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31 January 2013

6 Amazing Ecommerce Platforms to Build An Online Store

6 Amazing Ecommerce Platforms to Build An Online Store
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By Manoj Tiwari

The insatiable retail appetite has overflown into the online retail space. According to the UK firm Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), B2C electronic commerce sales will breach the $1.25 million mark this year proving that people are indeed spending online. If you’re a retailer who wants to get your own bite of this spending phenomenon, you should shop around and look for someone who can develop eCommerce website for you.

Before venturing out into any web or eCommerce application development, it’s necessary to do your due diligence. One way of doing this knowing what platforms are available where you can develop eCommerce website on.

You basically have three choices: hosted ecommerce platforms, open source ecommerce platforms and hosted shopping carts.

Open Source Ecommerce Platforms

Open source platforms first became famous among CMS websites and now, these platforms have also risen in popularity in ecommerce site creation and ecommerce application development. Essentially, you can download an open source ecommerce platform and choose where you want to host your site. This flexibility is attractive to many designers and developers. However, if you’re going to do it on your own, setting up an ecommerce site on an open source platform can be quite challenging. Further, customer support is very narrow and basically restricted to wikis and forums.

If you’re eyeing to develop ecommerce website using these versatile platforms, check out these tried-and-tested options:

Magento

Arguably the most popular open source platform, Magento has been the choice of many companies including both startups and established brands (i.e. Nike). While Magento also offers paid versions, the free or community edition packs a lot of features.

  • Does not cost a penny to download which can significantly bring down cost
  • Offers both free and premium design templates
  • Very active Magento community for add-ons
  • Easy order and customer management using the dashboard
  • Inclusive of marketing capacity
  • Compatible for browsing using mobile devices

PrestaShop

Used by more than 125,000 businesses worldwide and winner of the Best Open Source Business Application Awards in 2010 and 2011, PretaShop offer anyone who want to develop ecommerce website over 310 features, all for free. Some of the functionalities worth highlighting are:

  • Dynamic inventory management whether you have 10 or 1,000 products
  • Integration with Ebay
  • Cross selling of related products, hence improving the shopping experience
  • Ability to sell downloadable products
  • Superior quality stock management feature
  • Display and sell an unlimited number of products, attributes and categories

Hosted Shopping Carts

Lastly, hosted shopping carts give you the leeway to choose your own CMS and where you want your site to be hosted. What these platforms will provide are the checkout mechanism and the shopping cart itself. Since payment will be processed from their end, they will also provide security to ensure that all transactions are safe. This is a good option if you already have a CMS in place and if you’re site is already hosted somewhere else.

Two notable hosted shopping carts options are:

FoxyCart


The main features of FoxyCart is you can customize the look and feel of the checkout process and the shopping cart to match the visual identity of your current site. While FoxyCart aims to be simple, it is still equipped with many features including:

  • Compatibility for both small and large businesses
  • Coupon codes can be used
  • Options for one-page checkout
  • Total control over tax rates and shipping charges
  • Capability to sell digital merchandises

Digital Product Delivery (DPD)


As its name suggests, DPD is geared towards entrepreneurs who want to sell digital goods online (although you can also sell tangible products). It has a lot of useful features which include:

  • Convenient download process for your customers
  • Buyers are given a secure link to download their purchase
  • Hosting for your digital goods/files
  • Integrated with affiliate marketing
  • Mobile-friendly

Hosted Ecommerce Platforms

For a fee paid either monthly or annually, hosted ecommerce platforms will host your ecommerce website, will give you access to their ecommerce infrastructure and will provide technical support. The only negative to using this kind of platform is you can’t choose the host you prefer. But rest assured that most of these hosted platforms have strong ecommerce systems in place. Further, these platforms are pretty secure and security is a main concern among online shoppers.

If you opt to go this route, here are a few highly suggested hosted ecommerce platforms you should check out the following:

Shopify

Definitely one of the most popular platforms where you can develop ecommerce website on, Shopify boasts of the following advantages:

  • Convenient and fuss-free design implementation
  • Intuitive and visually appealing user interface
  • Unlimited bandwidth allocation
  • Equipped with content delivery network which boosts page loading speed
  • An array of design options which include free templates, premium templates and personalized designs
  • Extensive marketing tools including mechanisms for couponing, incorporation with MailChimp for email marketing and social media linking
  • Compatibility with more than 70 payment facilities
  • Mobile friendly through responsive design

Highwire


This is a platform which is very similar to Shopify, but is different in its own right. Develop ecommerce website using Highwire and reap the following benefits:

  • Perfect for business owners who pay a lot of attention to aesthetic creativity
  • Ease of use and convenient implementation of the ecommerce system
  • Well-crafted admin interface making it easy for business owners to manage inventories and products
  • Cross channel selling through Ebay, Bonanza and Facebook

Every forward looking business owner knows that the online retail battleground is a potent source of thousands of dollars in revenue. As such, ecommerce application development and companies who develop ecommerce websites are being sought after. This was meant to equip you with the basic knowledge before you embark on your journey to ecommerce success.

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