by Anna Kane , 3 years ago
The self-host eCommerce platform- a potentially cheaper, but definitely more customizable, more flexible, and more transparent solution if you’re looking to get your own online market up and running.
As it is expected in any trade-related domain, strategies vary, unexpected trends occur, predictions and expected outcomes are, well, just that, predictions, so things obviously aren’t going to be set in stone most of time, although platform owners seem to sometimes forget that and get stuck in their ways. The point I’m making is that what may seem a purely technical matter (after all, more bandwidth, more storage space, better server hardware, all this factors should equate into a an overall superior, more reliable service, right?) proves to be, when you step back and take a more, let’s say, holistic approach to the phenomenon, one of the many moving parts that directly affect customer experience, your brand identity, your marketing style and ultimately, your core values as a vendor. I’m of course alluding to the standard, often regarded as more reliable alternative, the hosted eCommerce platform. Designed as a Software-as-a-Service application, the hosted counterpart may sound quite attractive at first, with its promise of a shiny, out-of-the-box package, that is well maintained and consistent in its functionality. The problem with out-of-the-box is that it may actually keep you inside the box: this type of standardized package, corporate and intrusive in its implementation, may ensure that you’ll never break away from the pack and establish a unique, exciting brand identity for your business.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the ever-rising sea of options, so here are a few staples of self-hosting to consider:
WooCommerce– it may not be a standalone platform, but if you are into WordPress, it’s probably the best option out there. Flexible, customizable, powered by a numerous and equally dedicated community. The developers pride themselves on being an all-remote company, that grew from “from three founders in Norway, the United Kingdom, and South Africa to more than 150 team members in 32 countries.” They have stated their mission very clearly: “WooCommerce is committed to democratizing commerce and putting you in control of your own livelihood. Our core platform is free and open-source, empowering anyone to sell anything, anywhere.” Their extension store ensures great modularity, enabling you to scale and customize according to your needs.
Magento – perfect for larger-scale businesses, but still usable for smaller projects. It’s a very robust system, designed with accessibility in mind up to a point. Beyond that, the expertise of a developer is needed to fully take advantage of its many built-in features, for example its very powerful SEO tools, and to ensure that best practices are being implemented. If you’re leaning more towards the hosted alternative, Magento also got you covered: “Magento successfully integrates digital and physical shopping experiences, delighting customers. In addition to its flagship open source commerce platform, Magento boasts a strong portfolio of cloud-based omnichannel solutions including in-store, retail associate, and order management technologies.” In the end, it’s up to you to decide
PrestaShop – “an efficient and innovative e-commerce solution with all the features you need to create an online store and grow your business”. Created by a passionate team of Parisians, this service specializes in online retailing. They have helped many successful brands bring they products ever closer to their customers. They are backed up by a strong community, complemented by multiple branches of top specialists and contributors. Carrefour, K-WAY and Veja are some of the big names among their most loyal collaborators. So, if your looking to bring your products online, PrestaShop might be your go to platform.
OpenCart – ideal for start-ups and smaller enterprises, OpenCart was designed with accessibility in mind first and foremost. A bit older in the business, OpenCart stayed relevant throughout the years due to its ease of use and focus on global trading, provided by tools such as an exhaustive admin dashboard. Managing multiple stores from this interface is one of its key features, ensuring that your able to maximize your reach.
I just barely scratched the surface, as there remain many more options to be explored. However, any of these platforms is a great place to start, depending on your needs, expectations and most importantly, how do you want to present yourself to your customers.