If you’re looking around for ecommerce platforms then you’ve obviously decided to make the leap and to open your own online ecommerce store. In truth, deciding what to sell and where to source your products from is the first hurdle done and dusted. Whatever you’ve decided to sell and whether or not you’ve decided to hold stock or drop ship is not of a concern now. Now the attention turns to how to actually build your store. You also have the small matter of needing to market your store in order to attract customers, but we’ll save that for another time. Right now, it’s time to look at the software options out there so let’s take a look.

I’m going to assume you have already secured a domain name for your project and that you have suitable web hosting in order to power your store. Assuming all that is ready to go then all you need to look at now is the software which is going to power your endeavours. Forget the theme/design for a second. Whichever provider you choose you’ll most definitely be able to find a theme to suit so for now we’ll just concentrate on the subject at hand, the platforms. So let’s get started.

The Main Providers

In my opinion there are 4 mainstream providers. There are a ton of other smaller providers that in reality do have their own corner of the market but the big 4 pretty much dominate. You will seldom find a big online ecommerce store running on anything other than Magento, Shopify, Woocommerce or SquareSpace.

The reason for this, apart from the fact that they’re a rock solid solution is simply because of how well developed they are and the fact that they’re open source. This leads to a lot of development in terms of themes and modules etc so if the out of the box solution isn’t good enough you can certainly find enough modules and add ons available to complete the task at hand.

There are also a hell of a lot of tutorials out there featuring the major players from setting up right through to managing products and marketing to your customers.

Why Go Mainstream?

Whilst there are probably 50+ ecommerce suites that would probably suit your project just find you’re going to find yourself limited. Firstly, the lack of updates. Whilst you might think it’s fine to run your site on software that is a few years old if your site is functioning fine but you need to think about security. Smaller offerings tend not to be maintained/patched etc so there is a chance that someone may break into your website or use old scripts in order to launch spam mails or denial of service attacks.

Given the big 4 applications are heavily used, exploits and such are spotted and patched quickly and whilst the software is still in development it means that updates are frequent. The popularity of the software also leads to a lot of development outside the core teams by way of plugins or themes etc.

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Can You Migrate?

Of course the major players in this industry understand that people may want to move platforms and that users of other platforms may in future want to move to them. As a result of this pretty much all applications are compatible with the others by way of scripts and plugins so if you did want to move elsewhere, it’s certainly a possibility.

So as you can see whilst there are lots of solutions to choose from and you can effectively swap and change as you like. It’s going to come down to a matter of preference. If you have the time I’d suggest trying a few solutions to see which suits you best. Gien they all effectively offer the same thing in terms of design, customer and order management it really doesn’t make too much difference which one you go with. In 2016 they’re all geared up to be able to perform any task you could possibly imagine. It’s not like the 1990s when software such as this was first coming on the market and you really had no idea whether it was going to work or not.

Choose one of the major players and your store will have the best chance of success. Then you just have the small issue to deal with of actually driving traffic to your shop.