The popularity of online shops, especially during the WHO’s announcement of the coronavirus pandemic, is continuously increasing. More and more entrepreneurs see opportunities to find a new online sales channel due to the decline in the profitability of stationary shops, while others, in the face of growing competition, are looking for solutions that will improve the operation of existing e-shops. In each of these cases, the engine on which a given e-shop is created plays a significant role. Which one of the available on the market e-commerce engines is worth choosing?
How to prepare for choosing an online shop engine?
1. Gather the requirements
Firstly, when choosing the engine for our online shop, we need to think carefully about what we expect from the new platform and what benefits its functionality can bring to our e-commerce. All the conclusions are worth writing down. Then we will not forget about anything.
2. Examine the competition
It is also worth looking at the solutions applied by competitors – not only in the local market but also abroad. This will give us a fresh idea of what solutions work in a particular industry and what improvements we can make to our online shop to be one step ahead of the competition.
3. Choose your platform
The next step is to choose a new CMS. We can use platforms such as:
- open source,
- with the subscription fee (SaaS),
- a dedicated CMS.
Each of these solutions has its advantages and disadvantages, but also differ in price. Our task is to choose the optimal one, based on the previously collected requirements.
Which e-commerce engines are worthy of attention?
Getting to know and verifying all platforms existing on the market would be a time-consuming and challenging task. That is why it is worth taking advantage of proven solutions that have lived on the market for several years and are continually being developed. Before we make a final decision, let us thoroughly verify the capabilities of each e-commerce engine. Demo versions can be helpful in this, thanks to which you can get to know the shop administration panel and its basic functions.
Open-source e-commerce platforms are software whose source code is shared, used and modified by the development community. Magento, PrestaShop and WooCommerce are among the most popular open-source engine solutions for online shops. They are available in the form of ready-to-use software, which can be used immediately after downloading and installing on the server. Although we often hear that they are free of charge, usually buying a skin or individual modules is associated with certain costs.
Open-source e-commerce engines are an ideal option for those who don’t like limitations and want to have much more flexibility in adjusting the online shop to their preferences – both in terms of functionality and appearance. A broad group of specialists associated around such platforms makes the development of an e-shop built on Magento, WooCommerce or PrestaShop relatively easy. However, it should be remembered that any interference in the source code may become problematic when updating the system. Open-source engines, therefore, require programming resources and, over time, the ability to manage relations between software suppliers, implementation company, plug-in developers and the hosting company.
SaaS is a licensing and delivery model for the subscription system. People who decide to build a shop in this model do not have to buy or install the e-commerce engine locally. They use the software made available by the provider in the cloud. It is enough to set up a user account, choose a subscription package and start your adventure with e-commerce.
The most popular SaaS platforms include:
The advantage of these types of e-commerce engines is the ease of use and a large selection of professional motifs. Many functionalities work on the “drag and drop” rule which makes it possible for even people without much technical knowledge to create a successful e-shop. Usually, the engines operating as SaaS also offer their customers’ programming support and many possibilities of automation or integration with popular payment services. However, one should pay attention to the sales commissions charged.
Engines based on a dedicated solution
It is also possible to build a shop on software dedicated to our company. This solution certainly has the greatest possibilities when it comes to implementing particular functions or personalising the appearance of the e-shop, but it is quite expensive. Each line of the code must be written from scratch, and if the system needs to be extended, the help of the company that provided us with the CMS is necessary.
Which e-commerce engine to choose?
The decision which engine to choose for an e-commerce shop is always difficult. First of all, you need to think through your sales strategy and the amount of assortment, estimate your budget and determine the time after which you want to see your first orders in the system. SaaS platforms allow to significantly shorten the process of setting up a fully functional online shop, which, especially in the current market situation, might be crucial when making decisions. However, open-source engines require a little more work and time, although, with the availability of specialised agencies, this is not a problem either. On the other hand, dedicated engines are indeed the solution which strategically requires the greatest commitment – financial and time. Therefore, before making a final decision, it is worthwhile to examine the market well and clearly define all the pros and cons.