An ecommerce platform should enable you to design, build, maintain and grow an online store that fulfils your ambitions. There are plenty of options when it comes to making your choice of platform, but which platforms are the easiest to use?
Ease of use is an important factor to consider. If you haven’t got advanced developer skills, you don’t want this to prevent you from building and launching your own site. But at the same time, you should consider the performance of your platform, because that will affect the customer experience.
Here, we compare ecommerce platforms, based on how user-friendly they are.
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Magento has a strong core framework and is scalable. Large brands favour it for its robustness and the fact that it can meet quite complex retail requirements.
It’s an open-source platform, making it highly customisable, which suits plenty of retailers at mid-tier or enterprise level.
The most widely-used version of Magento is its Community Edition (CE). This is free to download. But Magento is also self-hosted, so you would need to install it on your own domain, hosted through another service.
Also, because Magento is open-sourced, it doesn’t come with much in the way of technical support, which could mean you face a pretty steep learning curve.
What it boils down to is that Magento presents lots of potential to develop and customise your own online store, providing you know what you’re doing technically from the start.
One option is to hire a designer and a developer to maximise the potential of Magento for you.
There is also the option of choosing the Magento Commerce version of the platform. This you have to pay for, but it does have more out-of-the-box features and support levels.
Ease of use verdict: a versatile, powerful platform, but not for the beginner or non-technical user.
Shopify is a hosted, cloud-based ecommerce platform. It’s scalable and customisable.
When you sign up to Shopify, the platform takes you through a step by step process, getting you to provide the necessary information to help the platform optimise your store from the start.
As a platform, Shopify immediately feels more user-friendly and technically less daunting than Magento.
This is one reason why plenty of startup entrepreneurs and small retailers favour it, as well as enterprise users.
And like Magento, it comes in two versions:
Shopify Basic, and
The basic version is the most widely-used, while Shopify Plus has more of an appeal to high-volume retailers requiring more customisation, support and better reporting.
Shopify is quick and easy to set up, and has a wide range of plugin apps you can integrate into it to add to its functionality. This can add to your costs, however.
There are basic levels of support for the Basic version, but you may find this closed-source platform restrictive when it comes to future development of your store.
Ease of use verdict: a good platform to get you off to a flying start, but can incur extra costs as your business develops.
Like Magento, WooCommerce is an open source platform, and it’s self-hosted, so you’ll need to arrange your own hosting and domain to use it.
The other important factor here is that WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. This means, to build your ecommerce site, you’ll first need to use WordPress to do it. Then you add ecommerce functionality to it with WooCommerce.
Because WooCommerce is WordPress based, you can take advantage of the numerous themes WordPress provides for ecommerce site design. This makes it customisable and scalable.
Ecommerce sites with a focus on content creation can benefit from WooCommerce in particular.
But this doesn’t make it especially user-friendly if you’re not a website designer or developer. It’s relatively easy to get started, but there’s limited online support available. Therefore, you may need more than rudimentary technical expertise to launch it effectively.
At a basic level, WooCommerce is free, but you’re likely to end up spending on plugin extras as your site develops. It’s not going to be the first choice of larger-scale online retailers with bigger ambitions.
Ease of use verdict: as with WordPress, getting the most out of WooCommerce requires some technical expertise in design and development.
BigCommerce is a cloud-based ecommerce platform, and, like Shopify, you sign up for it, rather than download and install yourself.
Setting up BigCommerce is pretty straightforward, with additional questions that lead you into the dashboard, to help you customise your online store.
It has a good, intuitive interface, and plenty of built-in, instantly accessible features.
For the non-technical user, BigCommerce is helpful in designing, developing and launching a site. And it does have the option for more tech-savvy users to tweak the HTML and CSS of its templates.
However, its degree of functionality also depends on how much you’re willing to pay. BigCommerce offers a Standard plan, but also Plus, Pro and Enterprise plans, for more ambitious online retailers.
Adjusting store designs can be a bit more cumbersome than using Shopify, but overall its management is both extensive and clear.
Ease of use verdict: good for the ecommerce beginner, with options for more experienced users, or more ambitious retail plans.
While not offering the kind of instant name-recognition of more longstanding ecommerce platforms, Aero does provide a functionally streamlined and expert out-of-the-box ecommerce solution.
It comes in a single, high-performance version, and it’s ideal for agencies looking to provide nimble and versatile solutions to their ecommerce clients.
For this reason, Aero provides open source accessibility to registered agencies, along with full technical support.
Retailers can benefit from this support too, through Aero agencies.
From a plug-and-play perspective, the Aero ecommerce platform is a more technically-demanding solution, but it balances this out with a core functionality that provides a strong ecommerce foundation.
Aero is lightning fast, has lean running costs and offers agencies various themes, along with the capability to craft and customise their own.
Smaller ecommerce retailers with more basic requirements might not find Aero fits in with a more DIY approach, but for the professional online store with a clear strategy, it offers a clear route to growth.
Ease of use verdict: Aero is more suitable for agencies and dedicated retailers than smaller, self-driven users. For those serious about ecommerce, its sheer performance makes Aero a standout option.
Want to learn more about building your next site on the Aero platform? Get in touch today.