Our Top 3 E-commerce Development Solutions

Published August 11, 2017 by Bryan Miller

There are many e-commerce solutions to choose from, depending on your project scope, website management needs, technical proficiency, and SEO & performance goals. Once you’ve identified these factors, you can start searching for the right e-commerce solution for you and your business.

Below is a list of our top 3 picks for e-commerce development solutions that we hope you will find useful when beginning your next e-commerce web project.

Shopify Ecommerce Software

The first e-commerce development solution on our list is Shopify, which offers a compelling feature-set and is used by many business owners, from sole proprietorship to large scale Fortune 500 companies.

Since Shopify has been designed from the ground up to be used specifically by business owners who would like to have an online storefront, every feature and service provided through Shopify will facilitate the development process and aid greatly in helping you bolster your online business and create a storefront that will bring in new customers and satisfy an existing customer base with an ehanced user experience.

One of the aspects of Shopify that sets it apart from other e-commerce solutions is that it has an easy to use backend management dashboard that makes it much easier for non-technical users to manage their products, inventory levels, SEO meta information, and various site features, which can make management of your website less frustrating and ultimately less time-consuming.

Shopify Dashboard

Image credit: https://www.shopify.com/

The Shopify platform is also extendible through many plugins, allowing you to customize your website as you see fit. Something to keep in mind: while shopify does offer free plugins, many plugins will require a monthly fee. Although these plugins often do cost money, they also often come with excellent support from the plugin developers themselves!

With the lightning fast servers hosted by Shopify and the included CDN (Content Delivery Network) in every package, you can be confident that your website will run smoothly and efficiently at all times, keeping user frustration at a minimum. Whenever you wish to make more in-depth changes to the e-commerce website you build at Shopify, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s own unique programming language “liquid” utilizes an MVC framework that’s very similar to modern Ruby on Rails applications, which ensures you’ll be utilizing the latest in web technologies.

Shopify is a newer platform, which can be beneficial for your business due to the fact that you’ll have more contemporary themes to choose from, which are designed from world-renowned and reputable designers such as Pixel Union and Happy Cog.

If you’ve ever managed an e-commerce website, you’ll likely know how important it is to keep your design and features modern, which is why the themes at Shopify can be highly beneficial towards increasing traffic to your online storefront. If you want to customize your website beyond the initial design of your chosen theme, Shopify comes equipped with a wide range of customizable features, such as the ability to edit CSS and HTML directly from the user dashboard as well as easy-to-use settings for almost every template that allows for quick customization.

The key to managing a successful online storefront is being able to analyze customer behavior, which products your target audience are most interested in, and how successful your marketing campaigns are. In that regard, Shopify offers a large number of very useful analytic tools, including an actionable dashboard that highlights your orders, sales, and traffic, built-in Google Analytics, detailed product reports that show which products sell and which don’t, and in-depth reports on site traffic and referrals, all of which should assist you in growing your business and increasing conversions.

Shopify e-commerce Pros:

  • Included no-fuss hosting solution
  • Lightning fast CDN hosting solution
  • User-friendly back-end management dashboard
  • Robust product management platform with product meta information (variants, multiple SKUs, categories, etc.)
  • Built-in customer insight and traffic analytics
  • Limited theme customization features
  • Seamless integration with many popular platforms & APIs (MailChimp, Social Media, etc.)

Shopify e-commerce Cons:

  • You have no control over your hosting solution
  • Most useful apps are monthly paid subscription services
  • Limited theme customization features & manipulation

WordPress (With e-commerce Plugins)

WordPress is one of the most popular e-commerce development solutions in the world, and is used for everything from personal websites to some of the highest traffic websites on the web, including such popular sites as TIME Magazine, New Yorker, BBC, Sony Music, and Variety. Given the widespread popularity of WordPress, you can be confident that the tools have matured and that a massive community of website developers are often on hand to solve any issues that arise during the development of your website.

While WordPress is a content management system that’s used in the creation of all types of websites, including personal blogs to high traffic media sites, there are a whole host of fantastic plugins available to the platform that allow for the facilitated creation of an e-commerce website.

One of the most popular e-commerce plugins on the WordPress market is WooCommerce, due primarily to the fact that it’s one of the most robust and customizable e-commerce plugins available. Not only is WooCommerce built to integrate effortlessly into WordPress, it also offers such features as responsive functionality for a mobile-friendly design, scalability, highly secure code, very comprehensive documentation that covers everything you need to know about using the plugin, and access to a sizable marketplace with more than 300 extensions to choose from.

Google Shopping via WooCommerce and WordPress

Image credit: https://www.wpmayor.com/google-shopping-api/

The open source nature of this platform means that you have full control over your development environment, allowing you to craft a website that entirely meets your web vision. The WordPress community is supported by thousands of developers around the world, providing you with access to developers who can provide assistance in the event of a site issue, ideas on how to better your e-commerce storefront, and full access to the custom code repositories used by these developers.

Most of the core e-commerce functionality can be integrated through the use of plugins, the majority of which are free. In the event that you would like to bolster some of the features on your website and add more in-depth functionality, there are numerous paid plugins as well that are affordable. While paid plugins are available, it’s possible to craft a fully-functional e-commerce website just by utilizing the plethora of free plugins.

Another distinct benefit of using WordPress as your content management system of choice is that its architecture is very SEO friendly, allowing you to squeeze maximum SEO potential out of your content. With proper search engine optimization, your e-commerce website will be have the potential to rank towards the top of search results on such search engines as Google and Bing. With the use of free SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, you can add meta tag titles, keywords, and tags to any image or page on your website, providing you with the means of growing your customer base and expanding your business audience online.

WordPress e-commerce Pros:

  • Open-source development platform
  • Massive following of developers means a plethora of available (free) plugins & support
  • Customization features beyond the core competency of the platform
  • User-friendly back-end management dashboard
  • Robust product management platform with product meta information (variants, multiple SKUs, categories, etc.)
  • Customer insight and traffic analytics through the use of Google Analytics & plugins
  • Seamless integration with many popular platforms & APIs (MailChimp, Social Media, etc.)

WordPress e-commerce Cons:

  • The quality of available plugins vary
  • Support is crowd-sourced by a community of developers, you’re not guaranteed a fix without doing your own research first
  • Often requires the support of an experienced developer for implementation of new features/customizations
  • Self-hosted platform means you have to shop around for your own hosting solution
  • CDN is not provided

Magento Community & Commerce edition

The third of the e-commerce development solutions on this list is Magento, an open source e-commerce platform (community edition) that also offers a more robust version known as the enterprise edition, now called Magento Commerce. Magento is an extremely robust and versatile e-commerce platform, providing website developers with the ability to add almost an unlimited number of products while still maintaining quick and easy inventory management, high quality cloud hosting that will keep your website running at peak performance at practically all times, and effortless integration with third-party eCommerce solutions, such as Google Shopping, eBay, and PayPal.

Magento 2 via Magetraining.com

Image credit: http://www.magetraining.com/blog/magento-2-modules-for-your-magento-store-part-2/

Before you select Magento for your e-commerce development needs, you should know that this platform may not be as user-friendly to non-technical users as the other solutions on this list but is extremely flexible for developers, allowing for extensive customization with practically every feature on your website. Although Magento is used by over 240,000 businesses for their e-commerce needs, the customization tools available through this platform give you the ability to customize your website functionality and design to perfection.

With a base installation of the Magento platform, you’ll receive greater website performance insight that will provide you with the information necessary to continue growing your website and determine which tools you should use to increase customer conversion rates, draw in new leads, and make your e-commerce storefront more efficient from a user perspective. The goal with any e-commerce website is for the customer to be able to effectively navigate the storefront and find the product they’re searching for as quickly as possible, which is practically assured with Magento, with its efficient system architecture and scalable code base.

The expansive system architecture of Magento is built to scale, so your website can grow with your business. For instance, with this powerful cloud hosting solution, your storefront will be able to handle thousands of orders without any slowdown or navigation problems. No matter how many extensions or plugins you wish to add to your e-commerce site, you’ll be able to do so without compromising the performance of your website.

You should also be aware of the fact that Magento shopping carts are built with automatic responsive functionality, which means that smartphone and tablet users will be able to browse and purchase from your store as effortlessly as desktop users.

Magento e-commerce Pros:

  • Open source platform
  • Lightning fast CDN hosting solution (Commerce edition)
  • User-friendly back-end management dashboard
  • Robust product management platform with product meta information (variants, multiple SKUs, categories, etc.)
  • Scalable system architecture allowing for thousands of products without sacrificing performance
  • Built-in customer insight and traffic analytics
  • Added professional service offerings extending the capabilities of your e-commerce website
  • Ability to completely customize and manipulate design & feature set of platform

Magento e-commerce Cons:

  • Plugins providing added functionality can be costly
  • Self-hosted platform means you have to shop around for your own hosting solution
  • CDN is not provided for the community edition
  • Less user-friendly for the non-developer

The Bottom Line

Each of these are fantastic CMS e-commerce platforms that have their own benefits and drawbacks for you to consider when making your choice on which platform to utilize for your business. All three platforms can be high performing and highly customized solutions if you have the right development team. At the end of the day, the CMS platform you select all depends on your budget, needs of your business, and estimated future growth of the e-commerce site.

What is your favorite e-commerce web development solution? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

Bryt Designs

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.

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