5 e-commerce platforms at a glance - Creating your own modular online shop

More and more consumers are choosing the option to buy online instead of running from one store to another. According to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, the revenue generated by e-commerce grew by 23 percent in 2020 in Germany alone compared to the year before. Many companies and brands are therefore making the decision to offer their products in their own online shop. As building an online shop can be especially difficult for inexperienced people, e-commerce platforms are available. In this article, we will show you what they do and which platforms there are.

What are e-commerce platforms?

E-commerce platforms are there to help you build an online shop and manage it. That means the platforms are not only helpful with designing the shop or listing products. They are rather an access point where retailers can find everything they need when it comes to building and managing an online shop.

Some examples show which tasks an e-commerce platform will provide support with:

  • Retailers list a new product including all important information. The platform then provides fields for things such as product name, description, price, and shipping options.
  • Pictures and videos are uploaded at a central point and then selected.
  • Many platforms have integrated SEO functions, such as optimising meta-descriptions. This helps search engines to display a better description for customers.
  • Once a customer buys a product, the ordering process can be completed directly on the platform.

Which kinds of e-commerce platforms are there?

In principle, e-commerce platforms are divided into two types: externally hosted and self-hosted. We will show you the differences in the following paragraphs.

Externally hosted e-commerce platforms

Every website and every online shop needs hosting. That means the space on a server on which all information concerning a website is stored. With externally hosted e-commerce platforms, the hosting is already included in the package.

Usually, retailers then pay a fixed monthly fee, and the provider takes care of the set-up and updates concerning the hosting. The benefit of this type of platform is that users have more time to focus on their core business. However, this comes with less freedom of choice.

Self-hosted e-commerce platforms

With self-hosted e-commerce platforms, retailers themselves take care of the hosting of their online shop. This can be done on an own server or by renting server space from a hosting provider. The ongoing administration and maintenance must then however be done independently, which takes time.

Self-hosted e-commerce platforms do come with more freedom of choice, though. That means retailers have the option to design their online shop just how they want it.

Which e-commerce platform is the best?

The question of whether a platform fits a certain retailer is an individual decision. Various factors play a role in this, such as technical expertise, the company’s size, which functions are important for the online shop, and how much time the company wants to invest into managing it. The following is a small selection of e-commerce platforms. 

  1. Shopify: Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms as it is considered to be especially user-friendly. With Shopify, companies can choose from several options depending on their size and needs, the lowest rate is available for 27 euros per month. In return, retailers get a wide choice of designs, SEO functions, and a customer service that can be reached 24/7 and will help with any questions or problems.
  2. Shopware: This platform is also easy to use. Shopware works in such a way that retailers can create their own individualised online shop. The design can also be customised in any manner. What’s more, the basic model can be used completely free of charge.
  3. WooCommerce: WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. For retailers using WordPress as their content management system, the addition of an online shop is made possible with the free plugin. Retailers have much freedom of choice when it comes to design, but must in turn take care of hosting by themselves.
  4. Jimdo: This e-commerce platform is primarily intended for small online shops. The basic rate can be booked for only 15 euros per month, but the amount of subpages allowed in the shop is limited. Whoever wants to sell only a few items can do so without much hassle for a low price at Jimdo.
  5. Squarespace: This platform is especially suitable for users without any experience. That is because it is structured as a homepage building kit with which individual adjustments are easy to do without investing much time. Squarespace is aimed towards retailers without any experience in e-commerce, the cheapest rate is available for about only 8 euros per month.

E-commerce is becoming ever more important in 2022. That is because this year, the monthly revenue of online retail has been much higher than that of brick-and-mortar retail once again. With the right e-commerce platform, companies no longer face the challenges that come with an online shop but are rather supported with building and managing one.

About the author:

BASIC thinking is an online magazine and is one of the widest reaching tech platforms in German-speaking countries. The magazine reports about social media, marketing, and business topics daily. This article was written by Christina Widner from BASIC thinking GmbH and BASIC thinking International.