Is a Website Builder Really the Best Platform for an E-Commerce Store?
E-commerce has taken the world by storm. The ability to sell your service or your product to a potentially unlimited number of people is understandably attractive. There is a substantial amount of confusion regarding the technology behind e-commerce stores though. Some believe that e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento, are the same as website builder tools, such as Squarespace and Weebly.
Part of this confusion stems from the fact that with the growing popularity of e-commerce solutions, a lot of site builders have started promoting e-commerce functionality. The real issue with not using a platform like Shopify is the third party plugins. If you compare Shopify to Wix, you can see there is a huge difference in their abilities and the end user experience. Here are just a few examples.
Applications Made for E-Commerce
As you would expect, e-commerce website builders have a number of add-ons or plug-ins that are designed to help you get your e-commerce store up and running. These plug-ins not only allow you to present your products in the most attractive way, but they also help you to market the products you are selling, offer discounts, upsell, connect your users to social media, monitor your accounting, and offer customer service, just to name a few. E-commerce website builders offer some of these tools for free, but a lot of the higher end ones are paid for.
On the flip side, a generic website builder is going to give you all of the basic tools you will need without the integration or store customization. Why does that matter? Well, let’s say that you use Shopify to build your e-commerce website. You will be able to integrate applications to your online store that will not only monitor your inventory, but when your inventory items gets to zero, they will automatically remove that item from your shop.
You will also be able to integrate tools that make it possible for your customers to see where their item is in the shipping process in real time. There are also features that allow you as the seller to automatically reorder whatever products you are selling from vendors when your stock gets low.
Now, let’s say you use a generic website builder like Squarespace. You will be able to use basic e-commerce tools, but you are not going to be able to integrate them as thoroughly, nor will you have the freedom to customize them as you would if you built your e-commerce store using a platform that was designed for e-commerce.
Most generic website builders are going to give you the option to receive a payment using the most common forms of payment, including PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.Net. Conversely, if you use an e-commerce platform to build your store, you could potentially receive the ability to be paid using more than 40 different payment gateways.
Most e-commerce platforms include some form of POS system as a plug-in or an add-on. This makes it easier for you to track inventory using your online store. If you sell your last collector Star Trek bracelet, it will be shown as out of stock.
Shopify and other e-commerce platforms are designed to help you get your store up and running as quickly as possible. That is why these platforms are aimed at individuals who have little to no web development skills. The goal is that anyone can build their own store without needing to know how to code at all. In contrast, some website builders are designed for novices but have a number of features that would only be understood by someone who has a programming background.
The flip side is that with a site like Shopify, there is very little that you are going to be able to do in the way of modification. There are some minor tweaks you can make through coding or by adding on particular apps. You will only be able to host your site using Shopify servers.
Is It Worth It to Spend Money on an E-Commerce Platform?
The answer depends on what you want from your e-commerce store. You need to look at the features that the e-commerce platform you are considering using will offer. Then compare those features with what they are charging you to use their service or to use their servers. If you feel that the tools your e-commerce store requires are what you need to sell your product, then it’s likely worth the extra money.
An e-commerce platform may not be right for you if:
- You will not be selling a large number of products online
- You do not need checkout customization
- You want to make regular blog posts available on your business site
If you are not going to sell a lot of items online, then you may not need the automated management that comes from an e-commerce platform. However, if you are looking at selling a number of items, your life will be made a lot easier by being able to automatically track and monitor these things.
If you want to consistently add blog content to your business website, then Squarespace and Weebly are the way to go. Many e-commerce platforms are focused on the products in your online shop, so they make it a little bit harder for you to post blog material.
After looking at the pros and cons of each choice, what do you think? Is an e-commerce platform right for you? Or is your business better suited to a website builder? Let us know and tell us the reasons why in the comments section below.