E-commerce sites compared

Guidance for retailers planning their online store

Health food stores thinking about launching (or switching) their e-commerce site can avail themselves of a number of comparison sites.

It’s important to spend some time comparing factors such as price and payment options while taking into account design quality, functionality and marketing support. And, crucially, whether you can have a free trial.

One of the best comparisons can be found at merchantmachine.co.uk/ecommerce-platforms where 21 platforms are compared (as of October 6).

Bear in mind that with costs, although monthly platform costs are important, you’re actually likely to spend more on credit and debit card processing fees once your store becomes even modestly successful.

Merchantmachine points out two basic options: to either go with a platform with integrated payment processing or one that uses an external payment processor such as PayPal.

The advantage of an integrated payment solution is that it makes set-up easier, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. It also means you only have to deal with one company in your e-commerce journey, allowing you to focus on building your store rather than spending time fiddling with payment settings. Merchantmachine reckons Shopify and EKM are the two most popular platforms with fully integrated payments.

However, be warned that some integrated payment solutions are not the cheapest available so it’s worth shopping around. By comparing merchant accounts payment gateways, you should be able to find a solution at under one per cent for credit card payments and under 0.5% for debit cards.

So, which is the best platform for your specific requirements? You have plenty of homework to do with names such as Shopify, EKM, BigCommerce, Big Cartel, Magento, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Lightspeed, Etsy Shop, ShopWired, Volusion, X-Cart, Wix and Squarespace. We’ve listed Merchantmachine’s top three below.

TOP THREE

1 Shopify

Easy to set up and customise, Shopify is out in front based on search volume. Using a range of themes and apps allows you to create a unique online store without coding knowledge, but it’s not the cheapest option. However, its Shopify Payments will give you a head start with accepting credit card payments. There’s no limit on the number of products and you have full website capability with blog using your own domain name.

CAUTION: fees can mount up and if you change your mind, migrating to another platform isn’t easy.

2 EKM

Advantages are similar to Shopify but EKM provides e-commerce from a UK perspective. An all-in-one platform that uses your own domain name and makes payments easy, claiming to provide for more than 80,000 businesses. The big appeal is its UK support including an account manager to help things run smoothly, upfront pricing, plus a free trial and hosting included.

CAUTION: transaction fees and pricing plans are not the cheapest, and subject to VAT.

3 BigCommerce

Different solutions for different types of business including, for small businesses, a platform for increasing sales using a new visual merchandising tool. Fully hosted all-in-one solution with no transaction fees, easy to set up with a launch guide, plus useful channel management to sell direct on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, and Google Shopping.

CAUTION: pricing is tied to sales volume, limited free themes, high integrated payment charges (but third party options can be used).

Source: merchantmachine.co.uk October 2020. BRM supplies this information in good faith and cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies.

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