What is e-commerce?
E-commerce refers to transactions made over the Internet. Whenever individuals and companies buy or sell products and services online, they are engaged in e-commerce. The term e-commerce also covers other activities including online auctions, internet banking, payment gateways, and online tickets.
Now a little history first.
How did e-commerce emerge?
The first e-commerce transaction took place in 1994. A man named Phil Brandenberger used Mastercard to buy Stings Ten Summoners’ Tales online for $ 12.48. This particular transaction went down in history and signaled to the world that the Internet was “open” to e-commerce transactions. Why? Because for the first time, encryption technology was used to enable online purchases.
Needless to say, e-commerce has been booming since then. The emergence of e-commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba in the mid-1990s changed the face of retail. They have benefited greatly from the penetration of the global internet and the digitalization of the financial system, which has contributed to the decline in sales of many stationery companies.
The growth of e-commerce has also replaced the retail workforce. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that employment in the e-commerce sector grew 80% from 1997 to 2016. The BLS also predicts the number of e-commerce jobs will continue to grow, reaching 450,000 in the US by 2026.
Against this backdrop, it is clear that the highly competitive nature of e-commerce will continue to transform the retail industry and influence customer behavior. Starting an online business seems like an attractive idea to many savvy entrepreneurs these days, but before anyone learns this dynamic field of business, they must first learn the ropes of the e-commerce industry.
And that’s what this guide is for.
In this resource, we’ll dive into the e-commerce industry – how it happens, what types of merchants exist, and what platforms allow online sales.
Whether you’re looking to start an e-commerce website or already have an online store and just want to learn more about the industry.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform is essential to the success of your business. You choose the features you need, but on the other hand, you choose the challenges you will face as your business grows or changes. The flexibility and pricing of your platform can help you.
Before comparing e-commerce platforms, assume that you have largely defined your skills and strategies.
For example, some platforms are better for SEO purposes. You’d rather not build your e-commerce website and then find that it’s not optimized for your strategy. While some platforms find it restricting those with coding capabilities, those without that experience can benefit significantly from the straightforwardness of the same platform.
Keep your priorities in mind and take a look at the six e-commerce platforms available today.
WooCommerce has dominated its market for a long time. As a straightforward plugin for WordPress, it has many benefits, especially for businesses that have a website and are unexpectedly involved with e-commerce. WooCommerce offers a high level of adaptability and integrated analytics. Like almost all e-commerce platforms, this platform also offers all-day, daily customer support.
The plugin itself is free, but you’ll need to have your website and pay some associated fees. If you need a generic package, a competitor like Squarespace may be a better fit for you.
Shopify is very well known. This is an optional e-commerce platform for those who rely on or outsource social media marketing to sell. The platform is simple, flexible, and scalable for small and medium-sized companies. Also, you don’t have to worry about knowing a coding language to use it. Instead, the platform has a drag and drop interface that you can use to build your site.
Shopify is focused on sales and offers many features for Customer Experience Management (CEM) and enhancements. Shopify is struggling to get over the biggest shops. Shopify Plus can help you grow into a bigger business. However, if you are already a large retailer, this may not be the option for you.
Many companies are reducing their choice between Shopify and BigCommerce. The wholesaler can not only handle the big shops that Shopify is facing but also offer stronger SEO results. It has a one-way payment experience that can help you convert, but it still shows up briefly in one-click sales that Shopify does well.
Whether BigCommerce via Shopify will work for you, of course, depends on your strategy. When you choose BigCommerce, you can expect a high level of customization (if you have coding skills) and stable customer support. However, you can expect a higher price tag for many of the features other platforms include in their master plans.
If the higher price tag of the big trade isn’t possible, you can rate OpenCart instead. It’s open-source and free to use, although you can invest in add-ons, which can range from free up to $ 100.There are many additional alternatives, some with features you have to pay for elsewhere.
This platform also requires a lot of coding knowledge because it is very adaptable, but because the support is not as robust as other platforms. If something goes wrong, you may have to play around with your website while OpenCart is inserted to get it back to you.
Magento is a highly flexible e-commerce solution used by scalable midsize businesses. The platform offers powerful features that allow merchants to customize all aspects of their online store, including custom templates, extensions, and modules. If customers need to extend the functionality of their Magento store, they can always use an add-on to realize their online store vision.
Magento is considered a cutting-edge e-commerce platform and supports customers by maintaining an operational community of Magento developers and ecosystem experts helping startups maintain their online store.
With this fully hosted solution, you can manage a reliable e-commerce store in the cloud. Merchants using Salesforce don’t have to worry too much about maintaining and developing the platform as it is completely hosted by the company (although this might limit your freedom a bit).
One of Salesforce’s strengths is that it is designed for multi-channel retailers, with features that make it easier for retailers to sell through both physical and digital stores.
Oracle Commerce is an advanced e-commerce solution suitable for B2B and B2C retailers. It’s full of pre-built features that let you sell more complex items and data-rich deals.
It is a highly customizable e-commerce platform that allows merchants to customize every aspect of their online store and campaign.
Another popular e-commerce solution, Volusion allows merchants to create online stores, display their goods, and make payments on a single platform. Volusion comes with standard features including a website builder, shopping cart software, marketing tools, and more.
It is an open-source e-commerce framework that allows users to build Drupal online stores and applications. Drupal Commerce is very flexible and offers hundreds of modules that users can use to enhance and expand its functionality. Drupal Commerce also offers a Commerce Kickstart package which is integrated with the latest version of Drupal. It’s full of pre-built features that developers can use to quickly set up and customize all aspects of their online store.
Ultimately, the best e-commerce platform for your business is one that meets your coding skills and development expectations in terms of volume and the number of items on offer.
The right platform should also allow you to tap into the marketing strategies and customer experiences you need to grow.
Regardless of what you choose, you’re not choosing the right e-commerce platform – it’s a complex solution that will have a significant impact on your business.