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20 January 2014

Reviewing the Best E-commerce App Available Online

Reviewing the Best E-commerce App Available Online
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By Manoj Tiwari

top-ecommerce-application-review01Ecommerce websites are big business nowadays with record breaking online retail sales hiking up quarter by quarter in fat figures. According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, revenues for the world’s 250 largest online retailers reached $4.3 trillion in the end of the fiscal year (June 2012-June 2013) despite the wary economic slowdown. In USA itself, Ecommerce business was $194.3 billion in FY-2011 and rose upto 62.8% more in 2013 with biggest gains encountered in festive months. A similar trend is taking air across the globe with online shopping websites increasing at a lightning speed and so is the need to hire ecommerce application developers.

New entrepreneurs are quickly landing their feet in the ecommerce industry expressing the need of a stable ecommerce solution to host their website on and start selling products in a jiffy. So far, the easiest and the most reliable cost effective solution has been to go with hosted ecommerce solutions instead of the licensed ones. With hosted shopping cart providers offering SAAS (software-as-a-service) solutions , you need not worry about server loads , maintenance costs, version upgrades, code customizations and a lot of other features as they regularly keep on updating their platforms in sync with the cut-throat competition, latest trends and comprehensive user requirements. Each platform comes with its own set of pros and cons and thus selecting the best available option is a hard nut to crack. So here we have critically compared the Top 5 hosted ecommerce solutions through scores, ratings and 7 important criteria to help you decide which one is the best bet !! Read them carefully and check it out yourself !!

Big Commerce – Proud to be the Most Powerful with Best Value

Big commerce is the most powerful hosted SAAS solution that lets you build your store cost effectively with utmost ease while not compromising on the versatility and marketing tools as well. Bigcommerce came into existence in mid 2009 and has pretty good number of clients to its credit so far.

Go with BigCommerce if you -:

  • Are seeking a platform which is User friendly, Versatile & Easy to set up.
  • Would like to choose a platform that has wide global presence and shipping network large enough to ship to your customers throughout the globe with utmost ease and in minimal possible time.
  • Are looking for a development framework that doesn’t charge you any transaction fees.
  • Love to play around the Drag and Drop Interface and built in Super Zoom feature that looks cool.
  • Are fascinated to know that Big Commerce offers unlimited storage, bandwidth and email accounts for your store.
  • Are ready to compromise on the free not-so-stylish designs and themes (100+). There is no “Premium Theme” concept in Big commerce and if you want to have that “wow” factor along with modern look , you need to consider some additional cost to get the front-end modified by hiring some professional creative designer  who is well versed with Front-end technologies like HTML,CSS, JavaScript etc.
  • Are looking to integrate all the advanced features and tools without paying anything extra. Big Commerce includes everything in their monthly fee.
  • Are likely to run in a need to import customers, products, images and variations into your store from a standard CSV file.
  • Would like to have military-grade security and encryption that the big banks use with 99.99% average uptime.
  • Are seeking a platform with good SEO features, Social Media Tools and integration with iContact, a newsletter service for creating email marketing campaigns.

Don’t Go with BigCommerce if -:

  • You want a built-in Blog with your store.
  • You dream of sleek ultra modern designs for your website.
  • You are likely to run into Technical difficulties with your store at midnight of weekend (Saturday/Sunday) and you get frustrated to know that Big commerce doesn’t offer any support channel before 9am and after 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. However best class in-house 24 hours support is available in weekdays (Monday – Friday).
  • You are ok with the fact that you won’t get to see any Theme Previews unless you give them your email id and Sign up for their Free Trial.
  • You are ok with the fact that BigCommerce offers Limited 3rd party App support.

FIGURES TO LOOK AT

  • No. of paying customers – 50,000+
  • Trial Period – 15 day fully functional free trial
  • The PRICING – Prices range from $24.95 per month – $299.95 per month
  • OUR SCORE – 9/10

Shopify  – The Elegantly Gorgeous

Founded in 2004, Shopify is known as the most gorgeous amongst all hosted shopping cart solutions available in the market due to its innumerable mobile friendly themes, exquisite designs and amazing apps.

Shopify suits you if –

  • You are going to run an online store for the first time and don’t know a single bit about ecommerce platforms. Shopify is the most user friendly platform amongst all others and best suites to those who want to go live with their stores as soon as in an hour or two.
  • You want to have an aesthetically appealing store with a collection of uniquely beautiful designs to choose from. But wait !! Apart from free themes, there are premium themes also generally priced between $80-$180. So, take care while opting one for your business.
  • You are looking for a complete mobile optimized site with powerful SEO features.
  • You are fascinated by their App store that offers a host of add-on features that can quickly integrate with your store. But again, for more advanced tools such as product reviews, customer wishlist, product recommendations and some exclusive apps, they will charge you extra money!!
  • You like their “Shopify Payments Feature” introduced for those who hate integrating 3rd party payment gateways and would like to associate with a platform that offers its own payment gateway to manage all your money in their Dashboard. Shopify waives off all your transaction fee if you choose this mode. However, it can integrate with a host of 3rd party payment gateways as well.
  • You are absolutely a newbie to this ecommerce business and want a platform that offers hundreds of qualified experts for your rescue. From Designing and development, you will get help even for the ways to popularise your store by their Digital Marketing experts.
  • You would like to get an instant reply to your messages and round-the-clock (24X7) support via mails, live chats or phone call on all days including weekends. Shopify is known for its one of the best support teams in the ecommerce industry.
  • You are looking to have a shop with complete Content Management System with built-in Blogs and Page Publishing also.

Shopify doesn’t suits you if – :

  • You are not ready to shell out extra dollars to pay the Transaction Fee that Shopify charges on every product. If in near future, you start selling at speed of light, Shopify proves to be the most expensive solution.
  • You are not ready to compromise on Web Analytics part which is not that good as compared to other platforms.
  • You are familiar with the coding part and would like to change everything with your store the way you want. Since, Shopify platform uses its own programming language Liquid, it becomes pretty confusing to play around with the codes.

FIGURES TO LOOK AT

  • Trial Period – 14 day fully functional free trial
  • No. Of Paying Customers – 80,000+
  • The PRICING – Prices range from $13.29 per month – $161.51 per month
  • OUR SCORE – 9/10

Magento Go – Feature Rich meant for Small Business Storefronts

Magento Go is also a hosted ecommerce solution which boasts of a pretty good clientele by offering the same flexibility and power as its most famous non-hosted counterpart Magento that is serving more than 2,00,000 merchants worldwide.

Magento Go suits you if  -:

  • You are from a creative agency, a team of designers or developers who want to create and manage everything from the scratch and you want to have complete control over as many aspects of your website as possible. This is because Magento Go gives you full programming access and an impressively stable core that lets you customize everything from products and reports to marketing and content, the way you want.
  • You are looking for a flexible design and advanced features like complicated discount conditions, upselling/cross-selling, surveys etc built right into it.
  • You are looking for a Feature-rich platform that comes with reasonable cost , mobile friendly stylish themes and huge library of extensions, tools and add-ons
  • You seek a platform that is architecture-wise scalable with built-in support for almost all Payment-Gateways.
  • You are looking for Powerful Marketing tools and exclusive Web Analytic Features.

Magento Go is a Big No-No if  -:

  • You are not from IT background and are not comfortable bearing a dent in your pocket to hire ecommerce application developer if something goes wrong with your store. This is because the response from the Magento Go support teams is very very slow and absolutely unsatisfactory.
  • You want a platform that is easy to use and lets you list unlimited products on your store with unlimited bandwidth and storage capabilities. Even the most expensive package of Magento Go doesn’t allow you to list innumerable products and doesn’t come with unlimited bandwidth.
  • You want a built-in Blog for your store

FIGURES TO LOOK AT

  • Trial Period – 30 day fully functional free trial
  • The PRICING – Prices range from $15 – $125 per month
  • OUR SCORE – 8/10

Volusion – Unbeatably Classic with Hidden charges

Volusion is the oldest hosted shopping cart solution provider that comes with advanced vZoom features, exclusive integration capabilities, easy to customize platform and powerful functionalities, all at your doorstep.
Volusion is a platform that-:

  1. Offers user friendly interface with good SEO tools , mobile optimized themes and one page-checkout functionality
  2. Provides good Mobile commerce features, excellent customer support , Social media integration tools , Coupon integrations and Newsletter functionality at your fingertips.
  3. Doesn’t charge you any transaction fee.
  4. Starts cheap by limiting its functionalities and later on when you need to integrate add-on features and some indispensable features, you need to whip out extra money that increases your monthly bills to a considerable extent.
  5. Offers pre built store designs adhering to latest web design trends and standards.
  6. Offers unlimited storage in every plan and lets you list unlimited products if you go for their Premium plans.

Volusion is a platform that doesn’t offers -:

  1.  Built in Blog and Publishing Page
  2.  Too many Stylish Interface and themes to choose from.
  3.  Drag and Drop feature
  4.  Unlimited Bandwidth in even its costliest plan.
  5.  Good technical support and expert advice.

FIGURES TO LOOK AT

  • Trial Period – 14 day fully functional free trial
  • No. Of Paying Customers – 40,000+
  • The PRICING – Prices range from $15 – $135 per month
  • OUR SCORE – 7/10

3DCart – Not Upto the Mark

3D Cart is also one amongst the hosted shopping cart solutions with popular features and awesome tools but unfortunately due to its less number of themes and shipping options, it has not emerged triumphant in winning too many hearts.

3D Cart comes with

  1. Features like ‘Group Deals’ and ‘Too Low To Advertise’ which are not yet offered  by many hosted shopping cart solutions available in the market.
  2. Fantastic tools especially in the area of conversion.
  3. A Built in blog.
  4. Good customer support via Email and ticketing system with live chat and phone support as well. Kayako Fusion Help Desk Software which is known as one of the “World’s leading Helpdesk and live chat software” powers the Helpdesk of 3D Cart. So the customer reviews about their support team are pretty good and there are not much complaints so far.

3D Cart Ecommerce Platform lacks -:

  1. Advanced features like Loyalty Programs and a built in POS system.
  2. The ease to customize front-end to 100% extent.
  3. Detailed documentation, support on technical aspects and expert advice.
  4. Advanced features in the Admin interface
  5. User-friendly Interface with smooth process flow in comparison to other platforms.
  6. Number of available Free templates. Their premium templates are also not worth-paying.
  7. Enough Shipping options to sell globally.
  8. Good Content Management System.
  9. Versatility

FIGURES TO LOOK AT

  • Trial Period – 15 day fully functional free trial
  • No. Of  Customers – 15,000+
  • The PRICING – Prices range from $19.99 – $129.99 per month
  • OUR SCORE – 5/10

The Final Verdict

In our opinion there are 7 critical factors everyone should look for an ecommerce store before taking the decision of going live. Listed below are the features with best recommended considerations mentioned against it.

  1. Themes / Design/ Amazing Apps – Shopify
  2. Unlimited Products, Storage and Bandwidth – Shopify ~ BigCommerce
  3. Best round the clock Technical support and Expert Advice on all days  – Shopify
  4. Versatility, 100% Customization and Large No. of features – Magento Go
  5. Ease of Use  –  BigCommerce ~ Shopify ~ Volusion ~ 3D Cart
  6. Powerful yet cheap with less monthly costs – BigCommerce
  7. Best SEO and Conversion Tools  – Shopify ~~ Big commerce ~~ Magento Go

However, we advise everyone to make a choice only after having a Trial with the best ones that match your Online shop requirements as well !!

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