4 Leading eCommerce Platforms and the Philosophies That Define Them

Posted by Pixafy Team

Selecting an ecommerce platform is more than a matter of exploring a few spec sheets and reviews. If all you do is look at feature sets and try to find the best fit, you may soon find yourself lost amongst variable pricing models, contradictory opinions from past users and feature sets that can vary heavily, depending on your specific service plan and usage tendencies. All things considered, it is difficult to find a platform that is a good fit with your own.

A consulting and development specialist, such as Pixafy, can help you make a good decision. We have experience working with a variety of brands that are either launching new sites or migrating to a new platform, so we have plenty of insights into what makes different platforms stand out and what you can expect in various ecosystems.

That said, you probably also want a deeper understanding of the capabilities of the different platforms out there. In practice, such an assessment becomes complicated, in large part because many sites start on a platform and then heavily customize that base to create a unique solution. Instead of looking at product features and service plans – they are important, they just aren’t the only factor to keep in mind – let’s explore the philosophical distinctions between some of the most prominent ecommerce platforms currently on the market.

1. Shopify

As a brand, Shopify is heavily focused on streamlining the ecommerce experience. The company got its start when it created its own online store to manage snowboard equipment sales. It quickly realized that there was a gap in the market for an easy-to-use, all-in-one ecommerce solution, and it stepped in to fill that need.

With this overarching vision at its back, Shopify is designed to create an extremely simple user experience with templates and modules that let users easily add functions from pre-built systems. There are now more than 600,000 stores running on Shopify.

Besides handling easy site setup, Shopify also provides hosting and integration with mobile and social commerce tools.

The platform is often a natural fit for ecommerce startups or brands that are hoping to spur growth by eliminating technical overhead in managing their sites. However, Shopify’s heavy focus on ease of use can lead to limited options when it comes to customization and flexibility.

2. Magento

Magento supports some of the largest brands in the world and boasts a total customer base of more than 250,000 merchants. The platform attributes this popularity to its focus on flexibility. Today’s ecommerce environment is marked by a need for constant change in line with customer demands. To that end, Magento has created a community of more than 150,000 developers, offering a variety of extensions and modules to help businesses optimize their online stores.

Magento is built on open-source software and focuses much more heavily on customization than platforms such as Shopify. This makes Magento ideal for organizations that want to create especially unique and brand-specific sites, even if that means taking on more technical work and maintenance.

In many ways, working with Magento is a bit like having a more structured proprietary system. The platform offers a core backend for standard processes and includes extensions for many specific functions, but you also have room to build on it however you want, making it a powerful toolkit for brands that want to get creative.

3. WooCommerce

The WooCommerce platform acts as an open source platform built onto WordPress. This allows the system to operate as a flexible, fully modular solution with significant opportunities for customization. Furthermore, as the platform is based on the underlying code of WordPress, the platform has the full security backing of the open source community and provides powerful interfaces for blending content-focused parts of a site with the primary commerce functionality.

The heavy focus on customization available in WooCommerce allows for a great deal of freedom and openness within the platform, making the solution a natural fit for organizations with strong development skills. It also comes with a variety of pre-created WordPress themes and extensions to make it easier to customize without necessarily having to build everything from scratch.

4. Demandware

As a Salesforce-based cloud ecommerce system, Demandware offers organizations access to enterprise-class applications and features to incorporate into their site. These capabilities range from using artificial intelligence to foster customization to big data systems that allow for predictive commerce. All of the heavy lifting within the platform is completed in the cloud, empowering organizations to leverage extremely advanced technologies in a somewhat accessible way.

There are plenty of options on the market for brands working to get an ecommerce site set up, but each platform will offer a blend of immediate features and customization options. Finding the right fit may require a great deal of analysis, but understanding these platform-defining philosophies can help you get a start in the decision-making process.