Today we’re here with Jason Caruso and we’re going to be talking about choosing an eCommerce platform. Jason has been in the eCommerce base for a long time now so he’s had experience in most of these platforms.
There are tons of options you’re going to come across even when you sign up for your domain. When you sign up for a domain you’re going to get a lot of options (GoDaddy, website builder, etc) and they are going to try to upsell you beyond belief. We don’t recommend this. These are domain companies so don’t let them build your website or you’ll end up getting stuck there with no help. Plus, nine times out of ten they aren’t really offering you an eCommerce website.
Benefits of the marketplace: If you’re selling a product that you know sells on those platforms then start there. They already have an audience. They already have people coming to those marketplaces. You can buy some advertising and you can get in front of people very quickly and validate your product.
Downside to the marketplace: The problem with the marketplaces is you’re very limited in what you can do. You can put up an image, you can put up a price, you can put up your product but if you have a lot of variation or options you’re going to have a hard time doing that on Etsy, Amazon, eBay type marketplaces.
Hosted: Platforms like Shopify are really hosting companies that happen to have an eCommerce platform built in. They have all the themes and apps in one development area. You can’t break anything because the core files are never touched. It’s a smoother process with less problems. There aren’t as many updates or as many compatibility issues.
Self Hosted: When you don’t use a hosted platform you use your own host, get your own server and get your own software. Examples of this would be WooCommerce, WordPress and Zen cart. It’s customizable so you can pretty much do what you want if you have the right person to handle it. Usually, the costs are very fixed. You get the server for a year and WooCommerce is free but there are some costs involved if you want to take payments. The downside to having all that control is everything is manual so you have to do all the updates yourself and that’s tricky.
Custom Cart: This is another option but it’s very expensive. A custom solution is built for you from the ground up and it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars for an option like that. At that point, you’re almost at the position where you need your own in-house development team for support because there’s no one else to call.
To wrap up, they are both good options. Whether you go to a self-contained, self-hosted platform like Shopify or if you go with a WooCommerce type of solution you have to evaluate what you need the platform to do, what you’re selling and how it needs to be presented. When you get all that stuff worked out then you can decide where to go, before that you’re just going to be making a guess. You really have to determine what you need, why you need it, and then you choose where to go. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of them.