Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform for an Online Store

One of the most frequent questions we get at FarShore comes from entrepreneurs asking how to start an online store. This is understandable – choosing the right platform for your business will enable success. Likewise, choosing the wrong platform can leave you without the proper capabilities to fulfill orders or add new website features. Below, I have compiled four of the most popular eCommerce solution provider options.

Shopify

Tattly screenshot

With its recent IPO, Shopify is taking the eCommerce world by storm. The company has grown impressively, and hosts thousands of online stores. While popular, Shopify is certainly not for all eCommerce owners, instead best serving small startups without too many customization needs. A lightweight solution that enables non-technical store owners to get online quickly, Shopify requires little to no code and is ideal for a business that needs to get online quickly with little functionality. Though Shopify doesn’t charge any upfront development fees, users pay $29-179 as a monthly fee. Subscribers don’t have very much choice beyond basic design and content changes when trying to customize their website. At FarShore, we only recommend Shopify for very small eCommerce companies, as they don’t offer especially robust customization options and they tend not to scale well.

Highlights:

Cost: $29-$179/month
Payment Gateways: List here
Administrator Backend: Not Customizable
Time to Develop: Very short (hours)
Ecommerce templates: Many, see here

WordPress

Shytown screenshot

WordPress is an open-source content management system. Primarily intended for those needing to create and share content, WordPress was not built as an eCommerce solution provider. However, plugins like WP eCommerce and WooCommerce enable developers to integrate some eCommerce functionality into WordPress. WordPress works well for entrepreneurs who need lots of content customization options, and who additionally want to sell a few products to a small customer base.

Highlights:

Monthly Cost: Free
Payment Gateways: List here
Administrator Backend: Not Customizable
Time to Develop: Short (average 4-6 weeks)
Ecommerce templates: Many available through third parties

Magento

Bucketfeet screenshot

For companies with access to developers, Magento delivers a formidable eCommerce platform. Magento offers both frontend and backend customizations with few restrictions, and gives entrepreneurs the management tools they need to succeed online. The vast majority of FarShore’s eCommerce partners choose Magento, and for good reason; the eBay-owned company is widely considered best-in-class for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs alike.

Highlights:

Monthly Cost: Free (Added cost for Enterprise platform and support)
Payment Gateways: Most can be integrated
Administrator Backend: Customizable
Time to Develop: Fair (average: 10-12 weeks)
Ecommerce templates: Many, see here

Custom

Tablesavvy

Custom development involves a completely customizable solution for companies with complex needs. Each website is designed and developed from the ground up. FarShore engages our partners with custom development for complicated or untraditional eCommerce projects.

Highlights:

Monthly Cost: Free
Payment Gateways: All
Administrator Backend: Customizable
Time to Develop: Varies
Ecommerce templates: N/A

Summary

Just starting up and need to sell something online quickly? Take a look at Shopify. Create lots of content and want to sell a few products on the side? WordPress might be a great option. For most entrepreneurs who plan to launch and scale an eCommerce website, Magento is the best platform. If you have something unique in mind, custom development will serve your needs. While choosing the right eCommerce plan doesn’t guarantee your success– you’ll still need to worry about product selection, customer acquisition, and much more!– it will set you on the right path and remove any hindrances on your success.

Do you need help making a decision about an eCommerce solution provider or have other questions about how to start an online store? Contact our Farshore eCommerce specialists and let us help you with a decision!

Sam serves as an Associate Business Analyst at FarShore, where he executes on internal and partner projects. He previously ran Yumvelope, a monthly subscription box connecting regional snack producers with interested consumers. Sam is a student at Stanford University, where he studies Symbolic Systems. In his free time, he enjoys running and traveling.
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