Which is the best shopping cart platform for you?
Isn’t it exciting? You’ve got your business up and running, you’ve got your epic products ready to let loose into the big wide web…
You just need an shopping cart platform to actually sell the things.
You’ve heard great things about Shopify… but your mate recommended Woocommerce… And doesn’t Paul run his super successful shop on Squarespace?
Oh hi there, decision fatigue.
With so many options available for small businesses in the online shopping realm, it’s easy to feel… overwhelm. (Did I just make a rhyme?)
There are plenty of places you can go to help you make that decision – it just takes a little Googling. But as far as I can tell, no one is giving you a tailored answer to your question.
I don’t care what the best shopping cart platform is.
I care about which is the best platform for you.
So, I’m breaking it down. I’ve taken 5 of the most popular – and varied – options there are for us small business owners, and designed a quick quiz you can take to determine the perfect match for your business.
Call me the… eCommerce Cupid?
Before we take the quiz, just a bit more info about the platforms I’ve included:
The crafty creator’s choice. Etsy is a marketplace where anyone can set up shop and sell there handmade items or vintage bits and bobs.
It’s a great option for testing your products before investing in a full shopping platform, and it’s a great way to reach a large audience.
The main downside is the lack of customisation you can do (you can change your shop header image and that’s about it) as well as the (small) fees Etsy takes for your product listings.
Cost: Free to set up shop, $0.20 USD for each item that you list plus a transaction fee of 3.5% of the item price when you make a sale.
Ease of use: Super easy – my mum could set this up
SEO ranking: Good, but your real focus should be on whether your listing is jumping to the top of the Etsy search results as most of your traffic will be coming from buyers searching within Etsy. Debbie has a wonderful post on making the most of your Etsy listing for SEO.
Customisation: Poor. You can’t do much other than give your shop a fancy header image, and make the most of the images in your listing. The overall effect is that your customers may remember your products, but are less likely to remember your shop – just that they bought from Etsy. The upside is that Etsy is seen as a secure, reliable place to buy from and that could really help your business.
Ebay and Amazon
I’ve lumped these guys together because there’s little in it. There’s also no harm in selling on both sites. eBay is the classic for auction-based selling, and still wins at that. That said, it is moving more towards Amazon’s model of fixed-price payments. I’d recommend flicking through this article to really see the advantages of both.
Cost: eBay’s takes 10% (plus a potential Paypal fee) of your sale. List up to 20 items for free a month. Amazon takes a referral fee which is all dependant on the kind of product you sell… it gets complicated. All in all, there isn’t much in it.
Ease of use: Both are easy enough (I think I started selling on eBay when I was 15.)
SEO ranking: Like Etsy, you’ll be focussing on competition within the shop domain. There are plenty of articles out there on how to optimise your listings. Overall, eBay and Amazon are great for being found because so much traffic is coming directly to these sites.
Customisation: Amazon is terrible. You can upload an image but that’s virtually it. eBay has vastly improved, and you see some big name brands with decent looking storefronts, so you have a good opportunity to make the storefront your own.
The biggest draw for me with Squarespace is the sheer beauty of it’s templates. If your main focus is showcasing some beautiful product images, and you want a quick-fix, out of the box website, then Squarespace is a worthy contender.
I hadn’t realised however, until reading this post, the drawbacks that come with the pretty face of Squarespace (I’m such a poet.) Conculsion: if you only have one product to sell, and the appearance of the website itself is most important to you, go with Squarespace.
Cost: From $26 a month
Ease of use: Easy, though the interface can feel buggy and slow on older machines.
SEO ranking: Not amazing. The actual domain authority of Squarespace sites is on average much lower than our other contenders.
Customisation: Not easy. The idea of Squarespace is that it already looks so amazing… so don’t mess with it.
Shopify has a lot of things going for it: you can start from as little as $9 a month (selling products on Facebook and point-of-sale), the support is great and you’ve got everything you need to run a full online retail business there. Plus, from the looks of things their store templates have improved a lot over the years, so you could have a pretty snazzy looking shop up in no time.
Cost: from $9 a month (though, for an actual shop prices start at $29 a month)
Ease of use: Fairly easy, though not quite Squarespace.
SEO: Average, better than Squarespace.
Customisation: You have full control over your HTML and CSS, and there is extensive documentation to help you out.
I’ll admit it – this is my choice. Primarily because Woocommerce is a fantastic free option for those running sites on WordPress. I love that it is as simple as installing a plugin, but there are some things to keep in mind. If your WordPress theme isn’t set up to handle it, you could be in trouble.
There are also a lot of expensive add-ons if you want to do slightly more advanced features on your shop, such as subscription services, and this can add up.
Cost: Free (but be prepared to shell out for add-ons)
Ease of use: Moderately easy to begin, can get complicated
SEO: Very good for page rank
Customisation: Possible, but not always easy/cheap – PHP knowledge is useful
Like WordPress (.org!), Magento is a free, open-source content management system. So, if you can take the time to set it up (or pay someone else to) then you have full reign of control.
Unlike WordPress, Magento is 100% intended for use as an eCommerce solution. For more complex features like different shipping options and so on (that Woocommerce charges a LOT for) are all fully possible with Magento.
Ease of use: Not for the beginner, big learning curve
SEO: Very good – wins on domain authority and number of pages indexed by Google
Customisation: Excellent – if you can handle the code/pay someone to do it
Now… take the quiz!
You can embed quiz this on your site – just copy and paste the code below:<a href=”http://wp.me/p5bc9S-17w”><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-4322 size-large” src=”http://www.catrosedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Best-Shopping-Cart-Platform-559×1024.png” alt=”Best Shopping Cart Platform” width=”559″ height=”1024″ /></a>
Big thanks to these eCommerce geniuses for their advice: eCommerce Platforms for the input on the quiz (plus loads more info on eCommerce solutions), more about SEO ranking of these platforms, the Squarespace vs Shopify debate, a comparison of eBay and Amazon, how to pick between WordPress and Magento
If you still have any questions on choosing the best shopping cart platform for you, feel free to get in touch
If you took the quiz, which platform did you end up with? Was it a match made in heaven?!
Let me know in the comments below!
(Alternatively send me a tweet @creativeintro to let me know if you found this useful)