You want to create an e-commerce business but you feel that you lack the necessary technical skills to build your website? You could of course hire a developer to design it from scratch, but this is going to be very expensive and maybe useless, since nowadays, there are plenty of solutions to help get your e-commerce journey started. The best one is using a CMS.
Just as the name suggests, a content management system is a web application or software that enables you to create, edit and control online content. It allows you to manage your website’s content without having any technical skills.
Using a CMS can be both time and cost effective compared to more traditional methods such as building your website from scratch (by code) or hiring a developer to do it.
A CMS has a simple interface and is easy to use. It provides beautiful templates, pre-developed features, plugins and integrations. It is accessible to everyone, and even your toddler brother can create his diaper business with a CMS (it's maybe a bit more complicated than that, but not too much)
Even if CMS has some limitations in regards to the customization process of your website, there are many agencies and experts who work on CMS and can help you design the solutions that you miss. Taskhusky, for example, is an affordable service that helps you create features that don’t originally exist on Shopify. It can upgrade your themes, make your website’s review, optimize your website’s speed or your store setups.
There are many CMS out there and it may be a real struggle to pick one. Many people ask what the best one is, well the tricky part is that there’s no best one. It all depends on your activity, goals and marketing.
To help you decide which CMS is the right one for you, we’ve prepared a list of the top CMS platforms with their pros and cons:
Shopify is the most used CMS worldwide with more than 800 000 businesses using it. It is definitely the one of the best website builders with tons of integrations. So if you plan on selling your products on your website or on other channels such as social media (ex: Facebook, Instagram) or marketplaces (ex: Amazon or eBay), Shopify is what you need. It enables you connect to a wide range of services that can enhance your customers’ experience (Bigblue integrates natively to Shopify for instance). It is used by many big brands such as: Budweiser or Tesla Motors.
Tons of integrations, plugins and features (it offers more than 1200 apps)
Easy to use and set up
Great inventory system to manage your stocks
Support 24/7 phone and live chat support.
Poor URL structures which lead to poor SEO rankings.
You’ll have to pay subscription plan plus a commission on your sales (from 0.5 to 2%)
Basic Shopify: 29 per month - 2% transaction fees
Shopify: 79 per month - 1% transaction fees
Advanced Shopify: 299 per month - 0,5 transaction fees
Prestashop is open source and completely free to download and use, but (yes there’s always a but) you’ll end up paying for hosting, domain names and other modules to integrate to your website. Prestashop also offers a new hosted version called PrestaShop ready.
Many apps and integration
More than 1000 modules and themes
Very strong community of experts
The basic version is available in 25 languages
Poor free version which pushes you to buy many modules and integrations. You’ll end up paying even more than the hosted version (Prestashop Ready)
Need for technical knowledge or a developer’s intervention at some point.
No multichannel selling.
Prestashop is open source and thus free. Costs depend on your needs of modules, features and integration.
Prestashop Ready offers 3 packages:
Start package: 19,90$ per month billed annually (24,90$ month to month). From 0 to 3000$ of turnover, you’ll have 0% of transaction fees. Above 3000$, you’ll have 1,5% of transaction fees.
Pro package: coming soon, no information is available now.
Premium package: coming soon, no information is available now.
WooCommerce is the e-commerce plugin for WordPress, so if you already have a website with Wordpress and you want to step into e-commerce, Woocommerce is the perfect solution. It is the best platform to run both e-commerce and affiliate website under one roof.
Plenty of integration and marketing features
Large community of WordPress experts to help you
Lack of support
Scalability, the platform slows down as your customers and products grow.
The Woocommerce plugin is free so the costs depend on the integration, modules and features you need for your business.
BigCommerce provides a solid product search engine which is perfect for large stores or small businesses that are looking for high scalability. Many big brands use BigCommerce to manage their website: Toyota, Ben & Jerry’s or Gibson Guitars.
Flexibility and high scalability (you can add as many product variables as you want)
No transaction fees
Strong SEO features (you can customize URL, meta descriptions, titles tags)
Automatic upgrade if your sales exceed your annual plan’s limit
No 1 click selling upsells
No multilingual feature which means that you’ll need to do it with code.
Standard package: 29,95$ per month
Plus package: 71,95$ per month billed annually (79,95$ month to month)
Pro package: 224,95$ billed annually (249,95$ month to month)
Squarespace offers the opportunity to sell physical products, digital ones or services. Which makes it perfect for bloggers and freelancers. Being used extensively by photographers and artists looking for minimalistic design, many people debate whether it is suitable for a proper e-commerce website. Well, it is; Squarespace does not only offer great templates, but also a fully integrated set of tools.
Solid SEO tools
Very easy to use
Good blog integration
No transaction fees
No drop shipping
No app store
No amazon integration
Basic plan: 24$ per month billed annually (28$ month to month)
Advanced: 36$ per month billed annually (42$ month to monthh)
Magento offers a powerful e-commerce builder for people with a coding background or with the necessary budget to hire a developer. Magento is robust, customizable and highly powerful. Many large brands such as Nike or Procter & Gamble use Magento.
Tons of features (multiple stores, locations, languages, pricing and currencies)
1 click selling
Requires coding skills
Variable costs not know in advance
Poor customer support
Magento is open source so it is free. There is no pricing information on their website for the advanced packages. The invoice is sent after Magento’s team analyzes your needs.
Wix Ecommerce is the e-commerce plug in of Wix. Its simple drag and drop interface makes it the best solution for beginners who want to design a stylish e-commerce website without having the necessary skills. There 72 beautiful free themes to choose from. Due to its lack of marketing integrations, I would not recommend it for owners who expect a huge growth.
72 free themes
Beautiful templates and designs
Easy to use (simple drag and drop interface)
Great customer support
No transaction fees
Very poor SEO due to their previous websites architecture which were designed in flash (too nerdy to go more into details)
Very few marketing integration
Impossible to export data (products, content, designs etc.) from your wix website, so if you wanna change platforms.
Business basic: 16,50$ per month billed annually (21$ per month)
Business unlimited: 25$ per month billed annually (30$ per month)
Business VIP: 35$ per month billed annually (40$ per month)
Volusion was founded in 1999 and is one of the oldest e-commerce solution providers. It is a good solution if you don’t know from where to start at all, as the platform offers a really good onboard and beginner support. Volusion has hundreds of learning materials on how to build your e-commerce website step by step. It also offers the opportunity to sell of Google, eBay, Amazon and social media.
Great on boarding and help center
Suitable for small and medium businesses.
Well laid out dashboard
Tons of features
No transaction fees
Poor URL structure which leads to poor SEO
No blog integration
Slow loading time
Personal: 26$ per month billed annually (29$ per month)
Professional: 71$ per month billed annually (79$ per month)
Business: 269$ per month billed annually (299$ per month)
Webflow Ecommerce is the e-commerce solution of webflow (that’s what we use at Bigblue for our commercial website, it's great). It is a solution that merges code free design and ease of use. It offers a lot of flexibility and freedom in the customization process of your website. The platform also provides the possibility to create your own blog with e-commerce functionalities (you can include product listing into your blogs). Webflow Ecommerce integrates all of Webflow’s features.
Flexible drag and drop interface
Ease of use
Many guidelines on all the e-commerce functionalities
SEO Friendly and many SEO features
Impossible to access code since Webflow is a visual CMS
Launched officially on February 2019, so the platform is still in development.
Standard: 29$ per month billed annually (42$ month to month) - 2% transaction fees
Plus: 74$ per month billed annually (84$ month to month) - 0% transaction fees
Advanced: 212$ per month billed annually (235$ month to month) - 0% transaction fees
Now that you have our pros and cons, here are some suggestions on which CMS you should use depending on your activity, your size or your goal.
Best platforms for small businesses willing for fast growth: Bigcommerce, Magento.
Best platforms for multichannel selling: Shopify, Bigcommerce.
Best platforms for SEO attraction: Webflow, Bigcommerce.
Best platforms for artists and freelancers: Squarespace, Wix Ecommerce.
Based on this comparison, which platform do you think is best for your e-commerce website? Which one are using and how do you like it so far ?