Choosing the right platform is essential to the success of any ecommerce business, and it goes without saying that not all platforms are created equal, so here is a quick run through your options, what to look for in a platform and what to avoid.

Assuming you are not in the market for the big enterprise class systems and are looking in the small to medium sized business range then there are essentially three routes to go: Open source, Proprietary & DIY / Self Service

Open source / Community:

Examples are Magento, OSCommerce, Zencart, CRE Loaded, etc. There are many others but the main criteria is they are ‘Open’ meaning the code is available to everyone to use and develop on. As a result there are many options, plug-ins and extensions for them. Another important point is there are usually a myriad of designers and developers who know these 'open' systems. 

Proprietary Systems:

These fall into two categories; Small to medium size platforms that are generally developed in-house by a web development company and used exclusively for their own clients, and, big, enterprise class systems that come at a hefty price.

While many of these in-house platforms are perfectly good at what they do there are a number of disadvantages to be aware of.

  • Propriety systems are by their nature ‘closed’, meaning there is no third parties developing extensions for it, so your list of features and functionality is a lot more limited. If you need additional functionality it will have to be written for you.
  • You will be locked in to using one system and, possibly, one development company for your online business, you can’t move your business elsewhere, so if you fall out with them your stuck.
  • They tend to be more expensive in terms of updating and support.


DIY / Self Service

These have become popular with smaller 'owner operated' businesses and, assuming you have some technical skill, are a good way of dipping your toe in the water. With these it is possible to start selling online for very little, however be prepared to roll up the sleeves and burn the ‘midnight oil’ as there is quite a learning curve to be undertaken. Also don't expect these type of services to do anything fancy like multi-optioned products in three currencies with tiered pricing. 

The two most popular, at the moment, are Volusion and MagentoGo.

Using a development agency

For most small to medium enterprises the best route to go is to use an ecommerce development company to build a new ecommerce website. A company with experience can bring more to the table than just the 'nuts & bolts'. They can help you with the myriad of different elements that need to come together to build a succussful online business.

Of all the ecommerce platforms on offer we think Magento is by far the best... yes... I know... I know... we would say that... but let me explain why...

Magento is a very fully featured and powerful platform, easy for you to get to grips with initially and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of ‘extensions’ developed by third parties to do pretty much anything you want. It can even extend right up to ‘Enterprise’ level if your business goes stellar.




More information on Magento here.

You can Get a QUOTE for your new ecommerce site here.

You can try Magento Go FREE for 30 days here …. and, if you get stuck, we can also offer advice and support.