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Ecommerce Platform Guide

Ecommerce Platform Guide.jpg

Who doesn’t love a good chinwag about all the different eCommerce platforms on the market? Some candidates we’ve spoken to recently certainly do (although we understand they may not be representative of humanity as a whole).

It’s a saturated market; eCommerce platforms seem to be popping up everywhere. Here we’ve focused on the ones our candidates mainly used. analysed them closely and came up with a definitive guide. 

Magento
What is it:

Magento is one of the most commonly used platforms, primarily because it’s free and flexible. If a client of ours specifies any particular platform experience, 9.5 times out of 10 it will be of Magento.

Magento is certainly a tool for the serious professional. It shouldn’t be taken on by amateur development enthsusiasts; even the professionals struggle. One things is for sure: Magento is tricky but extremely powerful.

Magento is best used by companies expecting six figure turnovers (smaller businesses are better off with Shopify – see below). Although Magento is free, its supporting costs (set up, development, dedicated servers) all add up. Not to mention once you’re big enough to upgrade to Magento Enterprise, your costs skyrocket substantially. The power of Magento, plus the investment of time and money it demands mean that it is better suited to larger businesses.

What do users say: 
It’s ok. All platforms are a bit rubbish and frustrating but this one’s ok. Its open source nature means it’s quite entrepreneurial and things get done quite quickly.

Demandware
What is it:

Demandware boasts that it is “the industry’s most agile and scalable commerce platform”, and that it allows its clients to do more strategising and less development.

Demandware offers a choice: you can use it as a shell to power your site while you do all the techy bits, or you get one of their LINK partners to design, develop, launch, manage (the list goes on) for you. It bridges the gap between those who know code and want to test it, and those who know selling and just want to make money.

Unlike Magento, Demandware isn’t offered for free. Instead it works on a subscription model where they take a percentage of your sales (around 1%). For some that is a bit disheartening, but it also makes it in their best interests for your site to succeed, hence why they offer so much support and customisation.

What do users say: 
Users we spoke to were advocates of Demandware. Its scale and all the things you can do with it changed the way one person looked at her job.

Shopify
What is it:

Shopify is great for beginners or small businesses. No knowledge of code is necessary and it allows you to build a professional website (within their limits and templates, mind). It has lots of tools and integrations which don’t look like clunky plug ins, enabling small retailers to look slick and professional.

These don’t come cheap however, as all Shopify’s features come with price tags. If you have technical know how in your team to develop less ‘out of the box’ options, they will work out cheaper in the long run. For all of Shopify’s simplicity, it is not a quick and easy set up. Don’t expect to be up and making money in 15 minutes, the set up process alone is a big commitment.

What do users say: 
For someone with a small business, Shopify has been amazing. It allowed them to compete with bigger companies, look slick and get extra apps and features.

Bespoke
What is it:

Bespoke platforms are dwindling slightly with the better services the off the shelf providers are offering. Bespoke platforms will have substantially higher set up costs, but for businesses expecting to grow quickly they will find their open source platform will charge for more add ons, more space, or be taking a bigger and bigger chunk of the profits, making it a false economy.

Bespoke offers greater flexibility and customisation, allowing the site to grow with you, and meaning you won’t need to replatform with every new milestone.

However, as we have seen already, a lot of the open source platforms are bending their will to their customer’s. Flexibility is becoming a core part of the larger providers, and you can outsource your development to contractors or even bring someone in house. With a bespoke platform, that isn’t an option you have, you really need to keep going back to the original agency, tying you in. Which is fine, if they’re really good and reasonably priced. Not so fine if they’re not.

What do users say:
Users we spoke to had had problems with bespoke platforms. They felt tied in to their service, and that they were being ripped off for it. Scalability was also an issue with bespoke platforms; you can just get so much more done with the bigger providers.


Anything we’ve missed? Send us your platform gripes and loves here.

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