The strong growth of online trade in the German market, which has been additionally driven by the Corona pandemic, is attracting more and more companies to the Internet. They need their own online store to cope with the change in consumer buying behavior and to compensate for sales slumps in brick-and-mortar retail. But how do you find the right e-commerce platform or the best store system for your business?
In this blog entry, we will show you what is important when comparing e-commerce software and which criteria you should take into account when deciding on an online store system so that your entry into the e-commerce market is successful.
Integrated platform or best of breed?
Is it better to pick the best solution for each area of application and integrate it into your own IT structure (best of breed), or would you rather opt for a vendor's integrated e-commerce platform, which usually works like an e-commerce construction kit? Both the all-in-one solution and the best-of-breed option offer different advantages and disadvantages for a store system:
- Mostly many marketing and e-commerce functions as well as other out of the box tools
- Consistent processes in administration and frontend (as hardly any interfaces have to be maintained or compatibility between systems has to be ensured)
- Very good user experience for visitors and high efficiency in administration
- More suitable for large companies due to higher investment costs
Best of breed
- Combined, specialized systems are often superior to an integrated platform in their partial functionality
- Particularly suitable for small stores or medium-sized companies due to lower investment costs
- Interfaces often restrict the usable range of functions (under certain circumstances, the actual usable range of services falls short of that of an integrated platform)
- The more extensions are installed in the online store, the more complex the maintenance and the more unstable the operation. Tip: Choose an e-commerce solution that already covers most of the required functions as standard, so that as little additional software as possible needs to be connected.
Software as a Service or on-premise e-commerce platform?
You should also take a closer look in terms of their operating and licensing models to find the right store system for your e-commerce goals.
With on-premise solutions, the software license must be purchased. This results in higher initial costs here. With SaaS solutions, on the other hand, the upfront investment is significantly lower. Here, the customer rents the application including hosting and usually pays a monthly fee.
Cloud-based SaaS solutions generally run with good performance. However, with on-premise platforms such as xt:Commerce, even SaaS giants such as Shopify can be outperformed in terms of performance. However, this requires the appropriate technical know-how. After all, maintenance, monitoring and backups have to be taken care of by the agency and the customer themselves.
When it comes to data protection, many online retailers and companies feel safer with an on-premise solution. This is because customer data is stored on the company's own server. In reality, however, cloud companies adhere to technical and legal standards that are difficult for individual companies that host their own servers.
Open source solution or licensed software for the online store?
When choosing the best e-commerce platform, you should also compare the pros and cons of free software and licensed software and check which online store solution suits your business.
Open source software
- No licensing costs
- Rapid further development possible if the software is supported by a large developer community
- Source code is viewable and editable --> bugs can be fixed by everyone themselves
- Software can be modified and adapted to own needs
- With an inactive community further developments falter fast
- Often there are no guarantees or support from the manufacturer (store operator is dependent on help from the community)
- Due to the more open source code, security-relevant vulnerabilities can be found and exploited more quickly.
License e-commerce software
- Guarantees and support from the software manufacturer
- The manufacturer takes care of the security of the e-commerce software and provides patches.
- License costs
- Often less innovative/individual solutions and extensions available than with open source systems
In order to combine the advantages of the open source variant with those of licensed software and exclude possible disadvantages, many manufacturers of open source software offer enterprise subscriptions. These ensure regulated customer service, offer otherwise missing guarantees as well as additional functional add-ons.
B2B e-commerce: What criteria are relevant when choosing a store system?
B2B e-commerce brings with it special requirements compared to B2C online commerce:
- Often more complex pricing (e.g. individual prices on item level, discounts for bulk purchases, special conditions for selected customer groups)
- different logins under one customer account, to be managed by the customer himself
- advanced shopping cart functions (e.g. shopping suggestions based on previous orders, seasonal conditions and current campaigns)
Blackbit supports you competently in the agony of platform choice
Our store system comparison shows: There are all kinds of things to consider when choosing the right e-commerce platform. Take your time and thoroughly weigh the decision for an online store system from the customer's as well as the merchant's point of view. This is the only way to avoid making a bad investment in a system that, in retrospect, is not the best fit for your e-commerce company and your customers.
As an experienced digital commerce agency, we are happy to help you define your requirements and advise you personally on choosing the right e-commerce solution. We have been using the Pimcore (CoreShop) and xt:Commerce platforms for e-commerce projects for many years. In addition, we have been supporting online retailers for some time with BigCommerce, Shopify and Shopware - all three are recommended by the renowned IT market research company Gartner, among others.
Of course, choosing a store system is only one of the first steps on the road to e-commerce success. If you wish, we can provide additional support in setting up and customizing your e-commerce platform and in developing and implementing online marketing strategies to achieve your goals in the long term. Arrange a no-obligation consultation now.
Stefano Viani is the managing director of Blackbit digital Commerce GmbH He is always up to date with the latest developments and trends in e-commerce and digital marketing. For decades he has been a consultant for large and medium-sized companies for the technical, visual and advertising optimisation of websites. In particular, he develops concepts and measures for successful sales marketing.
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