Selecting the right shopping cart platform for your ecommerce business

Looking forward to start an e commerce website? Which platform is apt for you? Hosted or Self hosted shopping carts? I am writing this article with a motive of helping non technical people who don't have much experience in online/e-commerce business. Your start should be perfect, selecting the right e-commerce platform plays pivotal role to success of your e-commerce store. Have a look at the worlds biggest and most successful e-commerce websites.

There are two kinds of shopping cart platforms

1. Hosted shopping carts
2. Self Hosted Shopping carts.

1 Hosted Shopping Carts

Hosted shopping carts are those ones hosted by the providers. You don't need any kind of technical knowledge to use a hosted shopping cart software. You don't need to worry about hosting,installation,maintenance,security in the case of hosted shopping carts. What you need to pay is a monthly subscription fees and the providers will take care of the rest.

So what all are the best hosted shopping cart platforms?

[well]

1.  Shopify
2.  BigCommerce
3.  Volusion[/well]

shopify

Have a look at my detailed article about selecting the best hosted shopping cart software and advantages of one over other. You might also be interested in creating a shopify e-commerce website in 5 minutes.

2  Self hosted shopping carts

These are shopping cart softwares that need to be hosted on your server. You need to worry about installation and setup.
You very much need to worry about some steps if you are preferring a self hosted shopping cart to hosted shopping cart(given below).

  • Buying a hosting/server space to host your website.
  • Downloading and installing the shopping cart software(Magento,Opencart etc).
  • Setting up the right e-commerce theme.
  • Need to worry about data security and backup measures.
  • You may need to hire a web developer for support(Most of the Hosted shopping cart service gives you 24 x 7 customer support ).

What all are the best self hosted shopping carts?

[well]

1. Magento
2. Opencart
3. PrestaShop

[/well]

I could have flooded this list of self hosted shopping carts with the available ones(like, zencart,cs cart,xcart,oscommerce,tomatocart etc). But I wish my readers could make a choice (rather than getting confused). Becuase of this specific reason I've shortlisted the whole self hosted
shopping carts into four(The best and practically useful four)

For sure first rank holder among these self hosted shopping carts would be magento.

Rank 1   - Magento

magento ecommerce

[alert style="green"]Why and  When should you use magento?[/alert]

1. Wide Range of features.

Magento is feature rich, you will get all or more features than you require in Magento. The powerful extensions offered by Magento can make your store more powerful.

Visit Magento Store

2. Ideal for large scale business.

The bigger your business, its very much likely to use magento as your ecommerce platform. I'd recommend opencart for small business as it is very light,fast loading
and less complicated. But once your business gets big you'd be forced to use Magento . Opencart lacks many of the awesome feature magento does have. It
would really be complicated in migrating from one platform(opencart) to other(Magento). So, its always better using Magento in terms of long term benefits.

3. Great Support and theme availability.

Magento does have the support of a big community, where as opencart and prestashop doesn't. If you need customization or some kind of error fix,you can ask the
help of the vast community of magento.

Lots of sexy magento themes are also available in the industry. As you all know,if you have a good looking website the half job is done.

Rank 2 - Prestashop or Opencart

opencart prestashop

[alert style="green"]Why and When Should you use opencart?[/alert]

1. Ideal for small scale business(minimalist features)

Well, if you are about to run a small scale ecommerce store ,I'd highly recommend opencart for you. Opencart is the lightest ecommerce platform you'll ever get.I did use
opencart for my online artificial flower store and it is doing good. I'm very much satisfied with the features provided by opencart for this particular website(I don't require much, I am not planning to take this store that big).

2. Better loading time compared to Magento

This is were Magento turns out to be a villain. As , someone said, Magento is good in theory but bad practically. Magento is an extremely heavy platform.
It does have more than 330 database tables (WordPress have 15 tables only!) Magento, with all those heavily coded library ,takes much more time to load compared to opencart.

3. Ease of use and low cost customizations

[alert style="green"]When Should you use Prestashop?[/alert]

All the above mentioned features are applicable to Prestashop also.

1. Advanced backend features than opencart

I would put Prestashop and Opencart in same position but if you need a little more advanced back end and management features and paid support, go for Prestashop.

Visit Opencart Store

Visit PrestaShop Store

Rank 3  - WordPress E-commerce using WooCommerce

wordpress and woocommerce

[alert style="green"]Why and When Should you use WooCommerce?[/alert]

Majority of the worlds website uses WordPress. 1 out of six websites runs in WordPress. Many million dollar business websites have been setup in WordPress.

Ok , I said too much about  WordPress , but this was just to let you know how strong is the WordPress Community and users.

It wont be a bad idea to start a shopping cart in  such a globally approved platform. Moreover WooCommerce plugin does have all the essential features demanded
by a shopping cart software. Being WordPress, the product management and customization will be easier. The vast WP community all over the internet can give you awesome support plus
woocommerce extensions are always there to make your ecommerce platform much better.

The best advantage of using woocommerce is the large availability of WordPress Woocommerce themes. Woocommerce themes are one of the most sold themes in themeforest now.

Are you familiar with WordPress?

Dont know much about WordPress ? Read this detailed article about the advantages of starting an online business in WordPress.
If you are already familiar with WordPress platform you wont find using Woocommerce any hard. So , Woocommerce would be a wise choice for you if you know WordPress very well.

Download WooCommerce for WordPress

Conclusion

The selection of the right platform depends on your business. If you are less technical and have some additional money to spend go for hosted shopping carts. You dont need to worry about the security,installation and all.If you are in a tight budget, go for self hosted shopping carts. Go for magento if your store is big. Use Opencart,Prestashop or Woocommerce for small scale business. I am always happy to help. Contact Me if you need some assistance in setting up your eCommerce store.

Author: Linjo Joson

Myself Linjo Joson, here in dollarfry , I write articles about creating and optimizing websites as well as making money from your online business. I am PHP/WordPress developer by proffession.I love web analytics and driving traffic to them(doing this for 9 years). You can find me on Google+