For anyone who is planning to start a new ecommerce business in 2018, it’s important to first understand how digital commerce has evolved in past 2-3 years and where it is heading. Beyond mobile and social, we’ve seen just about every aspect of ecommerce evolve. Let’s have a look at the major highlights that will shape and influence ecommerce now and in the future.
With increasing amounts of data, artificial intelligence (specifically, machine learning) has entered the larger world of ecommerce. It has not yet reached a saturation point but the big players like Amazon led the way forcing anyone who would like to compete to follow suit. Two features in particular — reorder and subscription services — are meant to offer personalized shopping experiences based on your past shopping preferences. The level of customization has increased dramatically, thanks to all the technological advancements that we saw in the wake of improved user experience (such as AI, AR, VR) in past few years. Whether it’s integrating a chat system or prompting call-to-action buttons, all improvements focus on offering the best possible user experience. According to Toshi Mogi, Frog’s Assistant Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, “The customization trend will only increase in 2018”). Consumers are finding digital wallets attractive. Therefore, online stores too, are adding this new payment option to their websites. According to Finder.com, “An estimated 106.6 million American adults are swapping traditional methods of banking and purchasing for something more tech-forward: a digital wallet.” It’s a sign for upcoming startups to invest in payment features that customers already expect. Mobile users have increased, but their conversion rates are still low … or are they? Smartinsights found that “…although mobile (phone and tablet) accounted for 59% of all sessions by device on e-commerce sites, these mobile browsers made up just 38% of revenue.” And then later concluded that, “Mobile users are on the site to consider purchasing and make up their minds as to what products they want. As a result, they are extremely important and should never be ignored. The fact they then go to desktop to make the purchase does not mean you can neglect the mobile experience.” (See related article, Here’s Why Mobile Payments Are The Future Of Commerce). Since the role of analytics is crucial in improving conversion rates, a built-in analytics system is essential for every ecommerce website. If you can’t collect relevant data, you can’t learn about the customer behavior, which is at the heart of all conversions. Simply put, a focus on analytics is important to run an ecommerce business successfully.
With these developments in mind, I have assembled a list of top seven ecommerce platforms that can help you get started in 2018. Before we begin, let’s acknowledge that amid this cutthroat competition, only the right combination of business model and ecommerce platform will survive because your traction in the ecommerce world depends a lot on the kind of technology you are equipped with. You have to choose a platform that can meet your own distinct feature requirements as appropriately and as uniquely as your individual business model. Whether you want to launch a conventional ecommerce store, or a multi-vendor marketplace, this list will save you some of the hard grunt work. Ultimately, however, only you can determine which platform is best for you.
A Canadian-based ecommerce solution, Shopify has been helping online businesses across the globe with a sharp focus on the trending social commerce and mobile shopping. Founded in 2004, Shopify has always kept up with the pace of evolving ecommerce trends and technologies, having broken ground on powerful additions such as social shopping whereby your customers never leave their social media platform in order to buy from you.
Abandoned cart recovery. The plethora of themes, plugins, and extensions. For $9, you can integrate Shopify directly with your FB account and make it an ecommerce store. Mobile-friendly shopping cart, seller mobile apps and many other mobile-based features available. Round the clock technical support via live chat, phone as well as tutorials, along with their powerful Shopify community forum.
Even with all the advantages of Shopify mentioned above, there are some downsides with the platform. The most prominent downside is the additional transaction fee you’ll be liable to pay if you don’t use Shopify Payment. Moreover, plenty of useful and practical extensions require additional investment. Perhaps most challenging is “Liquid,” Shopify’s own coding language, which requires ecommerce store owners to pay an incremental price for customization.
Beginner level ecommerce entrepreneurs who need a conventional ecommerce solution can benefit from Shopify. It is easy to use and can help you launch your ecommerce business quickly. Based on your requirements and your budget, you can choose from Shopify packages that range from $29 to $299 per month.
Released in March 2008, Magento is an open source ecommerce website platform. Its reliability and scalability has made it one of the most popular ecommerce platforms available today. Many prominent names such as Burger King, Huawei, Pepe Jeans and Liverpool F.C. have their websites built on Magento.
Open source and unlimited customization options. Usability and Manageability. More than 9000 plugins and extensions to make room for scalability. Free social media extensions. Extensive resource library for demos, new plugins, store management and everything around ecommerce stores.
Using Magento is not for everyone, especially if the store owner is not a programmer, or doesn’t have a team of programmers working on his or her team. And then there’s the price tag; the basic version is free, but getting an enterprise version means you’ll need to shell out at least $20,000/year. If you don’t have programmers on staff, be prepared to invest in third-party programming costs as well.
For Enterprise level online stores with a huge volume of products, Magento is the right choice. Not recommended for SMBs due to its complex store setup, cost and highly technical management requirements.
Specially designed for startups and SMBs, YoKart is a turnkey and features rich ecommerce marketplace solution to build multi-vendor stores such as Amazon, eBay,…