, with a great support team who are on hand to help 24/7
- Free and paid apps can add to the functionality of your website in minutes (take a trip to the Shopify App Store to take a look around)
- Some apps require payment
- There are only ten free templates, the rest require a one-time fee
- There is an ongoing charge, although this does include hosting
- While excellent for the tech un-savvy, Shopify is often considered restrictive by the more technology-able
Wix overview: Wix is the new kid on the block when it comes to eCommerce. Launched in 2006, Wix completely revolutionized how businesses could set up and manage their websites.
Providing an intuitive drag and drop interface, it’s no overstatement to say that Wix makes everyone a web designer.
- Wix is no longer Flash based, which makes your Wix eCommerce store suitable for all devices – desktop, tablet and mobile
- Wix offers a free plan if you don’t mind having a domain such as http://yourwebsite.wix.com/yourwebsite (however this isn’t great for branding and professional reasons); still, at least the free plan allows you to take Wix for a spin
- Wix provides short term pricing with no yearly tie-in
- Wix is ludicrously easy to use
- This platform provides a solid range of designs and themes that look good right out of the box
- To receive the lowest monthly price you’ll need to commit to long duration of up to three years
- The Wix app marketplace is relatively limited
Before you go, we need to talk hosting
That’s it then. You know the pros and cons of each of the three leading eCommerce platforms. With your mind made up, now you just need to choose a host.
A host is a company that physically stores your website files on their servers. Choosing the right host is EVERY bit as important as picking the right eCommerce platform. Here’s what could happen if you don’t choose well…
- Your website might load super slowly (with many of your would-be customers leaving your website without even landing on a single page)
- Your eCommerce store could go down without warning
- You might face price hikes each and every year
- You’ll suffer from poor support
- And worst of all – they may have an IP address that is blacklisted by Google, effectively shutting you out of ranking on the search engines altogether (you should always ask for a host’s IP before moving ahead, you can then use the Spam Haus Lookup tool to quickly check its Google standing)
With all of the above in mind, here’s our recommendation – use Siteground. This well-respected host will ensure that your website loads quickly without any lag. Siteground also do daily back-ups and provide secure hosting, so you can sleep peacefully knowing that your files are in good hands.
Now onto cold, hard cash – Siteground packages are incredibly affordable. At the time of writing, this started at £2.95 a month (this is the promotional price, after a year this would rise to a very reasonable £8.95 a month).
And that’s it, with no jargon or confusing tech terms at all, you’re now ready for the world of eCommerce. Good luck with setting up shop, and you know where we are should need us.