My first Outbrain blog post, this is exciting!
I’m located in our Israel office and part of the Amplify team that helps you get readers and viewers to your great content. I’m responsible for all our marketing technologies and reporting, so I’m often giving my friends advice on ways to make their small businesses or startups more efficient through technology. My colleague, Will Fleiss, finally convinced me to share some of this knowledge with you. I hope you find it helpful!
Many of our customers drive visitors to their blog posts from our network of premium publishers that view more pages with a lower bounce rate than both their search and social referrals, but since they don’t have an online monetary conversion, it’s difficult for them to quantify the value of this traffic. If you’re thinking about adding commerce to your content, it’s definitely worth checking out e-commerce platforms that can make this pretty easy, and help you receive a return-on-investment from your content marketing efforts.
An e-commerce platform is essentially an application that allows you to build an online store. Much as WordPress is to blogs, an e-commerce application is to selling products. The store comes complete with search capabilities, simple navigation, user accounts for return customers, a shopping cart, and the ability to order and ship.
5 E-Commerce Platform Comparisons
An e-commerce platform can be the backbone of your online presence, so choosing the right one should not be taken lightly. In my experience here are some of the best e-commerce platforms available:
Magento seems to be a favorite choice of small businesses and those in the marketing world, and for good reason. Magento is a flexible ecommerce platform that provides businesses with thousands of extensions, personalized options, and the ability to grow without restriction. Magento also has many customizable features, is user-friendly (making it great for those who are just starting out), and allows businesses to add features as business needs change.
Another great thing about Magento is that it’s owned by eBay, which gives businesses the opportunity to sell there, too. Additionally, Magento is the fastest growing e-commerce platform out there, and is used by some big name companies, like The North Face and Nike.
Barely trailing Magento in terms of popularity and overall efficiency is Shopify. According to Shopify’s website, their e-commerce platform is used by more than 100,000 store owners, and it makes sense as to why – Shopify is one of the most user-friendly e-commerce platforms out there. Plus, in addition to being easy to navigate, Shopify has some great display options, performs quickly, and makes it easy for businesses to manage their own inventory.
Another reason that people love Shopify is the great technical/customer support that Shopify provides in case you do run into a problem or have a question.
OsCommerce has been in business for 14 years, and has emerged as one of the top e-commerce platforms out there. OsCommerce features more than 7,000 different free add-ons for businesses, and has 12,800 registered sites. In addition to its large number of websites, the past 14 years have also given OsCommerce the opportunity to build up a large community – more than 270,000 members – meaning that a small business or startup has a lot of resources when it comes to asking questions and getting answers.
Another huge plus of OsCommerce is that it’s free to download, has free templates available, and is open source. A downside, though, is that it can be a little bit more complicated to understand than the two top e-commerce platforms mentioned above, meaning that setting it all up may require the help of a website developer or website designer.
One of the things that I love most about Bigcommerce is the beautiful selling sites that the e-commerce platform creates. By visiting their website, a potential Bigcommerce user can view dozens of different websites, ranging from featured websites, to websites for health products, electronics, jewelry, sports, and more. In addition to the beauty of it all – these pages really do appease the eyes – Bigcommerce is highly customizable, is extremely user friendly, doesn’t have any start-up or cancellation fees, and offers great customer support and plenty of tutorials. Plus, the bronze plan is reasonably priced, at $24.95 per month.
The downsides to Bigcommerce is based mainly on the fact that some of the coolest features – like the Abandoned Cart Saver – is only available to those businesses that are willing to upgrade their plans. While plans start at $24.95/month, they go up to a whopping $299.95/month.
Woocommerce ranks in at number five in the list of best e-commerce platforms, but a fifth place spot shouldn’t discourage you from highly considering it for your business (some people consider it the best e-commerce platform out there).
For those that are familiar with WordPress, one of the most user-friendly and popular applications for website building, you’ll love Woocommerce. Woocommerce is a WordPress-based e-commerce platform, and as such, you know that it’s got to be really easy to use and understand.
In addition to user-friendliness, Woocommerce is great because it provides a highly professional look right from the get-go. It’s also really simple and really fast, making it a great option for those people who want to tie commerce to their already-existing blog, or sell a small number of products. And, one of the other best parts about Woocommerce? It’s completely free.
Which is the best ecommerce platform?
With five great options for e-commerce platforms listed above, knowing which one is the best for your business’s needs might feel a little overwhelming. When thinking about an e-commerce platform, though, you should keep in mind that there really is no “best” platform; rather, there’s only what’s best for your business.
Here are some of the questions I’m asking for our business when making this e-commerce platform comparison:
1. Which platform best meets our budgetary needs;
2. Which platform best provides our business with the ability to grow and expand?
3. How many products are we hoping to sell?
4. What are the storage levels and bandwidth of each platform?
5. How flexible and user-friendly are they?
6. Which platforms have a large developer and customer-base community?
A lot of different e-commerce platforms will offer free trials for first-time users. Before purchasing an e-commerce platform, explore your options, and consider all the factors mentioned above before rushing into a decision.
I hope you’ve found this helpful! I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments, so don’t hesitate to ask.