Ecommerce or electronic commerce is the commercial transaction of digital products, goods, and services through the web or the internet. The ecommerce industry has been fast growing over the past few years and has been increasingly popular with young entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners.
However, starting a business online is not as easy as one might think. Just because transactions are done online does not mean that running an ecommerce store or online business would be as equally easy and convenient. If you plan to start an ecommerce store, it is important to know what are the different types of ecommerce platforms. With that. Here is a quick overview and introduction to the ecommerce industry and the types of ecommerce platforms popular among online entrepreneurs.
What Is An Ecommerce Platform?
The first step to joining the ecommerce industry is to choose a suitable ecommerce platform. An ecommerce platform is a software or website that serves as a stage for ecommerce transactions to occur. This software allows online business processes from posting products, selecting an item, and buying them all completely online. Ecommerce platforms also serve as a tool to manage important aspects of an online retail business from inventory, sales tracking, and even digital marketing.
The purpose of an ecommerce platform is to allow an online store to be fully functional while keeping the majority of the business processes digital. Think of an ecommerce platform as the place where you build your store from the ground up. But instead of building shelves, setting up lights, and the like, you create your online store using web pages and other web development tools. However, the number of features, design sets, and other functionalities may depend on the type of ecommerce platform you choose.
Types of Ecommerce Platforms
As an aspiring online entrepreneur, it is important to choose the right ecommerce platform that would best benefit your business. There are generally three types of ecommerce platforms commonly used by online business owners. This includes subscription-based, open-source, and headless ecommerce platforms.
Subscription-based ecommerce platform
A subscription-based ecommerce platform is a unique program or software that serves as a payment gateway for online businesses. This type of ecommerce platform allows entrepreneurs to bill and send out invoices for reoccurring purchases that customers subscribed to. It is a platform that mediates between the sale of your digital product or service and the acquisition of the said product.
This platform’s unique feature automatically processes the billing and payment of customers before proceeding to the online sale and shipping procedures. Subscription-based ecommerce platforms are best for online stores that offer regular purchases whether it’s on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Open-source ecommerce platform
An open-source ecommerce platform is a type of program or software that provides free ecommerce frameworks for online stores and websites. It is typically handled by an active community of web developers that continuously collaborate with other developers and their users to create helpful website features to improve the overall user experience.
Choosing an open-source ecommerce platform provides business owners with the design of their ecommerce website, both on the front-end and back-end. However, this type of ecommerce platform requires in-depth knowledge and skill and web development as it controls everything from how your website looks and down to how it operates. Therefore, business owners either need to be knowledgeable about web design themselves or hire a web and software developer to handle the creation of their website from scratch.
While open-source ecommerce platforms offer control and flexibility, it has their fair share of risks and cons that online store owners need to be aware of. One critical downside of using an open-source ecommerce platform is that the security, maintenance, and optimization of your ecommerce website rely on you. You need to know how to self-manage your website and ensure that everything is working properly as it should. This makes open-source ecommerce platforms not particularly best for those who are just starting a business online.
Headless ecommerce Platform
Headless ecommerce platforms are a new form of ecommerce framework that separates the front-end and back-end processes of an ecommerce website or application. This type of ecommerce platform provides the most flexibility for developers as they can change, adjust, and redesign front-end or back-end elements of the site without affecting the other.
Headless ecommerce makes it easy for businesses to adapt to the fast-changing trends and technologies involved in the ecommerce industry. It also allows developers to apply change after change that can help improve the customer’s experience without having to worry about messing with current front-end or back-end coding and design.
However, adopting a headless ecommerce requires deep technical know-how and a large workforce of developers and IT professionals. This makes headless ecommerce suitable for already large companies or significantly fast-growing businesses. People who would be working on headless ecommerce business models should also be creative and innovative as it requires custom programming throughout. With a reliable team, headless ecommerce can scale a business so much faster, apply a new digital marketing strategy, and test out new design models that can all improve and optimize the website user interface and user experience.
Tips In Choosing An Ecommerce Platform
Choosing the type of platform to use for your ecommerce store is one of the first things you need to consider when starting a business online. But how do you exactly choose the right one? Here are some helpful tips that may guide you in selecting the suitable ecommerce platform for your business:
- Choose one that already works or is compatible with the design and layout of your website. If not, opt for one that offers quick and easy ways to build a website from scratch.
- New entrepreneurs should look for an ecommerce platform that is in line with their technical know-how. There are tons of website builder options available that are easy to use. However, some commercial features may be limited.
- Opt for an ecommerce platform that works with the nature of your ecommerce business. Large-scale online stores would benefit from feature-rich and flexible platforms but this would cost more. On the other hand, startups and small online businesses would make do with basic website features.
- Know what features your business needs to function. Some ecommerce platforms come at cheap but only offer significantly limited features. Look into the platform’s shipping (local or international), language, and currency support. Having these features available on your ecommerce platforms make it easier for you to expand the business and reach new markets.
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