It is important to establish what is most important to you and your business. For example do you want to focus on email marketing or other areas such as the smartphone and tablet sector? Here’s an overview of a few platforms that you could use to help grow your business.
Magento is a major open source ecommerce platform, with clients such as Nike and Olympus amongst those who use the platform for their online stores. The Community Edition is free but it is often best left to developers to use to really get the most from it. The Enterprise Edition is very powerful and full of fantastic features but is naturally more expensive. If you are not a web developer yourself, hiring a web developer to build a shop using Community Edition is your best option.
Oscommerce powers over 220,000 online stores and is very easy to set up and use. Ideal for non developers it has proven to be very popular with small business owners. However because it is so easy to use it can be hard to differentiate your site from others utilising the same theme. Oscommerce has also been known to have coding vulnerabilities and some stores have been attacked by hackers.
Zen Cart boasts a rich user interface and a user friendly shopping cart that more than meets the demands of the modern web. The cart is primarily for small and medium sizes business owners and features a built in CMS, category management, inventory management and SEO friendly URLs. A broad array of no cost and paid email templates are included as well as other features such as shipping options discounts and integration with multiple payment gateways.
Zen Cart is completely free and forum support is strong enough to cover the lack of formal support due to it being a free service. However upgrades and add-on integrations can be difficult, whilst basic reporting and a less than appealing aesthetic may put some potential users off.
Originally set up as a blogging tool WordPress offers low cost web development which is relatively easy to install and benefits from a large online community providing support and advice. It is flexible in terms of the scale of your online store and it is regularly maintained and updated. There are numerous plugins available to make your site work effectively as an online store and easy customisation makes adding functionality to your site very straightforward. As with any system there are drawbacks. Themes can be a bit restrictive, and some systems have a reputation for security flaws – WordPress is no exception. The platform isn’t great for bespoke functionality and you won’t get the same service you can experience on other platforms such as Magento.
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