Best eCommerce Platform: Leverage Apps to Grow Your Business

Last updated on December 19, 2017

Best eCommerce PlatformBefore we figure out what is the best eCommerce platform and software available if you are building your own online store, let’s briefly define what exactly is an eCommerce “platform”.

There are so many different good online store builders available for you today, it gets pretty confusing really quickly especially when all the different builders suggest they are the best.

This is why it is important for you to understand what exactly is an eCommerce platform, and how it is different from an average website builder.

Our own definition of a “platform” is an online store builder which has the flexibility for you to keep adding more and more advanced functions to help leverage even more growth when you are ready.

Some of the best platforms include (more discussion below):

  1. Shopify (500,000+ Users)
  2. BigCommerce (95,000+ Users)

(Note: There are other self-hosted open source platforms such as WordPress. For this article, we are focusing on Shopify and BigCommerce as we have experiences using them. See our discussion on hosted versus self-hosted eCommerce software here)

Before we get into why they are great platforms below, let’s set the stage to see why you may need a powerful “platform”, and not just another average, run-of-the-mill website builder.

Shopify Plus (Enterprise Level Users) – If you’re in the big leagues and your business generates 6 to 7 figures in sales per year, this is how Shopify Plus can help you grow even more.

ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM THIS?

Let’s say you are just starting out with a very simple eCommerce site. You’re selling a handful of products, uploaded some beautiful product images, wrote some enticing product descriptions, and connected it to a shopping cart and you’re off to the races!

best ecommerce platform - multitaskYou promote your store using a variety of marketing techniques and people start to notice and visit your site. You’ve discovered that your visitors love what you have to offer, and they are purchasing! You’re now in business!

As your sales start to grow (which is just awesome!), you’re starting to get really, really busy.

You have to keep managing and growing your sales channels (how many social media networks are there again??), you have to create new marketing material, answer (sometimes angry) support emails, manage your inventory and working capital, shipping, analyze your sales reports, handle taxes and the always dreadful bookkeeping.

Your family and friends are asking why you’ve disappeared, your kids want you to play with them, your spouse / significant other is wondering if you have a new love affair with your computer…

O-M-G…. what do you do??

WHY YOU NEED A TOP ECOMMERCE PLATFORM

This is where a top eCommerce platform comes into play.

The best eCommerce platform allows you to keep adding tools to your online store not only to help your business grow, but just as importantly, the tools can free up a significant portion of your time so you can focus on other more important things (personal and professional).

Best ecommerce Platform - platform

The conventional website builder, while great and has some good eCommerce tools for you to use, more often than not, doesn’t have a solid platform for you to keep advancing your business to the next level.

This is not to say that these website builders are no good – let’s just say that they are designed to help an online store only to a certain point. Once you reach that level (which is awesome), you will need a more advanced and flexible ecommerce platform to help you climb to a higher place.

MARKETPLACE – EXTENSIONS AND APPS

Some of the best eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento, have marketplaces where you can pick and choose additional functions to “bolt on” to your online store.

Some platforms call them extensions, some label them as apps. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just consider them the same things as they are created to make your life easier.

There are a number of categories of functions that you can add to your online store, including:

  • Sales & Marketing
  • Shipping / Fulfillment
  • Inventory / Order Management
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting
  • Reporting / Analytics

Here are a few real examples of how apps / extensions can help save you time and energy:

Accounting App

An accounting app can integrate your store with specific accounting software. So you don’t have to manually export data, put them in the proper format, and then import them into your accounting software.

The accounting app will allow your online store to “talk” to your accounting software, and your financial data will automatically get integrated into your accounting software, saving you from hours of administrative work on a monthly basis, not to mention it will save you from making costly mistakes.

Best eCommerce platform - accounting

eCommerce platforms allow you to pick and choose from a number of different accounting apps, to synchronize with your accounting software.

Order Management App

Traditionally, the manual way to get products to your customers is to receive a sales notification, export this data into an Excel spreadsheet and send it to your warehouse / fulfillment center to have them send out your products.

Or if you are just shipping your goods from home, you might have to copy and paste your customer’s address into a label printing software, then print them out which can be a real pain when you start to get more sales.

An order management app allows your online store to automatically communicate your orders to your warehouse or fulfillment center in the right format. So when you get sales, the shipments are fulfilled without you having to deal with any administrative work.

Or, the app can automatically aggregate all your customer shipping addresses, hook up with a printing software, and automatically start printing your shipping labels with 100% accuracy.

These are just a couple of real life situations where apps or extensions can come in handy, and rescue you from a lot of grief.

best Ecommerce Platform - shipping app

These tools can help you systematize or automate a lot of manual work, so when a sale takes place, all these other functions will kick in automatically without you having to be there to initiate and do all the grunt work.

These “systems” will also help ensure accuracy, as you know when you start to get tired, mistakes are inevitable.

Again, while you might not need these more sophisticated tools at the beginning, if you start to grow your business, you’ll need to get them eventually.

This is why you shouldn’t just pick any good ol’ website builder if you are serious about building a successful eCommerce online store. There is only one of you, and so selecting a solid eCommerce platform that gives you the tools necessary to grow along side with your business is so important.

1) SHOPIFY (500,000+ ACTIVE ONLINE STORES)

Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platform available to you in the market today.

Not only are their storefront beautiful and professional (which is important in convincing your visitors to at least stay on your site to look around), they have a massive library of apps in their marketplace so you can pick and choose which functions you want to bolt onto your store.

best ecommerce platform - shopify app store

While some of these apps are free, some of them are paid. But paying for a useful app to help streamline your business is well worth the investment, especially if your store is growing. These tools can save you time and headaches while allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your business, or just free up some time so you can have a life!

Think about it – instead of paying a part-time or full-time person (or just yourself) to do this for you, using the app is so much cheaper over the long run and because it doesn’t experience mood swings or fatigue, the app won’t make unnecessary errors.

2) BIGCOMMERCE (95,000+ ACTIVE ONLINE STORES)

BigCommerce is another great eCommerce platform that has plenty of apps to help you add more functionality to your store, reduce manual work required from you, to help you grow your business.

These apps can help you promote your products more effectively, automate your daily mundane tasks, and give you a lot more horsepower without taking up any more of your precious time.

Best ecommerce platform - bigcommerce

Some of these Apps are free, and some are paid. But they are well worth the investment as they can help grow your business while freeing up your time.

In addition to a broad range of apps available in its marketplace, BigCommerce has a very comprehensive set of “out of the box” eCommerce tools that can help you build a very functional online store.

BigCommerce is also one of the best eCommerce platforms today. They compete against Shopify and while both platforms are great, each has its own pros and cons.

CONCLUSION – BEST ECOMMERCE PLATFORM

While there are great website builders that offer some eCommerce tools, if you want to take your online store to the next level by automating more and more mundane tasks, freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your business, choosing an online store builder that has a flexible and supportive platform is really important to you.

Put it this way, if you don’t free up more of your time and automate a lot of business processes, you will have a really hard time growing your business. Good platforms give you the tools to take “you” out of a lot of business processes, and reduce chances of human errors. The less of “you” is required to run each process, the faster you can grow your online store.

With Shopify and BigCommerce, both have marketplaces where you can pick and choose both free and paid apps to add more functionality to your business. They are such powerful platforms because they have the depth to grow alongside your business as you grow, while other more “generic” website builders can only take you so far.

At some point of your growth, it’s all about gaining the right leverage to expand your business, without taking up exponentially more of your limited time. This is where platforms can give you the right tools to accomplish this.

There are only 24 hours per day – you have to be very strategic on how you deploy these hours. Either do it yourself, or leverage on tools to do some of the work for you.

Found This Guide Helpful?

Leave a comment below; or

Share it with your friends – Tweet, Like, Follow, Pin us below.

The biggest compliment we can receive from you is a Share!

 

Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

Subscribe

Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

,

Leave a Reply

12 Responses to Best eCommerce Platform: Leverage Apps to Grow Your Business

  1. #

    Hi

    Thanks for sharing nice article regarding best ecommerce platform.

    Regards
    Saurabh

    • Tom Watts
      #

      Hi saurabh,

      Great to hear you found the post interesting.

      Best of luck with your ecommerce store,

      – Tom

  2. #

    Hi Jeremy, thank you for the article!
    I’d just add that Shopify and BigCommerce are good for small businesses, or those that don’t require much customization. If you need many things customized or plan to integrate with your existing ERP, etc. I’d suggest open source solutions like nopCommerce or Prestashop, they give far more opportunities to implement your individual needs.

    • Tom Watts
      #

      Hi Maria,

      I think I agree with you insofar that Bigcommerce + Shopify are good choices for small businesses.

      But I would definitely consider them both to be strong choices for larger businesses too! Especially on the (admittedly higher priced) enterprise plans. Shopify’s top tier plan is probably one of the best ecommerce platforms available online, so you might be selling it a little short limiting it just to small businesses.

      I think you’re right to point out that open solutions can give you greater flexibility, however if we look at the potential time and money you’ll need to invest into PrestaShop or nopCommerce to achieve anything remotely resembling a premium Shopify store – then I really do think Shopify would come out on top.

      Not to diminish your suggestions, they’re both great – however, they are beyond of the technical abilities of most of our readers!

      – Tom

  3. #

    Hello Jeremy!,
    Nice article, we like your insights about the best ecommerce platforms.

    In 2016, We will see responsive ecommerce store plus companion mobile app to boost profits and connect to potential buyers. We will also see Augmented Reality coming to picture to change the entire buying experience to purchase through smartphone.

  4. #

    These are great tips Jeremy! Very innovative and I really love reading this one. I have an online selling business, and I think this one will help me on how to sell more of my products easier. This one is convenient and easy to understand, I will be using this platform starting tomorrow, I know this one will help me on enhancing my skills on this business. Thankful there are platforms like this.

    Jeremy this is a great work, I will share this article to my friends who also have online business.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks for your comment Dennise!

  5. #

    I wan to say that you are a great blogger. Kepp it up with more interesting topics.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for the feedback! Hopefully you got some interesting insights from this discussion about ecommerce platforms!

      Jeremy

  6. #

    I’m considering moving my web store to Shopify. I currently maintain my inventory in QuickBooks. I was wondering if you had evaluated accounting and inventory management apps to establish a 2-way interface between Shopify and Quick/books.

    Also, I understand that you have a newsletter. How do I sign up to receive it?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Bill,

      We haven’t tested the integration between Shopify and Quickbooks. But there are a lot of Shopify consultants / experts out there that has and it’s worth asking them for their thoughts.

      As for our newsletter, go here to sign up.

      – Jeremy

  7. #

    I have my online store with shopify, what I like most is the easy of the platform an also the have payment plans that allow me to grow with my business, when I was selling 20 products I did pay less, and the when the business was growing I start to pay more, but my store was doing much better.