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How to Choose an eCommerce Platform

Today importance and growing popularity of ecommerce are evident. It's not surprising that more businesses move online where they can reach new customers.

Selecting which software platform you'll use for your web store is an important decision. If you are looking for the right solution to sell some products on the Internet, this article is for you.

Choosing the appropriate eCommerce platform is the first step on your way to success. It is essential to select one that will provide you with the features necessary to run a successful online store. So this decision should be made carefully.

Most eCommerce solutions provide the basics to get you started. This includes customizable site templates, an integrated shopping cart, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, inventory management and analytics. To find the best one for your business, you need to look at what is the most important for you. Once you have a list of the features you need, look for a platform that can provide the tools and services to meet your business goals.

Here, we take a look at the best available platforms. I hope this overview will guide you in the right direction.


Magento


Magento serves more than 110,000 merchants worldwide and is the world’s fastest growing eCommerce platform.

There are 12 payment gateways, besides, you can choose from 87 payment extensions. Translated into over 60 languages and supporting multiple currencies, and taxes, Magento allows for full internationalization of your online channel.

You have to pay for the Enterprise Edition, which is full of extremely useful features, but the Community Edition is free to download and use.

Highlighted Features

  • Automatic mobile browser detection

  • Ability to assign designs on category and product level

  • Multiple images with zoom

  • One page checkout

  • Cross-sells, up-sells and related items

  • Flexible coupons

  • Multiple websites and stores control from one Administration Panel

  • Integrated with Google Analytics and Website Optimizer


Magento


Source: Magento.com



PrestaShop


PretsaShop is professional open-source eCommerce software with a lot of features and a good-looking admin interface. It powers over 100 000 active stores worldwide.

PrestaShop is open to a variety of payment methods: 12 embedded payment gateways and 100 modules can be downloaded to extend the list. A single store can be translated into 41 languages, and you can set an unlimited number of translations on your shop. PrestaShop allows you to create an unlimited number of currencies to display on the store and set tax rules and guidelines according to your country.

You can download, install, and use it for free.

Highlighted Features

  • Available quantities displaying

  • Possibilities of product export to eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, and more

  • Different pricing for customer groups

  • Content management system

  • One-page checkout

  • Gift messages and gift wrapping at checkout

  • Integrated with USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post


osCommerce


osCommerce is an online shop solution that offers a wide range of out-of-the-box features. Being one of the oldest eCommerce platforms, it powers 12724 live stores around the world.

There are 9 payment gateways to choose from: 2Checkout.com, Authorize.Net, ChronoPay, iPayment, PayNova, Paypal, PSIGate, SecPay and TrustCommerce. Besides, you can find numerous extensions that will let you integrate payment methods for different countries. osCommerce is completely multilingual with English, German, and Spanish provided by default and has multicurrency support.

The platform is available for free.

Highlighted Features

  • Object oriented backend

  • Support for dynamic images

  • Automated display of specials

  • Temporary shopping cart for guests and permanent shopping cart for customers

  • Fast and friendly quick search and advanced search features

  • Support for static and dynamic banners with full statistics


This platform is feature-rich, but still there are certain disadvantages: the front end of OsCommerce is not developed using CSS; the code base is also overly complex which makes extending more difficult.

Zen Cart


Zen Cart is user-friendly, open source shopping cart software. It can be installed and set-up by anyone with basic web site building and computer skills. It’s also easy to customize and easy to manage. Zen Cart branched from osCommerce, so you can expect very similar features.

The platform has gateways built-in for Authorize.net AIM, PayPal Website Payments Standard (IPN), PayPal Express Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, LinkPoint API, YourPay API, as well as C.O.D. and Check/MoneyOrder. Numerous additional gateways are available in the Free Addons area. It has multiple language and multiple currency support.

This shopping cart software is free of charge.

Highlighted Features

  • Pricing options merchandising

  • Detailed store layout control

  • Possibility to set a store up to be simply a product showcase, without pricing at all

  • Advertising banners

  • Shipping estimator

  • Low stock notifications


VirtueMart


VirtueMart has been designed to work alongside Joomla! But you can extend the functionality of Joomla! and VirtueMart using plugins, components, templates and modules to make them do what you need.

The platform has pre-defined payment gateways like Authorize.net, PayPal, 2Checkout, eWay, Worldpay, PayMate and NoChex. Your shop can be extended with other payment modules using the payment module API. Multiple languages and currencies are supported. You can allow customers to change the currency and buy using an alternative currency.

You can download the software for free.

Highlighted Features

  • Product availability (how fast a customer can expect delivery)

  • Can be used as a shop or just as an online-catalog

  • Multiple prices per product

  • Stock level control for products

  • Quick search for products, categories and manufacturers

  • Flexible shipping carriers and rates configuration


OpenCart


OpenCart is a turn-key ready "out of the box" shopping cart solution. It is designed feature rich, easy to use, and search engine friendly.

There are 22 payment gateways; many more can be found in the extension section. The platform is multi-currency and supports 18 languages and various shipping methods that are included in the default OpenCart download.

The platform is available for free.

Highlighted Features

  • Template system

  • Automatic image resizing

  • Unlimited information pages

  • Multi-store abilities

  • Module system which allows users to easily extend the functionality for their needs

  • Guest checkout

  • Shipping weight calculation


But due to the fact that the platform is not very popular, help is not so freely available.

CubeCart


CubeCart is powerful but simple to use. It integrates well into all kinds of sites and looks professional from the customers’ point of view. Once a store is installed with a few clicks, it is possible to enable all kinds of plugins and modules.

You can choose from 30+ payment gateways. German, English (UK), English (US), Spanish, French & Dutch are among editable languages. There is multiple currency support and 7 shipping methods.

Two different versions of the product have been released. CubeCart Lite is a free version, CubeCart Pro is an inexpensive commercial version.

Highlighted Features

  • Development flexibility with "Code Hooks"

  • Intuitive control panel

  • Image Resize/Cropper Tool

  • Google Analytics for eCommerce

  • Product pricing groups

  • Catalog search with advanced search

  • Optional customer registration


TomatoCart


TomatoCart is the new generation of open source shopping cart solution, branched from osCommerce. It is easy to download, install and update.

People from different countries have different favored payment methods. Just pick up the right one for you among the 26 built-in payment methods in TomatoCart (including Amazon IPN, Authorize.net, PayPal). The system has only one language, English, set by default. But you can upload and manage your language in the Languages section. TomatoCart offers multi-currency support and different shipping methods.

Highlighted Features

  • RIA based Administration Panel

  • Search engine optimization

  • Web Analytics (Piwik)

  • Lightweight framework

  • Content management system

  • Email system


Shopify


Shopify is a hosted ecommerce solution that provides you with everything you need to run a web store. You have full control of your website design, HTML & CSS.

Shopify is integrated with over 50 payment gateways including PayPal. You can also customize the checkout page into one of 50+ languages, or translate all the content, including the checkout page into any language. Shopify supports local currencies, tax rates, etc.

With a reasonable pricing and free trial, Shopify is worth trying.

Highlighted Features

  • Built-in CMS

  • Built-in mobile commerce shopping cart

  • Built-in blog software

  • Bulk import your inventory from an Excel or CSV file, eBay or Magento

  • Google Analytics integration

  • Free $100 Google AdWords credit

  • Built-in Google Website Optimizer support


BigCommerce


BigCommerce is a good choice for any small business that wants to start an online shop and maintain an eBay business. It makes it easy to setup your own professional web store - no coding or design experience required.

BigCommerce provides support for 50+ gateways and multiple currencies. It supports only the English/western character set at this time.

You can choose a suitable version of BigCommerce platform taking into consideration the size and demands of your business. The platform is affordable, besides, a fully-functional 15-day trial is free.

Highlighted Features

  • Complete creative control

  • Shopping comparison export to PPC websites Beso, BizRate, MySimon, NexTag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla

  • Ability to list your products for sale (BIN) or auction on eBay from your store's control panel

  • Flexible returns system

  • Google Website Optimizer

  • Promotional banners