For SMEs selling to Western customers, these are the e-commerce platforms to know
E-commerce sales worldwide are reaching staggering heights. In 2017, global e-commerce sales numbered US$22 trillion and are expected to grow to US$27 trillion by 2020. The United States commands roughly US$400 billion of global online sales, and the EU accounts for another US$530 billion.
While e-commerce giants such as Amazon and eBay offer platforms for competitive global sellers to participate in the market, most SMEs are using e-commerce platforms such as Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce, which allow sellers to build beautiful stores from scratch with minimal effort.
Canadian-based Shopify hosts over 500,000 brands
Shopify is a publicly traded company based in Ottowa, Canada, with a total gross merchandise volume exceeding US$45 billion. The e-commerce platform plays host to over 500,000 brands including Tesla Motors, Wikipedia, Mozilla, and Google. Shopify packages range from US$29 to US$299 per month depending on sellers’ needs. Benefits of this platform include Facebook integration and mobile-friendly formats. Downsides to Shopify include an additional fee if sellers choose not to use Shopify’s payment gateway, Shopify Payment. Additionally, some sellers may find leaning Shopify’s coding language, Liquid, an inconvenience.
Brands using Magento include Huawei, Burger King, and Pepe Jeans
Magento is an open source platform with headquarters in Culver City, California. The company was fully-owned by eBay from 2011 to 2015 but has since spun off to be an independent enterprise. This e-commerce platform is hugely popular and offers multilanguage support, boasting brands such as Burger King, Huawei, and Pepe Jeans. Magento offers a free, open source version of its software that’s fully customizable with PHP. It also offers an on-premises enterprise version for larger businesses that includes hosting and extensive technical support. Magento enterprise has a price tag of US$18,000 per year.
Toyota and household goods brand Martha Stewart use BigCommerce
BigCommerce is a privately owned company with headquarters in San Francisco, California, and additional offices in Austin, Texas and Sydney, Australia. The company was founded by two Australian brothers and demonstrates a commitment to supporting SMEs worldwide. Similar to Magento, BigCommerce offers an introductory version and an enterprise version for higher-volume sellers. The company boasts 55,000 online stores and features such as no transaction fees and integration with Facebook, Google and eBay shopping sites. A downside of the platform is that for sellers hoping to have a multiplatform store that includes Amazon, BigCommerce doesn’t offer the extensive features of its competitors.
WooCommerce enjoys huge success thanks to WordPress
WooCommerce is hugely popular with online sellers for one reason: it’s a free WordPress plugin. Riding off the success of the WordPress blog platform, WooCommerce boasts 380,000 brands running on an estimated 30% of e-commerce sites as of 2016. WooCommerce features a great shopping cart and a secure payment gateway, but sellers who choose the platform will need to stick with WordPress as they grow. For SMEs who plan extensive operations, this may become a limiting factor.
Some platforms are better than others for Chinese sellers
As of the beginning of 2018, the statistics of websites using the above e-commerce platforms were: Shopify, Shopify Product Reviews, and MailChimp for Shopify (13%); WooCommerce and WooCommerce Checkout (10%); Magento and Magento Enterprise (11%); BigCommerce (1%). These numbers reflect an important point – that sellers should review all the available features of an e-commerce platform and select those that work best for their operations.
For Chinese sellers, platforms that offer multilingual support and SSL certification are the best option. Each of the platforms above offers these features with varying price structures. Additionally, sellers should have an idea of how large they’d like to grow their business. If there’s a five-figure budget in the future and a seller wants to open a store on Amazon, a more extensive, fully customizable, software-based platform is preferable, such as Magento Enterprise or BigCommerce Enterprise.
Regardless of initial budget, the most important thing for sellers is to get their business off the ground with an affordable solution scaled to their needs. The opportunity offered by cross-border e-commerce is happening now, and SMEs should make moves to hop on board.
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