By Ritvars Lauza
This post is sponsored by Sellfy, an eCommerce platform for digital creators and small businesses.
If you want to start a brick-and-mortar business, choosing the right location is critical for your success. If you want to sell online, choosing the right eCommerce platform is equally as important.
Your eCommerce platform is the storefront you sell your products from, making it one of the most important decisions you can make for your business. However, choosing an eCommerce platform can be difficult. There are hundreds of different eCommerce platforms available online, which can make picking the right one an overwhelming decision.
Different Types of eCommerce Platforms
Ultimately, different eCommerce platforms are suited for different products, so we’ve created a list of the general types of platforms there are.
1. Open Source
Open source eCommerce platforms offer ultimate versatility. Using this platform, you can modify the code any way you want, giving you complete control over your online store. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Open source platforms require significant dev time to get up and running and you will also have to take care of many aspects of e-commerce that are usually taken care of when you use other eCommerce platform types.
If you want to use an open source platform, be prepared to secure your own hosting and PCI compliance, as well as troubleshooting most issues by yourself.
This kind of platform is often a good choice for businesses that are doing millions or billions in sales. Otherwise, they’re often too troublesome to justify not going with a simpler eCommerce option.
Because open source eCommerce platforms are so versatile, you can sell virtually anything on them—from physical products to subscription software, the only limit is your dev team.
- Highly adaptable
- Completely customizable platform
- Suitable for all types of products
- Code intensive
2. SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS eCommerce platforms are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of use and quick time-to-value. When you use an SaaS platform, you’re essentially “renting” software from a service provider.
Most SaaS platforms offer a pre-built UI that’s easy to use without any technical knowledge, making them a convenient choice for the average seller. You simply pay a monthly fee, set up your shop, and you’re ready to start selling without worrying about the technical problems that might come up with an open source platform.
Because they’re so versatile, you’ll find your fair share of SaaS platforms out there. Some platforms were created for selling digital files, while other platforms specialize in selling physical products.
When choosing a SaaS platform, your mileage may vary. Some common factors to look out for include:
- How much does the monthly subscription cost?
- Does it support instant payouts?
- Are extra features, such as marketing and analytics, included?
A good way to figure out if a platform is right for you is to check out eCommerce platform review websites to get an idea of how others are using it.
- Turn-key ready
- Large selection of platforms
- Your customization options are limited
3. Headless Commerce
Headless commerce is a specialized kind of eCommerce platform in which the shopping cart is a separate entity from the CMS system. A mix n match solution, headless commerce lets businesses build a customizable online store that still allows them to operate from their existing CRM system.
This platform is a common choice for businesses who already have a foundation that they’re used to but want to give the front-end a facelift. Using headless commerce, businesses can play with different APIs and shopping carts to create a unique system that works for their website.
- Easy customization
- Ease of implementation with existing systems
- You’ll need some coding knowledge
- You could run into difficulties with implementing different software
What Kind of Products Are You Selling?
Another factor to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform for your small business is what kind of product you’re selling. Typically, products fall into these two categories:
The right eCommerce platform for you will depend on what kind of product you’re selling, but don’t worry! There’s an option out there for everyone.
1. Physical Products
Physical products are products that can be ordered online and shipped to your house, such as books or clothing. When most people think of eCommerce, physical products are what comes to mind.
As a result, most websites are geared towards selling physical products. Some of the largest eCommerce platforms for selling physical products include powerhouses like Shopify and Magento, but there are hundreds of other platforms that specialize in selling physical products out there.
2. Digital Products
Digital products, on the other hand, are a relatively new form of product that is transferred instantly to your customer upon purchase. These products typically consist of digital files such as ebooks or PDFs and are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people realize how convenient they are to sell online.
Due to their budding popularity, websites for selling digital products aren’t as common. The top eCommerces platform on the digital scene aren’t too well-known
The question of how to choose the right eCommerce platform for your small business needs is a complex one. In order to answer it, you’ll need to take stock of your business and answer these questions:
- How much time can you realistically spend on setting up a platform?
- What kind of products do you sell? Physical, digital, or a mixture of both?
- How much do you want to spend on an eCommerce platform?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can begin to get an idea of what kind of eCommerce platform is right for your small business and start your search from there.
Remember, different eCommerce platforms offer different benefits, so take your time shopping around. The platform you choose will be a big factor in your eCommerce success, so read the reviews, take advantage of the demos, and sign up for the free trials!