In the past decade, global eCommerce sales grew from $572 billion to a whopping $3.5 trillion. During this period, the eCommerce industry was not only able to proliferate at a rapid rate but also effect a fundamental change in the mindset of entrepreneurs, who suddenly felt an urgent need to create their online presence in a bid to compete with their emerging eCommerce rivals. However, this wasn’t the only way the eCommerce industry motivated business owners to launch their eCommerce sites. It offered them an immediate expansion in reach, the ability to conduct business operations without a physical outlet and digitized administration to simplify erratic business operations.
In this article, we have laid emphasis on the best eCommerce platforms of 2021 to provide business owners reach, digitization and simplified administration of online business operations. Keep reading to know our selections.
When a digital landscape of thousands of eCommerce businesses materialized, it paved the way for the gradual inception of several ecommerce shopping trends like the credit card culture, cash on delivery, try and buy and so on. These trends underwent further changes in the unprecedented times of COVID-19, when the world had no other option but to order essential and non-essential items online. Both consumers and eCommerce businesses adopted innovative practices and gave rise to the following new trends that will influence the industry for a while.
Contactless delivery was the need of the hour during the pandemic and was hugely appreciated. MNCs like Dominoes, Uber Eats, and InstaCart utilized contactless delivery to recover and boost their sales. BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store) also accelerated in the last decade for introducing local touchpoints for product inspection and eliminating the delivery process. According to Adobe Consumer Survey, 30% consumers preferred BOPIS over waiting for the product to be shipped. This alone surged the global BOPIS year-over-year delivery amount by 259% in August 2020.
The longitudinal penetration of smartphones and advanced mobile technology facilitated the growth of mCommerce. According to Statista, the mCommerce share in the global eCommerce market is projected to grow up to 72.9% in 2021. Various mCommerce trends, like chatbots, voice search, and social media are also on a rise at a rapid pace.
In an interaction with a general consumer, the global consultant leader, BCG, found out that consumers are conscious of brands collecting their information. As a result, consumers expect brands to provide them with a personalized experience in return. They prefer brands to augment the entire shopping experience with tailored UI elements, analyze the shopping history to improvise product recommendations, and save their preferred payment options. This is where personalized shopping unfolds. It refers to the process of utilizing consumer preferences to customize the user experience in a retail or eCommerce environment. One example of personalized shopping is Instagram’s shoppable posts that change according to analysed user behaviour and preferences.
Digital currency is fast, safe, easier to manage, and enables contactless transactions. However, it is also characterized by its various facets like virtual currency, eWallets, credit cards, and debit cards with consumers having different preferences for each of them. To make the best use of these digital currencies and sate the varied consumer preferences, it has become important for eCommerce stores to provide multiple payment options.
In the beginning of the past decade, the eCommerce industry was not able to deliver a fully satisfying customer experience. Trust issues and risk-aversion kept masses uninvolved in eCommerce activities.
With omnichannel sales experience, people were not only able to shop products both online and in the brand’s local outlets, but also inspect them before buying and making real-time payments.
The aforementioned trends shaped the modern eCommerce solutions to help business owners launch successful eCommerce websites. While multiple payment options, BOPIS and omnichannel sales experience reduce the cart abandonment rate and improve customer retention, personalized shopping experience and mCommerce increase the reach of eCommerce brands across borders and reduce visitor bounce rate.
In the past few years, the demand for both standalone eCommerce stores and multi-vendor marketplaces have increased and thus we have enlisted the best eCommerce solutions into two categories.
Online marketplaces are those eCommerce sites that allow third-party vendors to register and sell or rent products and services. In an online marketplace, the admin earns via commission (which is the primary revenue channel) and enjoys additional revenue streams like paid listings and monthly subscriptions.
Yo!Kart is an industry-leading eCommerce marketplace software that is developed using agile methodologies to power highly-scalable multi-vendor stores. Unlike the traditional open-source and SaaS methods, Yo!Kart is a readymade solution that comes with a wide set of options for order management, vendor management, and catalogue management. Moreover, the solution is fully customizable and allows for numerous third-party integrations, modules, features, and interfaces addition. Due to the scalability and feature-rich design of Yo!Kart, it proves to be a highly practical solution for entrepreneurs looking to enter new industries and markets in the eCommerce domain.
To simplify and streamline the entire marketplace business process, Yo!Kart offers feature-packed admin and vendor modules that enable effortless marketplace/storefront management.
Yo!Kart also comes with native and progressive web apps to enhance the overall mCommerce experience for the end-users.
Businesses of all sizes
Yo!Kart Rating on G2.com: 4.8
Growcer is a fully customizable hyperlocal marketplace software that was originally developed to help small grocery store owners undergo a complete digital transformation to compete with online sellers. However, it is compatible with several other hyperlocal business ideas like online liquor delivery marketplace, funeral products marketplace, and ePharmacy marketplace. Along with developing marketplaces, Growcer supports the functionality to launch standalone single-vendor sites with advanced geo-fencing and localization settings.
Dedicated to promote hyperlocal eCommerce businesses, Growcer automates several essential business processes such as the billing, reporting, sending push notifications and commission deduction. To streamline the delivery process for the business owner, Growcer comes with a delivery management app with features like routing, calling and order catalogue management. To reduce the workload on vendors in a marketplace, Growcer provides delivery time slots creation, which gives vendors the time for resource gathering and simplifies the business model.
Free demos for Growcer are available on its official website.
Small to midsize hyperlocal delivery businesses
Growcer rating on G2.com: 4.5
CS-Cart is an eCommerce marketplace solution that you can use to develop robust online marketplaces with efficient checkout and cart processing systems. The team of CS-Cart claims it to be the eCommerce solution with maximum features, which span from vendor management, product management and payment options to statistical reporting and debt management. CS-Cart is inclusive of in-built page design features that help you curate pixel-perfect web pages. As the software is developed on open-source technologies like PHP and MySQL, it is easy to scale it to your business requirements (for scaling purposes, extensive developer support is widely available).
After integrating CS-Cart on your website, there are dozens of add-ons on offer that you can use to customize your marketplace without the need of explicit programming. The company also guarantees 4 big updates per year on an average to help its clients catch up with the changing trends. There’s also a free 15-days trial of CS-Cart that one can opt to test the software.
Small to mid-size businesses
CS-Cart rating on G2.com: 4.8
Yo!Rent is a rental marketplace software that supports both renting and selling operations. It is developed by the same team as Yo!Kart for entrepreneurs wanting to enter industries with high renting demands such as luxury clothing, furniture, construction equipment, recreation vehicles, boats and party equipment. Yo!Rent comes with an advanced booking calendar that assists the renters in the management of the delivery timeline. Supporting a wide range of revenue channels, Yo!Rent is also the marketplace software with the maximum number of revenue generation streams in our list.
Yo!Rent is a readymade solution and now also available in the single-vendor variant. Like Yo!Kart, it provides multiple user-type interfaces (admin, renter and rentee) to assist the marketplace owner in business management. Along with compatibility with B2C and B2B business verticals, Yo!Rent is further suitable for launching online peer-to-peer marketplaces.
Businesses of all sizes
YoRent rating on G2.com: 4.5
Unlike other marketplace solutions, ShareTribe is a software that is designed to support your online marketplace at every stage of your business lifecycle. You can use the software to launch your multi-vendor business and get expert support for growth and expansion. ShareTribe is available in two different variants that are:
While Sharetribe Go is suitable for entrepreneurs wanting to launch an online marketplace as soon as possible, ShareTribe Flex is more preferable to those wanting customizations and unique functionality.
ShareTribe comes with a recurrent billing model charged on a monthly basis. Moreover, varying transaction fees is also levied on the owner, which is calculated on monthly total sales volume. Interested entrepreneurs can opt for a free 30-days trial of ShareTribe before purchasing the software.
Startups or entrepreneurs wanting to launch an eCommerce business ASAP
ShareTribe rating on G2.com: 3.2
Below are the solutions that you can use to develop robust single-store eCommerce websites:
Shopify is a SaaS-based solution that helps solopreneurs and SMBs launch an eCommerce store from any part of the world. It is available in three different packages to cater to the varied needs of business owners. The 24/7 customer care support provided by the company also makes it a great eCommerce solution for entrepreneurs with little to no programming experience.
To gauge the solution for your business needs, you may opt for Shopify’s 14-days free trial. Once you sign up, you will get the option of 9 free and 64 paid themes. Additionally,s, you can also add free and paid apps to customize your online store. The only downside to selling products on a Shopify-powered eCommerce store is the transaction fee that increases the overall monthly subscription costs, however, it is only applicable when you process payments via a third party.
Solopreuners, Startups and SMBs
Shopify rating on G2.com: 4.3
BigCommerce is an eCommerce solution that aims to redefine eCommerce with the flexibility of SaaS subscriptions. It is one of the best eCommerce solutions around the world that explicitly focuses on catering to the aggregate demands of well-established businesses. Another aspect of eCommerce on which the company focuses is disruptive innovation. BigCommerce wants to help businesses turn far-fetched eCommerce experiences into reality with its scalable software.
On signing-up with BigCommerce’s 15-days free trial, you get the choice of 12 free themes and the option to select your subscription package after the end of the trial. Till then, you can access almost all features of BigCommerce, including those that are only available in specific plans. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce does not charge its clients any transaction fee.
BigCommerce rating on G2.com: 4.2
Tribe is a self-hosted eCommerce store solution that is developed on the Laravel framework. Tribe came into being with the aim to assist small business owners and local retailers in establishing an online mode of business.
Tribe was developed in the heat of the pandemic to help small retailers recover and cope with the economic stagnation. According to Deloitte, the COVID-19 recession was due to a sudden pause in the consumer activity, whereas all previous ones were due to various reasons like overexpansion of credit, underpricing of risks or bursting of stock market bubbles. With people under strict lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus, there was a sudden spike in eCommerce activity. In this scenario, the need for offline retailers to go digital was quite evident. To help these retailers go online, Tribe came out as an efficient self-hosted and almost zero cost solution.
Small Businesses and Local Retailers
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that enables entrepreneurs to create a fully customizable eCommerce store on a WordPress domain. With the help of this solution, website owners using WordPress as their CMS can also convert their existing website into an eCommerce store.
WooCommerce is available in two variants:
Alongside the open-source solution that can be used to develop varied eCommerce stores, the SaaS version is specifically designed to launch stores that sell products on a subscription basis. For the SaaS version, owners are also required to pay an annual price, which comes with a 30-days money-back policy.
For both the open-source and SaaS variants, WooCommerce has a dedicated marketplace with hundreds of extensions for customizations. Although your WooCommerce variant might be open-source and free of cost, you’d still be required to pay for the paid extensions, some of which are also available with recurrent payment. Also, there are only three free themes available on WooCommerce and the rest are paid.
PCI Compliance can be added via extensions
Solopreuners, startups and SMBs
WooCommerce rating on G2.com: 4.3
Magento is the other open-source solution in our list that comes with drag and drop customization. It has been owned by several companies in the past and in 2018, became a product of Adobe Inc. that is renowned for its graphic software solutions. After obtaining Magento, Adobe concentrated on the paid version of the software known as Magento Commerce (Magento Enterprise Edition earlier), whose pricing is inclusive of technical support and development. Magento Commerce also comes with Progressive Web Apps to deliver a mobile-friendly user-experience and then we have its cloud version that is developed on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure.
With all these software applications and next gen technology, Magento aims at creating engaging eCommerce experiences. Along with the company, third-party developers and organizations also work on Magento extensions and themes, some of which are openly available on the internet for free.
Both mid and large size businesses
Magento rating on G2.com: 3.9
While it’s evident that no single eCommerce solution is cut out for all business ideas, each of them is superior to one another in terms of features, functionality, security or available customer support. If we keep the technical expertise, turnaround time and cost-effectiveness in mind, readymade solutions like Yo!Kart and Growcer are highly recommended marketplace options for entrepreneurs with little to no technical programming experience. They are also easy and quick to set up.
Open-source solutions are best fit for entrepreneurs who know how to code or can hire a team of developers for eCommerce development. However, unlike traditional open-source systems, both Tribe and Magento support drag-and-drop customizations, which makes them suitable for people with no programming experience.
SaaS solutions on the other hand come with recurrent costs, which means though small businesses and startups can buy them at a little cost, they are not so cost-effective in the long run. That too, excluding the transaction fees that increases the SaaS monthly package costs, making them suitable for eCommerce businesses in their experimental run and well-established businesses with large budgets.
In the end, you can go with the solution that best fulfills your requirements and falls in your budget without compromising on your desired functionality. In case, you get stuck between two solutions, go with the one with better security and support options.
The first step in your approach should be to define your business requirements. Once defined, you can search various eCommerce platforms that match the requirements. In the second step, you can contact the sales teams of respective eCommerce platforms to set up demos and clear any doubts. Lastly, you can filter your selection based on the provided customer support, available reviews and budget limitations.
SaaS based solutions might seem affordable at first, but they are not cost effective in the long run. This is because of various reasons:
Some single-vendor platforms also support the functionality to develop a multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace. However, they are not specifically developed for marketplace operations and may lack in some areas (such as extensive features for handling multiple vendors) when compared to marketplace solutions.
There are no specific disadvantages of migrating to a different eCommerce platform. With the right support team, the migration can be completed in a very less time.
We have made the list after evaluating renowned eCommerce platforms as per the aforementioned selection criteria. However, it is not possible to call any solution the absolute best. This is because every eCommerce platform has different advantages and disadvantages in relation to the varying requirements of every business.
You can visit Capterra, G2, Clutch, TrustPilot, Goodfirms and SoftwareSuggest to view the genuine reviews of eCommerce platforms. All these review sites are highly renowned for the authenticity of their reviews.
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