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An ecommerce platform is software that enables purchasing and selling over the internet. 

It allows sellers to manage virtual assets, digital sales, and marketing in one central platform. There are multiple types of ecommerce platform solutions, and each type has unique benefits and advantages. 

The following will go over the types of ecommerce platforms on the market today so you can make an informed purchasing decision. We’ll cover:

Let’s go.

Types Of Ecommerce Platforms

The purpose of an ecommerce platform is to enable you to have a fully functioning online store where customers can purchase your products and services. 

There are a few different types of ecommerce platforms out there. Many of them come in a website builder format, which can save you a significant amount of time. Your website builder can give you the option to do everything yourself with minimal handholding, or it can include drag-and-drop features, making site building a breeze.

The three main types of ecommerce platforms are:

  • Subscription-based
  • Open-source ecommerce platforms
  • Headless

We’ll delve into these a little now.

What are the pros and cons of subscription-based ecommerce platforms?

A subscription-based ecommerce business model is more expensive than traditional ecommerce platforms, but they come loaded with many helpful features.

The pros include flexible online credit card processing, PayPal payment processing, SSL certificate encryption, tax handling, recurring revenue, scalability, web hosting, and more.

On the other hand, subscription-based ecommerce platforms usually require tech know-how and can be costly if you have an online store with lots of traffic.

What are the pros and cons of open-source ecommerce platforms?

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform options are gaining popularity, but their prices are rising as well. Companies are looking for a way to retain the benefits of using a large ecommerce site without the hefty price tag, which is where open-source platform options come in.

Open-source platforms are free and easy to install. They usually have a good number of features that you can easily customize. You can easily connect them to other ecommerce tools and add-ons for things like shopping carts, marketing, and returns management because the open-source nature lets you have complete control over customization. The downside is that they don’t come with customer support like subscription-based solutions do. 

In fact, an open-source ecommerce platform (like Magento) requires a fair amount of tech know-how. You can install different plug-in options from the commerce cloud with this platform, but you need to be able to install it yourself. 

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What are the pros and cons of headless ecommerce platforms?

Now that customers are getting their content from multiple touchpoints, it’s a business’s job to deliver quality content on all of these platforms. That way, B2C ecommerce companies can keep up with the demands of customers. 

Older ecommerce styles simply struggle with these modern technologies. That’s where headless ecommerce platforms come in. 

A hosted ecommerce platform like this is a great option for people who want to have complete control over their online store and all the data that goes with it. They also offer some powerful features, like A/B testing, which can help you determine what works best on your site to increase conversions.

The downside is that they can be more complicated to install. Also, as with open-source ecommerce platforms, you don’t get customer support for your online store.

What To Consider When Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform?

The first thing to consider is whether an ecommerce platform has all the features that will help you successfully run your business. Some key things to look out for include the following:

  • Is it compatible with your website’s design and layout? If not, does a website builder like Squarespace have an option that will work?
  • What kind of technical know-how is required to get everything up and running smoothly?
  • Can you easily find answers to your questions? 
  • How often do they update their hosted platform with new features and capabilities?

The next thing you need to consider is whether the ecommerce marketplace has many online business users. That way, if something goes wrong, there are likely tons of other people out there who’ve experienced the same issues and have found a hosted solution.

The third thing to think about is how scalable your ecommerce website will be as you grow your online store. Some platforms are more suited to small electronic commerce businesses, while others can easily scale with an ever-growing business! 

Finally, you need to consider what kind of support is included in a platform. Some ecommerce platforms offer 24-hour support as part of their package, while others require you to rely on online tutorials for help or pay extra if you have any issues.

How do you determine which ecommerce platform is best for your business?

The first step here is to figure out your individual business goals and target market.

For example, a new business owner with a product only intended for sale in the U.S. would benefit more from low-cost ecommerce software that doesn’t offer international shipping. An established business that plans to scale up and expand into new markets will need an ecommerce platform that easily supports different currencies and languages. 

The next thing is to consider how much support you will need. If you’re just starting out and can easily handle things on your own, then an adless ecommerce platform could be a great option! If you need more help with things like marketing or customer support, it might make sense to choose one that offers 24-hour assistance. 

Important Features Of Ecommerce Platforms

When choosing an ecommerce platform, there are many important features to consider, including the following:

  • Scalability: The platform’s ability to scale up to meet the demands of a growing customer base
  • Ease of use: An attractive user interface and straightforward checkout process with multiple payment options 
  • Integration: A platform that works well with other plug-ins, add-ons, and automation and optimization tools
  • Appearance: A professional appearance with attractive navigation features

Customer experience should be the driving factor. A good ecommerce platform will have all of these features and provide a pleasant shopping experience. It should also be easy to set up and operate. 

What factors affect the cost of using a given ecommerce platform?

Many factors affect the cost of using an ecommerce platform. Here are some of the things you need to consider:

  • Some platforms limit the number of products or types of items that you can have available for sale at once, which can be frustrating if your online business is new and if you want to test things out.
  • Some ecommerce platforms offer a flat transaction fee for every item sold, while others take a percentage of the sale. This is especially important when considering international sales.
  • Some ecommerce website options charge extra for 24-hour customer service, while others have an in-house team on standby and ready to help.

How should you choose an ecommerce platform by ease of use?

Ease of use is an important factor in choosing an ecommerce platform. The easiest ecommerce platform should offer the following elements:

  • A simple sign-up process that walks the user through the information needed.
  • An organized dashboard or main page that clearly highlights the tasks available.
  • A quick-loading platform that requires few extensions to run.
  • A clear and accessible help center and easy navigation tools.

Ease of use is vital to the success of an ecommerce platform. A platform that is easy to read, navigate, and interact with will ensure higher traffic.  

Learn more: Essential Ecommerce Platform Features

Ecommerce Platform Options For Your Business Type

Make sure you’re pairing the right ecommerce platform with your business type. Some website-builder sites are better suited for SaaS companies, whereas others are solely designed to be a B2B ecommerce platform. 

Getting this wrong could mean you aren’t getting all of the features that you might need, which could end up hurting your business. Luckily, a website builder like Squarespace has a template for every type of ecommerce website. 

There are many ecommerce platforms for small businesses, including Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.

Shopify is user-friendly and provides a turnkey online store solution right off the bat, with no back-end HTML coding skills required whatsoever. If you choose to use this for your ecommerce transactions, be sure to pair it with Amazon Marketing Services to grow your business.

Next is BigCommerce. While this platform doesn’t offer quite as many marketing features, it’s still a great ecommerce solution and worth considering if you’re on the hunt for an affordable option for your online shop.

WooCommerce also falls into the affordable category but offers a lot more customization options. If you’re looking for something unique and tailored to your specific business needs (like a SaaS platform), then this might be just what you’ve been searching for.

Large businesses have a lot more options available to them when it comes to enterprise ecommerce platforms. However, the same few still stand out.

Magento Enterprise offers all the features you could ever need as an enterprise-level company, ranging from marketing and analytics to security and support. If your business is looking to grow and sustain this growth, choosing Magento as a platform provider is a smart choice.

Next up is BigCommerce Enterprise, which falls under the same price range as Magento but offers fewer features. However, if you’re just starting out small or already have an established ecommerce business that’s growing quickly, then it might be the better choice for you.

Finally, Shopify Plus is like BigCommerce in terms of features but comes at a much higher cost point due to its enterprise-level ecommerce support and availability. This ecommerce solution is recommended if your business has outgrown boutique or small online business needs.

What types of ecommerce platforms are best for businesses interested in improving their customer experience?

If your company is focused on improving your customer ecommerce experience, you’ll need to choose a customer experience (CX) platform that allows you to customize just about everything you want in real-time. This way, you can truly tailor your online store to every customer.

You’ll also need an ecommerce platform that works on tablets, smartphones (via a mobile app), desktop computers, etc. The higher your ecommerce functionality, the happier everyone will be. 

Lastly, the best ecommerce platforms work seamlessly with your email marketing, your marketing tools, and your social media channels, specifically Facebook and Instagram. You’ll want to make sure you can sync these two together to advertise on each of them at the same time. This way, you’ll stay ahead of all the competition. 

Remember that most customers have more than one social media account, which means social media is where they’ll likely go first when seeking a solution to a problem.

As time goes on, new ecommerce platforms are developed, and current ones advance in their features. This is due to the market demands for certain things to be improved or added to these online store systems. 

How do you determine which ecommerce features your business needs?

This is tough because you don’t want to invest in features that won’t benefit your ecommerce business model, especially when they can cost money. 

You can try working with a free ecommerce platform to see if it’s something you like and want to use before spending time and money learning how to set up an online store on a paid one. 

Finally, it might be helpful for your business to invest in what your competitors are using so you know exactly where you need to be and how you can get ahead of them. This way, your online store is the one everyone will want to buy from.

Need expert help selecting the right eCommerce Solutions Software?

We’ve joined up with to give all our readers (yes, you!) access to Crozdesk’s software advisors. Just use the form below to share your needs, and they will contact you at no cost or commitment. You will then be matched and connected to a shortlist of vendors that best fit your company, and you can access exclusive software discounts!

Find the Ecommerce Platform That Fits Your Business

Your ecommerce platform is a key decision along the way to creating your ecommerce store. With platform types available for businesses of all shapes and sizes, you're sure to find the option that's right for your needs.

Take a look at the links below to find our top platform recommendations in a number of categories.

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By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is The Ecomm Manager's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School. He also hosts The Ecomm Manager Podcast, discussing ecommerce best practices, customer experience, branding, inventory management, shipping and delivery, and analytics with expert guests.

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