Introduction to E-Commerce Shops

Without a doubt the internet changed the way business is conducted. Selling products and services can easily be scaled, promoted and realized through your own interactive webpage. For full stack developers it’s another way of bringing additional value to the market. I love the idea of selling things so easily — that’s why I wanted to take a look at it.

📄 Table of contents


“Intensity is the price of excellence.”
— Warren Buffett

Now there are literally hundreds of possibilities to create your own web shop.

A basic distinction can be:

  • Hosted ecommerce software (more user-friendly)
  • Self-hosted open source ecommerce software (more advanced)

Hosted E-Commerce Software

Hosted ecommerce software doesn’t need your technical understanding at all. There a fixed features you can use and combine to build your store. The user experience is mostly designed for simple drag and drop. It is a fast setup but not really flexible to your personal wishes. The following services are the biggest in my opinion:

1. Shopify

The most famous one is Shopify.

They provide

  • Over hundreds of professional themes
  • Lots of apps to extend the functionality of your store
  • 24/7 support
  • Experts for additional features for your shop

They provide different pricing models depending on your desired size, scalability and features.

Start your Shopify experience right here

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is the biggest competitor to Shopify and provides pretty similar features. BigCommerce provides more features in the basic version than Shopify and adds some specialized features for promotion in certain “sales channels”. Due to the fact that Shopify is so large and well-known it provides overall a little less options in my opinion. Nevertheless they provide a lot and should definitely be considered when building your own web store.

3. Wix eCommerce

Wix is well known for their services since they put a lot of money in their marketing. Their shop system suits beginners and smaller businesses perfectly. They are purely drag and drop, and are very well-versed in that. Very fast and easy users can create very professional and good looking shop interfaces with basic features. They are also a great fit for test driving your business ideas.

Pricing isn’t really that transparent though. It depends on your pricing model, time frame, amount of features, storage, etc. For me as user it takes time to actually compare that to other web shop services like BigCommerce or Shopify.

Self-hosted E-Commerce Software

Self-hosted shops require technical and coding understanding or a developer to build something. It’s the counterexample for hosted shop software. They provide a lot of flexibility but aren’t that easy to set up without knowledge of the corresponding necessary services.

A good way to start is using Open Source Software. They require you to install them into your own host — so you’ll have to set up, configure and manage your own hosting service. After that you need to install a shopping cart software into your hosting account. Some hosting services provide a 1-click installation process, but be aware to invest time for this process.

Afterwards you can design your own shop appearance the way you want. (Templates can reduce time and still provide great looks)

Anything else, for example any functionality features can added accordingly to your needs, which provides great flexibility.

Examples for Open Source shopping carts are:

Magento

Magento knows its main market — it encourages intermediate developers to build their site.

  • it’s available as a free download and can be installed at any server
  • it’s available as a hosted service for money

Magento is your all-in-one solution for e-commerce, offering a ton of features with basically nothing missing from the platform.

Or, as Liz Hull concluded in her article:

As far as open-source software goes, Magento is one of the best. Its rich feature set and ever-expanding pool of add-ons and integrations make Magento a reliable option for a store that’s hoping to expand. If you’re prepared to trudge up that steep learning curve, Magento could be the platform you’ve been looking for.

Check out this guide for more.

WooCommerce (WordPress)

A good conclusion from this article:

WooCommerce is a low price solution (if you keep your extensions reasonably priced), and it does an excellent job of harnessing WordPress’s SEO and functionality for your benefit. And, if you’re willing to work through technical issues with only some guides and forums to lean on, WooCommerce could be the right option for you.

or this article

Stan Lee, the author of the first Spiderman, wrote: “With great power there must also come great responsibility!” This is exactly what you’ll have with WooCommerce. It’s powerful, but at the same time it can give you a really hard time. There are so many possibilities for what you can do with WooCommerce, but this can become quite overwhelming for a beginner. Even though WordPress and WooCommerce are pre-installed with Bluehost, the technical knowledge that’s required is pretty high (and we’re not even talking about coding).

OpenCart

OpenCart fits great for starting your first self-hosted shop service, since it’s easier and cheaper compared to it’s bigger competitors.

One article from ecommerceguide concludes:

That being said, OpenCart is actually quite simple to learn, and the interfaces are very friendly. Right off the gate, you get all the functionality required to get you started and selling your first products.
However, if you’re a bit further down the road, installing new features in OpenCart can become expensive. New modules go for anything up to even $300. So at that point, you are probably better off with other solutions that offer more features free of charge.
In short, OpenCart is a good platform to get started with. Probably not perfect to scale.
https://unsplash.com/photos/OCrPJce6GPk

Conclusion

These are just some examples for frequently used software.

In my opinion estimated growth is an important factor for choosing your platform.

As Jeremy Wong argues in his article:

But what if your business starts to grow? Sales volumes are up, new product creations are being demanded from our shoppers, and you now have a lot less time to deal with a lot of operational and administrative issues. This is where picking a good ecommerce software with a strong platform will help save your sanity!
Self-hosted, open source shopping cart software do have a lot of options for this. But if you are looking for similar solutions for hosted shopping carts, Shopify and BigCommerce both have Apps that can be bolted to your online store to “extend” their functionality. This will automate a lot of business tasks for you, freeing up your time to address more important issues instead of doing a lot of tasks manually.

His article really addresses the key aspects of E-Commerce software . In the end, businesses have to weigh price, effort and scalability for their ultimate decision.

Useful links & credits

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