Choosing an ecommerce solution

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by Faevilangel, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Faevilangel

    Faevilangel Website Critic Full Member

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    We get a lot of questions on the forums asking for the best ecommerce solution, and why members to tend to promote their favourite, I thought I would I would write up a post on the options available to you...

    What are the types of ecommerce solutions

    There are 3 main types of ecommerce solutions available, Hosted, Open source / pre-built and Custom, all offer their own advantages over each other, and below is my run down of these.

    Hosted Solution:

    A hosted solution is where a company run the website for you, you have a part of their website for your needs and they take the hassle away the technical expertise on running an ecommerce store.

    It's primarily aimed at new ecommerce stores, pricing ranges from free to £100 a month, you get a customer support line to speak to someone (this might be an extra add on) and some form of ticketing / forum system where you can get support from the company or other users of the software.

    The biggest players in the market are EKM Powershop, Big Cartel, Shopify, Bigcommerce and Magento Go. All vary in pricing and features.

    The main advantage of this option is the lack of technical expertise needed, you are just left to run the website (adding products etc) while they do all the bits you just don't want to do.

    You're limited to what you can do to your store though, you will be able to change how the store looks but adding new features is normally a big no.

    Pre-built Software

    A Pre-built solution is an off the shelf system which has already been built and you can either buy a license (paid) or use it for free (open source). The paid software normally comes with some form of customer support and the free versions normally have some form of forum for users to help one another.

    This type of solution is primarily aimed at the developer market, allowing website developers to offer a low cost solution to website owners to get an ecommerce store, the choice of which software to use will depend on the developers preferences.

    The software normally needs a understanding of development to do customisations although there are websites which sell themes and plugins for most of the common carts.

    Paid Software options include Cubecart and CS Cart, open source software there is Opencart, Prestashop and Magento

    The main advantage of these options is you get the source code, and you can literally do anything with the site, you want to build new features, go ahead but you will either need to be technical minded or have someone who can do it for you as you will need to install and set yp the site, and do the general maintenance.


    This is where you go if you have a totally unique idea that no system will currently do, it might be a new way to do a certain function or to link it to other software you use in the business (fulfilment etc). You're in the land of the big bucks and this is primarily aimed at growing businesses which just need something more than what other systems offer.

    Costings can range from a few thousand into the millions, depending on your idea and who you get to build it.


    There is no right or wrong answer in which type of system to go for, all have their advantages and disadvantages and every websites needs are unique, no website will ever be the same as another.

    So how do you decide which one to use? Research, look at the options they all offer, work out how much you could afford to spend on the solution and work out which one fits into your website projections (no point getting option #1 if you grow out of it in 3 months etc).

    Finally test your website solution (trial or demo basis) before signing up, testing will tell you if the solution is the right fit for you.
    Posted: Jan 21, 2014 By: Faevilangel Member since: Jun 29, 2009
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  2. william04

    william04 UKBF Regular Free Member

    124 15
    Choosing E-commerce platform or way of customization also depends on Need of Online business Entrepreneur, In case few products and sub categories to showcase on website then Pre build CMS are best option easy and quick to customize.
    Posted: Jan 21, 2014 By: william04 Member since: Jun 25, 2012
  3. Sports Trophy Co

    Sports Trophy Co UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    57 20
    I would definitely put time towards trialling and testing all the options as you generally find that your unique selling point is the hardest to establish. You don't find out about scale limits until your are in full development along with new users, new departments and new stores.
    Posted: Jan 21, 2014 By: Sports Trophy Co Member since: Nov 13, 2013
  4. RogerBa

    RogerBa UKBF Regular Free Member

    129 35
    Thanks Faevilangel that's a great summery that will answer most peoples questions without too much complication.

    One thing that I feel is important, but can't really put a value on, is "owning" the site. What I mean by that is having the ability to move hosting, do as you wish with it, add update at your own pace and not be in the hands of a provider, ie: the hosted option.

    While this may mean slightly more expensive initial costs (but not huge) and a more challenging technical requirement, I feel it's worth the extra effort in the long term. Its horses for courses as usual and the success of several hosting companies would suggest it's not that important to some others, but I'd be interested to hear other views.
    Posted: Jan 22, 2014 By: RogerBa Member since: Sep 17, 2012
  5. zigojacko

    zigojacko I say it how it is Full Member - Verified Business

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    I also wrote a piece a while back on the best open source ecommerce platforms on the market (these fall into @Faevilangel's 'Pre-Built Software' section).

    Whilst from early 2012, it can still prove a useful quick overview of what open source solutions would work best for your situation.
    Posted: Jan 22, 2014 By: zigojacko Member since: Dec 7, 2009
  6. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

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    The only thing I'd add is that this is a pretty rare scenario. Although many larger companies do opt for a custom solution, a good search of Source Forge could save them a lot of time and money.
    Posted: Jan 23, 2014 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  7. Brandsumo

    Brandsumo UKBF Contributor Full Member - Verified Business

    75 18
    It really depends what a company needs. We regularly build custom solutions that include features which can't be found elsewhere.

    Sometimes custom builds are the only way to go.
    Posted: Jan 24, 2014 By: Brandsumo Member since: Sep 30, 2013
  8. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

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    Agreed, but as I say, it's rare that an existing solution can't be customized with less work than starting again.
    Posted: Jan 24, 2014 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
  9. GarethShaw

    GarethShaw UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    One of the websites I am building uses Opencart and I have to say that there was a tonne of information on how to customise the application plus a whole host of people on forums who would help. I guess thats one of the benefits of a community driven open source platform.
    Posted: Jan 24, 2014 By: GarethShaw Member since: Jan 22, 2014
  10. gibby

    gibby UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Nice article. I personally like open source solutions as there are plenty of ppl out there to offer support and you are not tied to one support provider.
    One of the issues we have seen with custom made sites is when the developer goes out of business or dissapears. Other developers can charge heavily to sort out others sites or just opt to replace the site. We have seen this a few times with friends, in the past
    Posted: Apr 19, 2014 By: gibby Member since: Sep 11, 2007
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  11. Ecommerce Web Design

    Ecommerce Web Design UKBF Contributor Free Member

    41 8
    You need to take into account how the chosen platform handles SEO and how other stores using te platform perform in SEO terms. If you are no 1 for your term and you don't like your platform that is no big deal as you will have sales. If you are page 22 for your term and have a pretty platform then there are no sales. No sales = no business. Of course your site has to look pretty but without SEO performance your e-commerce site is dead.
    Posted: Apr 21, 2014 By: Ecommerce Web Design Member since: Feb 11, 2014
  12. Ecommerce Web Design

    Ecommerce Web Design UKBF Contributor Free Member

    41 8
    We have some preview screenshots of opencart version 2, that has realex as a standard payment processor out of the box and some other nice features. See here.
    Posted: Apr 24, 2014 By: Ecommerce Web Design Member since: Feb 11, 2014
  13. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

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    A useful introduction to the subject from the OP here, which you do well to read and take heed.
    Posted: Apr 26, 2014 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
  14. Mikey237

    Mikey237 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 5
    Magento is by far the best platform.
    Posted: Apr 29, 2014 By: Mikey237 Member since: Apr 29, 2014
  15. Angus From Sellr

    Angus From Sellr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1 2
    Hi all,

    I work for an hosted E-commerce platform called Sellr. Our parent company is a well known hosted shopping cart provider that has been around for over a decade and has 50,000 users. We launched Sellr last year with the aim of providing merchants with maximum functionality for a price that significantly undercuts the major players in this field. It would be great to hear any feedback or opinions from our customers or those who have used our free trial.

    Posted: Apr 29, 2014 By: Angus From Sellr Member since: Apr 11, 2014
  16. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,112 993
    This is a bold statement. For it to have any place here, I would love to hear the rationale for it, including a thorough review of all the main alternatives.

    Otherwise, it is just another post count builder, misleading and unsubtantiated.
    Posted: Apr 29, 2014 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
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  17. amac

    amac UKBF Regular Full Member

    426 33
    Nice piece @Faevilangel', would love to share that with readers of my blog. PM me if you're interested, I haven't done any guest posts yet but wouldn't mind starting with this.
    Posted: May 5, 2014 By: amac Member since: Dec 31, 2011
  18. altonroot

    altonroot UKBF Regular Free Member

    236 35
    This is very nice post. You have categorised the things perfectly. Which one is good is definitely an answer which depends on situation. It depends on how many products and categories you need to maintain. According to my experience for hundreds of products Magento is very good option. For more larger website, they should go for more custom option and should consult technical person.
    Posted: May 5, 2014 By: altonroot Member since: Feb 26, 2014
  19. Faevilangel

    Faevilangel Website Critic Full Member

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    Happy to let you post this on your blog, done this with another post for another member!

    I am on my phone and messaging is a right pain in the backside, if you send me a message I will get back to you when I get on the PC
    Posted: May 5, 2014 By: Faevilangel Member since: Jun 29, 2009
  20. Ansoff Consultancy Ltd

    Ansoff Consultancy Ltd UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1 2
    Very useful information. thank you.
    Posted: May 7, 2014 By: Ansoff Consultancy Ltd Member since: Apr 29, 2014