Online shopping is popular in South Africa and this trend is only going to grow over the next few years. According to Euromonitor, South African online retail growth sat between 20-35% in 2018 and in 2019, that growth continues with South Africa leading the channel in internet retail.
The market is steadily growing as consumers recognise the benefits of online shopping from the comfort of their homes. Today, more and more companies are taking their ideas online and engaging with their customers in the virtual world.
But to truly deliver what customers want when it comes to an immersive and accessible online retail experience, you need to invest in a reliable ecommerce platform that provides you with a solid business foundation.
There are plenty of ecommerce platforms and most of them have great reviews from experts and customers alike, so which one do you choose?
Here are the top four ecommerce platforms measured by ease of use, value for money, customisation tools, support and payment processing capabilities.
Every one of these platforms is excellent at what they do, but they all have such different approaches to cost, features and ecommerce capabilities that they will suit different business types and personalities.
Shopify is a well-designed and easy to use platform that includes plenty of features for the expert and beginner alike.
It’s not cheap but the seamless interface, accessible platform and well-designed feature set make it one of the leaders on the market today.
Shopify is easy to navigate and to use – you won’t find the learning curve exhausting or complex – and offers superb customer support.
This platform can get expensive if you start to add on features like its Software-as-a-Service, designer themes, and vast choices of customisation tools. That said, it’s a solid platform with a great reputation for a good reason – it works, it has all the ecommerce features, and it offers you plenty of payment options.
Wix is the nice hat that just fits on your head and looks great.
This ecommerce platform can be easily used by anyone, regardless of their technical expertise. In fact, it feels a lot like Wix has been designed by people who understand how important it is to make the experience as simple and accessible as possible. From the incredibly intuitive website builder, to the built-in analytics and SEO features, every part of the platform is designed to help you build a thriving business in hours.
Wix is a great place to start if you’re a first-time business owner wanting to test the ecommerce waters because it won’t take you forever to set up or eat into your budget.
The platform also comes with some nice customer relationship management tools that allow you to get more attuned to what your customers need.
You can easily download third-party applications to boost your marketing and sales capabilities.
WooCommerce is probably one of the most well-known and used ecommerce platforms on the market. This is for good reason. The platform is incredibly customisable with every option any business could want readily available.
You can do anything from introducing multiple language tools to multiple currency and tax conversions to in-depth analytics and SEO development. However, WooCommerce is definitely not for those who want a plug-and-play solution that just gets on with it.
It takes patience, technical familiarity and a willingness to troubleshoot to make this work. WooCommerce is free to use but it does need a Wordpress site to connect to – it doesn’t help you build a website like Shopify or Wix – and the costs of hosting can become heavy as you add content and flesh out your business.
WooCommerce is one of the first ecommerce platforms to enter the market, so it’s had years to evolve its capabilities. Many companies have developed third-party apps for the platforms that are designed to take an online business in highly specialised directions.
It’s a really solid choice for the business but one that must be taken by someone who has a penchant for tech and terminology.
It’s hard to find fault with BigCommerce except that it’s not supported by any payment gateways in South Africa, which limits your payment methods to PayPal.
The platform has been so well designed that it makes building an online business fun and exciting rather than a tedious exercise in troubleshooting and extra expenses.
Yes, the platform does follow in the ‘extra cost for that feature’ footsteps of Shopify, but it has limited the number of features you have to pay extra for.
Plus, it has given you so many marketing tools that you'll love configuring your website. Using this platform, you can create your own customised domain name, build a secure shopping cart, design a comprehensive product catalogue and build your own website in a matter of hours.
BigCommerce is fun. It’s fun to play around with the features and the design elements and to see how you can learn more about customers with the marketing tools and sales kits.
It’s fun to build a business because the platform is incredibly well designed.
You pay more here than for some of the other solutions on the market, but the features make it worthwhile.
SquareSpace doesn’t have as many features as the competition but the depth of the features on offer is remarkable. The sites you will create will be effortlessly beautiful, the templates elegant, and the overall look and feel quite magnificent.
Design and usability are high up on the list of plusses here, but and here is a but, SquareSpace does need some time dedicated to learning how it works.
It will take some effort to get the best possible results with this platform. The other downside is the payment gateway lock-in. You’re limited to only three platforms which is, well, limiting. However, it’s a gorgeous platform with enough oomph to make it a winner.