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Everything You Need to Know About eCommerce Platforms

POSTED ON November 21, 2014 / IN Internet, Technology

The current economic scenario shows a boom in the eCommerce sector especially for Russia, India and other developing countries. With more people opting to purchase off the internet, the e-shopping site seems to be catching on here.

The internet is already flooded with a multitude of eCommerce websites, so how can you do better than them?If you are planning on setting up a shopping site, you need to find a platform, choose your host and a template or customize it to develop a website to suit your requirements.

There are plenty of eCommerce platforms on the net and it could be quite confusing to zero in on one. This article is an attempt at making it easier for you to choose one.

We can broadly classify eCommerce platforms into three, namely Hosted,Open Source and Hosted Shopping Cart.

Hosted platforms:

They require a monthly or yearly fee for their services and it generally includes web hosting along with an e-commerce system and support. In this case you cant choose a different host but, you don’t have to worry over security or support issues as the platform would solve all these issues efficiently since, its their system and they know how to run it!

Open source:

these platforms enable you to download and host your website from anywhere. This gives designers and developers the freedom to design and develop.

Hosted shopping cart:

Gives you the freedom to choose the CMS and host of your choice, they provide only the shopping cart and handle the checkout process.

Today we will check out the best choices for Hosted Platforms and in the next two articles I will be following up on open source and hosted shopping cart platforms. These are just a few of the popular ones, do feel free to give your comments and ideas.

Hosted Platforms: Looking at the prominent features.

High wire

An easy to integrate and implement hosted platform, Highwire offers a large number of templates to choose from, they also have premium templates at a price of $50. This platform gives designers or developers complete freedom to implement creative ideas. Being a complete hosting platform it takes care of security and integrating payment gateways . A powerful and well designed interface makes Highwire easy to use. It also maintains order and customer data as well as gives store-owners the control to manage product, categories and inventory.

All of these features are also made mobile ready on Highwire, making your site accessible to smart phone users as well.

What makes High wire different from other platforms is its Multiple channel approach, besides selling on your own site you can also sell on Face book,Bonanza and ebay. It gives you an integrated inventory so that a purchase made anywhere is reflected throughout the system.

Besides these goodies High wire is stuffed with plenty of useful marketing features like discount codes, offer certificates, allows customers to post reviews and integrate with mailing lists.

Highwire has a set of packages to choose from.

  • A free plan that allows you to sell on Face book, Bonanza and ebay but not on your own site
  • Paid plans depend on sale volumes and not on number of products.
  • Begins with a plan Of $19 giving you a sales volume up to $1500.
  • An unlimited sales volume plan comes at a price of $99.
  • Several other plans with a price that comes between $19 and $99.

To sum up Highwire offers the following:

  • Hosting services, security and support
  • Plenty of free templates
  • Premium templates at $50
  • Multiple channels – Face book, ebay & Bonanza
  • Marketing features included
  • Admin Dashboard to manage customer data and orders
  • Mobile compatible
  • Pricing band of $19 to $99

Shopify

One of the most popular eCommerce platforms, shopify has several features that keep designers, developers and end users happy. Its easy to integrate templates, intuitive user interface and tons of features make it a good choice for a hosted platform. Shopify hosts websites on its own servers so there would be no security issues, besides it also has no bandwidth limits and has a Content Delivery network to ensure a speedy load. Like highwire, this platform also offers a ton of free templates to choose from. They also have a theme shop for premium templates at around $100 -$200 dollars. Another feature that they offer is custom designing, you can custom design templates for your site and Shopify would even recommend designers for you.

This platform too is mobile ready and provides responsive templates and shopping cart features as well. The back end setup enables you to store order & customer data and even create customer groups. The CMS enables easy updates and powers a blogging engine too. The shopping cart integrates with over 70 payment gateways so its a good option if you want to switch your current platform.

You can also integrate with search engines as you allowed to control Page titles, URL, alt tags and much more.

Shopify offers a flexible payment plan:

  • a 14 day trial pack on all of its plans.
  • Pricing is on a monthly basis $29 for 100 products
  • $59 for 2,500 products .

Summarizing Shopify offers:

  • Hosting services, security and support
  • Plenty of free templates
  • Premium templates at $100 – $200
  • Marketing features like discount coupons and many more
  • Mobile compatible
  • CMS with a Blogging engine.
  • Pricing ranges $29 -$179 per month

Big Commerce

Again a feature rich Hosting service, provides security as well as allows you to buy your own SSL certificate or use a shared one. This platform also has a CDN to ensure a quick loading of pages which would add to the user experience on your website.

Once you’ve signed in with BigCommerce you can also avail their assistance to set up your site. With over a 100 templates to choose from, setting up a website can be easily done. Should you need a custom design BigCommerce would also recommend designers for you.

This platform also enables you to manage your inventory,product options, tax and shipping calculations in an easy and simple manner. With Bigcommerce you would be able to successfully sell anything including physical goods, virtual goods, downloads, events and services. You also have around 60 payment gateways to choose from.

A flexible admin area lets you manage reporting and analysis easily and the platform gives you plenty of marketing features like discount coupons, gift certificates, email integration,social media integration, RSS feeds, Facebook& ebay integration, Google shopping and several other features. Being SEO friendly you can easily handle URLs, meta data, alt tags etc. BigCommerce also works well on Mobiles. However what makes BigCommerce different is that it has the abandoned cart saver, wherein you can email customers who don’t complete the checkout process.

Their payment plans are as follows:

  • A 15 – day free trial available for all plans.
  • begins at $24.95 per month for 100 products
  • Gold plan at $79.95 per month for 1000 products
  • Platinum plan at $149.95 per month

In short BigCommerce offers the following:

  • Hosting services, security and support
  • Plenty of free templates
  • Recommends designers for custom templates
  • Marketing features like discount coupons and many more
  • Mobile compatible
  • Integrates with Facebook, eBay, Google shopping
  • Dashboard to handle order and customer details.
  • Pricing ranges from $24.95 to $299.95 per month.

These are just 3 of the most popular eCommerce platforms, besides these you can also try out Izzonet and Volusion. These two are also equally efficient and offer almost similar features. So, this was a short discussion on hosted Ecommerce platforms. In my next write up, I’ll be dealing with Open Source platforms.

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By Chintan Gor

Chintan Gor having his top-shelf technical skills in the areas of SDLC, Project execution, programing, employee training, leadership, learning talent, performance and employee engagement.
He has delivered Web applications in large corporate environments including mining industries and organizational design contracting.

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