Even if you have no prior experience in web hosting, online store software is great in helping you build your first product or service website. Choosing the best online store software to use can be pretty tricky, though. There is a ton of them, and they all promise to make building an online store as easy as possible. What’s worse, they all seem to offer the same features and tools!
It is difficult as a beginner to sort through all the offers, promises, and technical jargon that the e-commerce world can throw at you. Some of it may even seem a little crazy. But guess what? You can totally use some of this software to easily build your own online store, and it doesn’t have to be difficult at all. This article aims to clear up some confusion for you and give you a good idea of what online store software you want to use.
First, it is important to note there are two types of online store software. The first type is hosted online store software. With this, you simply sign up at the online store software’s website and get busy building your online store, which they host. The second type is self-hosted online store software. With this, you need to install the software on your own server to set up your online store. As you may have guessed, hosted online store software is way easier to use than self-hosted online store software is. However, self-hosted online store software is ideal if you need a high degree of customization or have a high volume of traffic. Fortunately, if you need to use self-hosted online store software, there usually are plenty of step-by-step tutorials online that can help you through the installation process.
Typically, people who use hosted online store software do it because they don’t want to have to worry about the technical details of their hosting, security, updates, or any of the other work that goes in to hosting your own online store. They want a simple turn-key solution that comes with pre-installed shopping carts and payment processing. Additionally, hosted online store software allows you to build your website through simple drag-and-drop options.
The Best Hosted Online Store Software of 2018
One of the best online store software options available today is Shopify. In fact, you have probably heard of it before — it’s just that popular. Shopify is great for both small beginning businesses and thriving large businesses, so you can rest assured that they have the scalability you need to grow your online market.
Shopify comes with over 100 professional, beautiful themes that are mobile ready and quick loading. It also includes over 1,400 apps that can be used to extend the functionality of your online store. Support is always available 24/7, and there are also pre-approved, qualified experts available that you can hire if you want to customize your website.
Shopify includes a drag-and-drop editor so you can easily customize your website yourself. Overall, it is a one-stop-shop that allows you to easily build an online store without needing any coding experience. Despite its simplicity, Shopify can host any level of business, from small business to big businesses that generate millions of dollars in sales.
A “pure” drag-and-drop website builder, Wix is well-known for its ease of use by allowing you to drag-and-drop anything anywhere on your website. This also makes Wix a very flexible website for small businesses to use to build an online store. You’ll find that Wix offers more precision in adding product images, slideshows, text, etc. than other online store software does. This can help you immensely in building a beautiful, eye-catching, unique online store.
Wix is a little less advanced than most online store software. This is a strength for Wix though as it emphasizes promotion of your products and services over the in-depth analytics a lot of large businesses like to focus on.
Wix is great for small, independent businesses who want easy and clean store configuration. It fares best for store owners that aren’t planning on selling many products or services and that have very simple e-commerce requirements, such as not needing payroll integration or fulfillment software.
Another one of Wix’s strengths is that it offers a huge variety of online store related templates with which to get started on building your online store website. This can take you a long way in building an online store that is eye-catching, professional, and that instills trust in potential customers. Wix also makes it easy to add products and stock, and it offers a fully integrated shopping cart which can process payments through Stripe, PayPal, WorldPay. You can also process offline payments.
Wix Code allows you to add your own code snippets as well, so you can build a website that is truly your own without needing a professional developer.
So if you are an independent contractor or own a small business, only want to focus on e-commerce essentials, and don’t have any special requirements, Wix is probably one of the perfect online store software solutions for you.
You can also build your website without getting tangled up with coding by using BigCommerce. BigCommerce is great for small businesses as well as large businesses. It features all the e-commerce tools you need to build your online store, the ability to grow your sales through leveraging on social channels, an App Store that offers a ton of advanced tools you can add (like Shopify), and 24/7 support.
BigCommerce is one of the best hosted online software providers you can get, and their biggest competitor is Shopify. However, they both have their pros and cons.
BigCommerce has more tools available in their starting package than Shopify does. However, Shopify has better store designs, more apps, and a larger amount of experts for you to choose from if you want to hire someone to design your online store for you.
Support is available from BigCommerce through chat, phone, or email — as it is with Shopify.
The Best Self-Hosted Online Store Software of 2018
Magento is an open-source online store content management system that is most notable for being free to download, having a strong user community, being scalable, and also being highly customizable. However, developer skills are needed to work with it, so it’s got a steep learning curve to contend with. Also, since it is an open-source project, there is no official customer service to support it.
Magento carries a huge feature set which has made it one of the most popular online store software offerings. While it can be difficult to set up, once you do have it installed it features a clean and easy to navigate dashboard. Magento has so many features though that you can easily get lost navigating it. Adding products to Magento is just as easy as it is with other online store software. Magento also features a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor which allows you make changes to your product pages.
WordPress with WooCommerce
WordPress is an open-source content management system with the ability to be turned into an online store through the use of the WooCommerce plugin. It is relatively easy to install and get started with. While there is some technical savvy required to install it, this is easily accomplished through following one of the many step-by-step tutorials that are online for it.
WordPress includes thousands of design templates to choose from, as well as thousands of plugins. With it, you can create an online store that has all kinds of features, from slideshows to customer forums. You can also very easily find a template design that works for you.
The WooCommerce plugin is customizable and scalable. You can use the free WooTheme it comes with, or choose one of thousands of professional themes to use with it. Adding products may seem a little counter-intuitive since it uses WordPress’s blogging format to do it.
Open Cart is an open-source online store content management system which features a beautifully designed user interface, a highly customizable environment, and numerous integrations. Unfortunately it has a steep learning curve due to the need to dive into code to make changes to your website.
Open Cart comes with an astounding 35 payment methods built-in, and over 14,000 extensions available. You can also host multiple websites from one installation. There is no official support options, but Open Cart’s user forums are very active and eager to help newcomers.