Choosing the Best eCommerce CMS for Your Business
15 December, 2020
When trying to fathom out which eCommerce CMS is the best, even the most knowledgeable expert may be at a loss. The question is too tricky and requires looking at it from different angles. However, by determining and comparing the criteria that your ideal CMS should meet, the task of finding that very one becomes much easier.
It goes without saying that eCommerce has enormously contributed to simplifying life and has led to much smoother interaction between buyers and sellers. Furthermore, due to recent world events, its popularity has been witnessing significant growth as many businesses have started to consider the idea of putting themselves on the e-track.
The first stage of this is to launch an online shop where they’ll offer a range of their products to customers. The process of creating and placing content in the right way is demanding and requires attention to detail as making a mistake can be calamitous. And this is exactly when a CMS comes onto the stage.
To eradicate any possibility of making mistakes, you should carefully approach the task of choosing the right eCommerce platform and consider both advantages and disadvantages. We’re eager to help you conduct a comparative analysis of the most widely-used CMSs so that you can pick the right one and utilize it to build your online shop. So, here we go!
The criteria for choosing the best eCommerce CMS
First off, let’s make it clear that even though all eCommerce CMSs are aimed at providing you with an opportunity to manage your website content, it doesn’t mean that they will perform instant miracles for your future online shop. You will have to reflect on your business’s requirements and specifications and only then get down to choosing a suitable CMS. Below are the criteria to take into consideration when comparing and evaluating Content Management Systems:
- Type of platform. This factor is crucial and you need to give it a lot of thought. You might want your future CMS provider to take care of all procedures ranging from installation to updates and maintenance, or you might prefer to have the software installed on your own or your hosting provider’s servers and deal with infrastructure upgrades yourself.
- Number of plugins and apps. To enhance the user interface and unleash the full capacity of your CMS, it’s recommended to install some of the plugins and add-ons that come with the CMS. Each CMS supplies its own plugins, the number of which can range from ten to thousands.
- Features. For the most part, the features of all eCommerce platforms are identical. Still, each CMS can offer original features that make it stand out amongst the others and help you address various issues, which might arise in the process. Focus on those, which you think will be most useful and beneficial to your e-business.
- Price. Ye$, money makes a difference. Pricing can vary depending on many factors, but let’s remind ourselves of the old wisdom that the most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean the best. Gather all the details about the open source eCommerce platform you want, and decide if all the functions that it offers are worth paying money for.
- Support parameters. Make sure the support service will be able to help you resolve technical glitches. Countless issues may arise and require professional assistance. Check out the CMS support ratings and user reviews, and draw your own conclusions.
- What businesses will benefit from it? Different CMSs cater to different businesses. Some may be cut out for medium-sized enterprises but not be able to satisfy the demands of large ones. That’s why it’s better to know the details about this aspect in advance.
- Famous clients. It’s surely the case when you see that a particular CMS is used by a globally renowned company, you’re likely to set your sights on it as well. This trait is instilled in all of us, really, and in most cases, we cannot resist it. It’s also true, though, that analyzing a list of CMS users is a weighty task, so we’ve decided to include it in our list as well.
- Is this eCommerce CMS SEO-friendly? When it comes to this factor, you’d better be as picky as possible. These days it’s just inconceivable not to consider SEO when choosing the best CMS solution. Of course, you want your e-business to appear among Google’s top 10. To make this a reality, you’re advised to take great care of all your SEO requirements and verify that the CMS chosen will be capable of meeting them.
In this article, we will provide a detailed description of the 17 content management systems.
Ready-made or custom CMS: which one to choose?
You might think that it’s extremely difficult to find a CMS that fits all the criteria mentioned above. OK, let’s be honest: such an eCommerce platform doesn’t actually exist. Like in the Elton John song, you’ll have to sacrifice something.
Well, how to define which factors are less significant? Good support, reasonable price, numerous features, and so on: they all seem so weighty and undowithoutable!
Don’t worry, there’s a way out.
If you want a CMS that offers you more flexibility, adaptability, and scalability, it makes sense to consider a custom eCommerce platform.
Some businesses are likely to gain more benefits from custom e-store development, as initially, they have an opportunity to state the requirements and functions that they want their eCommerce platform to perform.
We’ve made a comparison between two CMSs – Shopify and Magento – and a custom eCommerce platform. Take a look and decide which option will be the most suitable for your business.
The best eCommerce CMSs in detail
There is a plethora of CMSs on the market, which makes it extremely difficult to choose the right one. We’ve done our homework and compiled a list of the best eCommerce CMSs considering all the pros and cons. Let’s get started!
Released to the public in 2001, 3dcart is a cloud-based eCommerce app that serves around 22.000 online shops worldwide. Its interface is regarded as one of the most straightforward and the CMS itself is easy to install, which means that you don’t have to be a developer to adjust the platform to your design and requirements. 3dcart offers 200 themes to choose from, 60 of which are free. As for SEO, it’s judged on its merits and has been described by many users as ‘comprehensive, efficient, and easy to use’.
The most impressive thing about this eCommerce platform is that it keeps evolving and improving all the time. Thus, even issues that troubled its users a year ago may already have been eliminated.
Another advantage is that 3dcart abounds in a myriad of features – you can install whatever you like. But there’s a drawback – you’ll have to pay for them. This may discourage some users, as in order to unleash the potential of the CMS and use it to its full extent, they’re obliged to obtain a large number of add-ons.
It must be noted that 3dcart’s support rates are relatively low, even though they provide support via phone and chat 24/7.
There have also been some complaints about dated templates and a few potential issues with upgrading speed. However, given that 3dcart is continuously enhanced, hopefully, this problem will soon be fixed.
BigCommerce is a renowned SaaS eCommerce platform. It can boast great scalability and multichannel integration and has been implemented by 55.000 online shops around the globe. This platform is celebrated among both large and small stores, being especially popular with such industries as fashion & apparel, health & beauty, food & beverage, manufacturing, and automotive. It offers 70 payment gateways and 140 themes, 7 of those free of charge. A set of built-in marketing tools allows you to promote your products with great SEO capabilities into the bargain.
But for every plus there’s a minus. High-volume stores dislike the fact that they are obliged to pay more for the platform. Besides, BigCommerce has an inconsistent loading speed, which might hinder web performance.
Created in Russia, CS-Cart is a PHP shopping cart platform that operates on a MySQL database management system and has a thousand authorized web studios worldwide. This platform integrates with popular delivery, payment services, warehouse, and many other business apps.
CS-Cart has open source code, which enables you to adjust the CMS to all your business processes, develop special functions, add new integration options, change the design, and so on. This eCommerce CMS also provides a promotion system and in-built content manager, which is why it’s regarded as one of the best blog CMSs.
However, you may find it a bit hard to adapt the platform to your requirements. Many users have complained about the complicated and sometimes confusing overall UX. The lack of a decent support service proves to be a challenge as well; from time to time it can be inconsistent and irregular.
Joomla is often considered the second most acclaimed open source eCommerce solution after WordPress. Its major benefits are scalability and its various customization possibilities. There’s one more aspect that explains Joomla’s popularity – it supports 76 languages.
Apart from that, Joomla is able to provide its users with magnificent content management capabilities. There are lots of options on offer in this segment, making this CMS one of the best on the market so far. Also, Joomla’s native SEO keeps enhancing all the time. Once it used to be… well, not perfect, let’s say. Now it’s top-ranked and has gained a lot of positive feedback.
That’s not all. There’s another significant advantage, which may cover all the cons for some people. Ready? Joomla is 100% free! You’re supposed to pay for domain and hosting only.
Now let’s add a spoonful of tar into a barrel of honey: Joomla doesn’t provide eCommerce performance capabilities such as product or inventory management.
What’s more, some users might find Joomla quite complex and experience difficulties incorporating their own custom design. As a result, they have to resort to the services of developers. Joomla also has compatibility issues when it comes to installing various modules, extensions, and plugins at the same time.
Magento is a sophisticated open source eCommerce platform with more than 375.000 developers in its global community. It offers a high security level, tremendous scalability, in-built online analytics, and multilingual capability. In addition, as can be viewed in our comparison table, it possesses great SEO functionality. And it can easily integrate with third-party extensions.
Magento’s feature-rich offer enables its users to perform any operation they want. The platform is suitable for such industries as beauty & cosmetics, consumer electronics, fashion & apparel, food & beverage, home furnishing, and sporting goods.
It does, however, require high server performance. What’s more, you’ll have to shell out for themes and technical maintenance. And if you don’t possess coding skills – really sorry to admit this but Magento can fray your nerves. As a result, it’ll be a lengthy process before your store is up and running.
osCommerce was one of the first eCommerce platforms. It’s well-received, provides decent online support (both expert and community), and is considered one of the most cost-effective e-solutions. Although the choice of themes is limited on the official website, you can obtain additional themes at third-party marketplaces like ThemeForest.
In case, you’re in the process of setting up your first e-store, osCommerce may be the best option for you: it’s easy and quick to install and allows you to ‘learn the ropes’ of eCommerce CMSs.
As for scalability, it’s not the most suitable CMS for sure and it needs more technical maintenance in comparison with other platforms. What’s more, the code in osCommerce may be prone to errors and breakages, which entails hiring a developer on an ongoing basis.
OpenCart is an open source shopping cart solution that doesn’t charge any fees for upgrades and maintenance. It’s perfect for startups as it facilitates a cost-effective and easy store setup. The platform possesses impressive scalability and high security levels and easily integrates with more than 20 payment gateways and 8 shipping methods.
It can’t, however, claim to provide satisfactory support services to its users. Another drawback is that OpenCart doesn’t furnish you with as many customization possibilities as other open source eCommerce CMSs. And despite the fact that it’s free to download, you’ll have to purchase many costly add-ons to ensure that your online store runs properly. Bear in mind that sometimes different installations won’t be able to interact properly with each other. This may lead to you compromising on UX, which is inadvisable.
Prestashop was released in 2007 and since then has been described as a user-friendly eCommerce platform. It provides a large number of opportunities, among which is the ability to run multiple stores. According to the statistics, more than 300.000 online stores globally run on this platform.
It’s adept at integrating with courier delivery, payment gateways, accountancy, warehouses, ERP, etc. Another advantage is that PrestaShop tools you up with a beautiful interface for creating websites along with multi-currency and multilingual capabilities.
As for the disadvantages of this CMS, it must be pointed out that scalability is limited, so it’s unlikely that big businesses will take it up. Furthermore, some extensions cost a pretty penny.
Demandware Salesforce is a cloud-based CMS that empowers its users to build web stores. Given that it’s flexible and multifunctional, it’s widely used as an efficient B2B and B2C tool. It’s especially well-liked among companies engaged in beauty & cosmetics, fashion & apparel, sporting goods, toys & games, food & beverage, cars & automotive, parts & manufacturing, and chemicals.
In terms of integration, Demandware can be merged with various Salesforce products. Thus, you’ll be able to improve your website’s performance with the help of AI personalization, distributed order management, and a top-rated CRM.
Nonetheless, merging stores with other solutions can be a tall order. And Demandware CMS isn’t that trustworthy when it comes to handling the same speed once API has been implemented.
Shop-Script is an easy-to-use PHP shopping cart platform that contributes to the creation of online shops. It supports integration with other Webasyst-based apps.
The CMS comes with fully open source code and can be downloaded and installed free of charge. Its unique features are order management from a phone and map placement.
Those who are keen to apply this CMS may be a bit discouraged by the fact that developer skills will be needed in order to regulate different technical processes.
Shopify is an outstanding SaaS-hosted CMS with a simple interface. One of its most evident advantages is free and smooth integration with eBay and Amazon without needing user code. Plus, it can be merged with 100 payment gateways.
Shopify is number one, even amongst the best of all the hosting leaders. More than 75.000 online shops run on this CMS and more than 1.000.000 companies worldwide trust it. Shopify is valued in such industries as beauty & cosmetics, consumer electronics, fashion & apparel, food & beverage, and home furnishing.
Another outstanding feature is that Shopify has many marvelous responsive designs on offer. If you don’t happen to find a theme to your liking among their 170, don’t panic: you’re free to create your own or buy one. Another piece of good news: their support service is available 24/7.
The disadvantage, however, is that this customization is only possible in Shopify Plus. And if this platform appeals to you, be aware in advance that shipping is only provided across the USA and Canada. Besides, some Shopify users admit that its multi-currency selling features could be enhanced.
Squarespace aims to help its users develop websites from scratch. More than 130.000 websites globally benefit from this eCommerce platform. You won’t have to install any software or buy hosting as Squarespace is a cloud service. It’s viewed as a great tool for creating simple online shops with stunning designs. It also integrates with ShipStation and ShipBob.
A really striking feature is that it already has built-in plugins, widgets, and analytics for your website.
However, its SEO leaves much to be desired. The platform also lacks advanced marketing tools, and where they do exist they require a lot of workarounds, as some users share.
Ubercart is a widely used eCommerce platform which is a perfect match for small businesses, as it’s not hard to install and maintain. There’s also a special forum devoted to dealing with support issues, where you’ll be able to find almost all the answers to the most frequent questions.
This CMS provides such payment gateways as CyberSource, Authorize.net, and PayPal along with shipping options like UPS and FedEx. It’s fully integrated with Drupal Modules, which enables you to bring online shops together with the rest of the website and online community.
As with any other eCommerce platform, drawbacks are unavoidable. Since each SKU isn’t designated, errors in weight calculations are possible, and consequently, this will lead to incorrect shipping values. What’s more, the templates provided cannot be customized.
Created in 1999, Volusion is considered one of the first eCommerce platforms. Today more than 30.000 online businesses run on Volusion. The platform is easy to use and there are several helpful tools and customization features at your disposal. It’s reckoned to be a nice option in a number of industries such as beauty & cosmetics, consumer electronics, fashion & apparel, food & beverage, home furnishing, and sporting goods.
Volusion permits third-party payment integration and provides smooth operation with graphics and data. It possesses great flexibility with Sitemaps, a well-laid-out dashboard, and clear inventory and marketing systems.
On the downside, the CMS lacks cross-selling features and is often referred to as one of the slowest SaaS platforms.
On top of that, some users have faced difficulties with understanding how to utilize the platform. Limited integration options along with outdated features may also discourage some potential users.
Wix is a flexible cloud-based eCommerce platform that allows you to design a site without coding. Wix provides various payment gateways along with secure payment support. In addition, the platform offers many amazing themes for free.
Another advantage is that you get secure web hosting, constant customer support, and automatic mobile optimization. Wix has also been praised for its adaptable and convenient UI.
As for the cons, Wix has no marketing and integration features. Scalability is poor and there’s no pending or abandoned cart mechanism. Its SEO is a weak point as well, making it a bit unsuitable for professional businesses.
Weebly is a convenient eCommerce platform for small businesses that supplies you with all the basic tools needed to create a website and/or an online store. Weebly’s themes are uncomplicated, sophisticated, and mobile responsive, and all its email tools are extremely powerful. It may seem especially appealing in terms of money – the lowest price for eCommerce marketing automation.
The cons, however, are that there’s no ADI option and SEO features are limited. Moreover, if you want more customization control over your website, Weebly is definitely not the best option.
Some users may find it a bit strange, but Weebly’s support varies depending on your subscription plan: the more expensive, the more professional and in-depth the support will be.
Released in 2011, WooCommerce has been growing by leaps and bounds and gaining massive popularity among top brands. It’s an open source platform, a WordPress plugin to be exact. Currently, more than 3.000.000 websites run on WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is especially appreciated and utilized in the following industries: beauty & cosmetics, consumer electronics, fashion & apparel, food & beverage, home furnishing.
The platform is considered to be the best choice for SEO among all its competitors and is abundant with marketing options. It’s highly customizable, and whenever you need assistance or advice there are plenty of experts available.
The platform still has its drawbacks. Scalability and security levels leave much to be desired. Hosting can be expensive, even though the platform itself is free to download. Furthermore, WooCommerce requires many extensions to be installed to unleash its full capacity.
To recap, let’s state that a number of criteria should be taken into account when deciding on the best CMS for your business. Customization, SEO functionality, shipping, payment gateways, support are just some of them.
As you might have noticed, there are no such eCommerce platforms that would tick all the boxes. The good news, however, is that they’re being improved, and their developers are working hard to deliver eСommerce solutions that would conform to all parameters. In case you know exactly what kind of platform your business needs but none of the CMSs seems to suit you, you can always turn to a web development company and create your own eCommerce platform.
For now, let’s hope that the aspects outlined in this article and the comparison chart will prove useful, and you’ll manage to find an appropriate CMS for your business. Best of luck!
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