How to Choose a CMS Platform for Creating an Online Business
To help you make a decision, we will look at the features of a number of popular platforms that are most popular in the development of online stores. Some of them are paid engines, and some are free (open source). In this article we will look at free CMS.
In addition to good prices, product range and a number of other factors, the quality of the technical implementation of the site also influences the success of the online store, namely the available functionality and the ability to fine-tune.
A critical factor in the success of e-commerce is the choice of CMS. On what to stop: the simplest solution to start quickly, or deploy a complex and resource-demanding platform with a claim to an online supermarket? Or maybe there is some optimal solution, the golden mean? In this variety it is easy to get lost.
After the launch and at the initial stages of business development in online trading, it seems that the main thing is to make sales and get the first customers. But after the sales flow becomes stable, and the quantity of goods and attendance will begin to grow, you may face a number of technical limitations. Then comes the understanding that the right choice of CMS for an online store, in fact, is far from the last importance for the success of the project as a whole.
After a few months it becomes clear that the sales ceiling has been reached, and in order to move on, it is necessary to expand the range. And to reach a new level of development and customer service – significantly refine technical functionality.
If you initially chose the wrong script online store, not ready for scaling and loads, this task will cost the owner of the business a lot of money. At the same time, in some cases, the implementation of the set goals may be completely unworkable. This means that you have to start everything from scratch.
A similar situation is also the case if a self-written engine is used as a CMS for an online store. Such a development by default will cost several times more, even in comparison with a paid “box” system. No less expensive will be the cost of support, maintenance, permanent bug fixes, etc. In addition, in case of modifications, you will often have to spend the budget on implementing the capabilities that are available in the ready systems by default.
I think you already understood what the wrong choice of a technical platform for starting a business can turn out for a business owner. That’s what criteria should be guided when choosing a CMS for an online store.
Patterns of design.
This is a kind of face of your online store, and therefore, this issue must be given the highest priority. In many ways, trust in the seller also depends on this, because the potential buyer evaluates the site, primarily from the visual side. The more paid and free themes available for selection, the more chances to make an online store that will look exactly the way you would like. It should be understood that the same adaptive design has already become a necessity.
Catalog and card of goods.
These are the most important components of the online store, and therefore, when analyzing the engine for future use, this must be given priority. Adding products must be simple, and managing the product catalog is flexible and understandable. It should be possible to customize various attributes, inferring additional characteristics, for example, discounts, etc. Here is a sample of how a good quality product page looks:
Similarly, in relation to the product catalog, you need to pay attention to the ability to control the display of the list of goods and their sorting by using different filters. For example, it can be sorting by price, date of receipt, separate technical characteristics. Such functionality on the part of the user is especially in demand.
Ways of delivery and payment.
Different people have different preferences, and what is convenient for one person will be inconvenient for another. Therefore, the owner of the online store must provide their customers with a choice between different options for delivery and payment. For example, a resident of a large city will approach a method using a courier and cash, but a buyer who lives in the outback will give preference to mail and cash on delivery. Also you need to remember about such an option as the final recount of the purchase price in the basket taking into account the price of delivery. The client must see how much he will pay after the fact.
In addition to the above points, the functionality of the engine for the online store can include a very large list of prospects. Of course, not all of them are critically important, but some directly affect usability, conversion and other factors on which profit depends. This includes the removal of related and recently viewed products, sales hits and novelties, the formation of product sets, the management of orders and customer data, a wish list, flexible discounts, etc.
The cost of maintenance.
This point usually remains unobvious until the business owner is faced with the negative aspects that are associated with it. Regardless of whether you are using a paid CMS for an online store or open source, sooner or later you will need to implement various additional works. And their cost can vary greatly depending on the engine. Usually for a popular system with a high-quality architecture, it is not only easier to find a specialist, but the price of work will be more affordable, as it is dictated by the market.
Free platforms for the online store
There are quite a few available CMS for the online store. At the same time, some of them are already outdated both morally and in terms of technologies, and some are not supported even by the developers themselves. Therefore, we decided to consider the characteristics of those who are in the top three
Despite the fact that the developers of systems are bribed with the promised functionality, technical support and other buns, open-source CMS for the online store is equally popular. The fact is that many of them offer functional, which covers 90% of the needs of a typical online store, and refinements in most cases are of an individual nature, with these tasks are perfectly handled by specialists of the web agency. In this case, there is not much use from the modules available in the basic assembly. The most popular free engines for online stores are Magento, PrestaShop and Opencart.
One of the most popular CMS for online stores in the US and other Western markets. One of Magento’s key advantages is the large number of possible templates, plug-ins and other extensions that greatly simplify the addition of new functionality. True, most of them are paid.
Features of Magento:
- The developed platform with the big functionality and wide possibilities of adjustment;
- A large number of available extensions in the marketplace both paid and free;
- The scalability potential allows you not to be afraid of possible problems when developing an online store in the future;
- For high performance and speed, you need a dedicated server.
CMS with open source code, which, due to its flexibility, is actively used in the development of online stores of various levels. At the moment, the creators of PrestaShop have integrated into the system more than 300 functions to solve a variety of business tasks. Virtually everything needed is already available free of charge, and non-standard individual needs are addressed through third-party extensions or additional work.
This engine is a European development and according to the data of Wikipedia the number of stores created on this CMS has exceeded 250 thousand!
Features of PrestaShop:
- A large number of built-in functionality, which is more than enough for most online stores;
- A lot of modern design templates, adapted for use on mobile devices, most of which are really high-quality;
- High speed of work even with a large catalog of products with tens of thousands of products;
- The ability to scale from a small online store to a large online supermarket;
- The cost of some modules is higher than the average (60-70 euros), so in some cases it is more profitable to order modifications than to buy a ready-made solution.
PrestaShop is well suited for those owners of online stores who want a project “for themselves”, with extensive basic functionality, modern appearance and flexible management.
One of the easiest to manage engines for online stores. The main factor is the ease of mastering the admin panel, the ease of adding and managing goods. True, the disadvantages of OpenCart. Simplicity of start turns out the expenses connected with necessity of constant completions and correction of errors. Web agency specialize in ecommerce solution, responsive web design, custom web development and creation of online shops on different CMS platforms, the development of individual software, servises and etc. It can help you with the solution of current tasks and improvements.
Features of OpenCart:
- Ease of management of the online store by the user;
- A lot of plug-ins, both paid and free;
- The system itself is simple and “lightweight”, without problems will work on virtual hosting;
- Low cost of additional work, since there are many specialists working with this system;
- Design templates are usually adapted to a specific version of the engine;
- A large number of duplicate pages that are generated by the engine is one of its main drawbacks.
In general, this option is only for small and limited in terms of functional sites. If you need to develop an online store running OpenCart will require a lot of refinements and the complexity of scaling will be a key problem.
Which CMS for an online store is better?
In general, each of the engines is good in its own way, and when choosing you need to build on the specific requirements of your business. It is necessary to take into account the specifics of trade, available resources and the planned development strategy. Otherwise, the wrong initial choice will result in loss of time and money in the future.
The peculiarity of working with free CMS is that if you want you can download and install any of the open-source engines to try it out in the work. But a person without appropriate technical competencies to make the choice of the engine for the online store will not be easy. Therefore, if you have such questions, and you do not know what to stop at, please contact web agency specialists, and they will certainly help you make the right decision.