Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide

Written by Poonam Chandersy

Technical Content Writer

The eCommerce industry was expected to increase by 4.4% but has instead grown by 18.4% over the past year, making eCommerce one of the most profitable and sought-after industries to be associated with. To be a part of this industry and benefit from its growth, the next steps involve selecting the right eCommerce platform for your business or upgrading your current platform to ensure a maximum return on investment. If you’re looking to upgrade your platform, our recommendations at Royal Cyber for each of these architectures include:

Headless:

Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide

Semi-Headless:

Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide

Monolith:

Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide
Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform: The Ultimate Guide

Fortunately, there are other options to choose from in the market, even though finding the perfect platform may prove to be a difficult task. To make this easier, we have put together a guide that will help to compare some of the top and most popular eCommerce development platforms and technologies.

Why Does Choosing the Best eCommerce Platform Matter?

Building an eCommerce business involves more work than uploading product listings on the web. The process is like running a physical retail or production facility – the same level of strategic thinking and planning is required to build and run a successful eCommerce business. However, suppose the fundamentals are set right. In that case, one can take advantage of the digital environment to be able to automate and streamline many of the tasks and activities that would require human intervention otherwise.

While choosing the eCommerce platform, it is essential to remember it can dictate the following factors:

  • Growth – How quickly is your business able to grow?
  • Running Costs – How much does it cost to build the eCommerce platform, and what are the maintenance and ongoing costs?
  • Customer Success – How does the ideal eCommerce platform drive the customer’s needs in sync with the business?
  • Market Trend – Is your eCommerce platform equipped with the latest technologies?
  • Feedback Mechanism – Does the platform have built-in analytics to help with resource utilization?
  • Objectives – How can the right eCommerce platform enable you to deliver a service that matches the business objectives?
  • Future Ready Is the eCommerce platform compatible with next-gen technologies?

Which is the Best eCommerce Platform: Does it Exist?

The short answer is that no one platform works for all. Businesses often select an eCommerce platform based on its popularity, but that is not an ideal selection process.

The best eCommerce platform is the one that successfully delivers the objectives and outcomes that have been set by the business and matches the business’ competitive landscape.

The platform must enable easy accessibility, periodic and hassle-free rollouts that do not disrupt or interfere with the existing platform and adjust at the same pace as the business. It is also essential to note that the eCommerce platform should not demand the niche technical expertise required for implementation. This could pose a barrier to achieving the end goal.

What are the Different Types of eCommerce Implementations?

There are five different types of eCommerce implementations. They include:

  • Build your Platform – This platform requires an internal or external team to build and develop a customized platform. It is best suited for businesses that are niche and have a specific set of needs and requirements that no commercial eCommerce platform can offer
  • Traditional Platform – With this type of platform, you can purchase an upfront annual license fee that can be renewed annually. The IT team and developers are in charge of building and customizing the platform and eventually installing it either on-premise or into the cloud
  • Cloud Platform – Cloud platform is a combination of Traditional and Open-Source eCommerce platforms that are being hosted on cloud platforms. These are legacy platforms hosted on a cloud and require the initial development, customization, maintenance, installation of upgrades. A technical assistant is needed making it like Traditional and Open-source platforms. The differentiating factor being that once everything is set up, this platform then belongs to the creator
  • Open-Source Platform – Similar to the Traditional eCommerce platform, an Open-source platform follows the same development features. The main difference is that no upfront cost is incurred by purchasing a license. For this platform, one must pay for the initial development, implementation, ongoing development, upgrades, and migration

Pros:

  • Get absolute control over website and business with freedom for personalization
  • Host the site on a personal server or machine to build and run the site
  • Avoid hidden costs and recurring charges
  • Same instance can be used for multiple brands and multiple countries
  • Higher scalability and customizability with no privacy concern

Cons:

  • Technical skills required to access and manage the source code
  • Team required to handle platform and technical aspects
  • Free, open-source platforms have limited features; extra modules need to be purchased
  • Good web host necessary for the eCommerce store
  • Site management and admin UI is complex as compared to SaaS-based platforms

Open-Source Platforms:

  • SaaS Platform – eCommerce platforms that provide Software as a Service are built on a single codebase, known for their simplicity of management and swiftness of building eCommerce stores. This platform does not require either a cloud-based hosting provider or a physical server. All members who use this platform experience the same technology for a fixed monthly fee covering server use, maintenance, security, and upgrades.

Pros:

  • No coding knowledge or web hosting is required
  • Sizing, scalability, and redundancy of system is not an issue
  • Server maintenance and platform development is taken care of
  • Technical team is not necessary with the ability to focus on the business
  • Simpler initial pricing structure

Cons:

  • Hidden costs with recurring fees become hefty over an extended period
  • Complete dependence on the vendor for technical customizations as solutions are closed source
  • There is no scope for customizability as all customers share the platform
  • Difficult to manage multi-brands and multi-countries
  • Possibility of Privacy concerns

SaaS-Based Headless Platforms:

Other SaaS-Based Platforms:

Which Architecture is Most Appropriate?

Selecting the correct architecture is a critical and crucial factor for the future of the eCommerce business. There are three main streams:

  • Monolith platform
  • Monolith or business services-based platform exposing features with an API layer allowing a decoupled front-end
  • Microservices based, API first, cloud-native allowing a total headless commerce

Monolith Platform

This platform has dominated the eCommerce space and has an easy integration of different payment methods with advanced features. However, it is impossible to optimize and maintain it in the long run as businesses are bound to the vendors and cannot move away from the existing eCommerce platform technology. While the limitations include high dependability and large consumption of resources such as money and time with a tedious process involved to implement changes and modifications, the advantages of a Monolith platform lie in businesses having access to all advanced features available on the platform.

Examples of such platforms include Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Magento Commerce, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Prestashop.

Microservices-Based Platform

This architecture involves new-generation platforms that can be defined as MACH, which stand for: Microservices, API First, Cloud-native, and Headless. The idea is to be able to provide a complete set of APIs based on different and independent microservices that are deployable in a cloud environment and allow to provide a headless experience – not only on the front end but also for CSR, administration, and other services.

Business Services-Based Platform

Most eCommerce platforms have understood the need to provide a headless UI, thereby refactoring the core features and introducing an API layer. Nowadays, even monolith platforms allow a headless experience; however, it is essential to know that this involves losing the possibility to integrate the main extensions available on the platform’s marketplace. This leads to the question of why going headless is beneficial, to begin with – the answer lies in the possibility of having a multi-channel experience and splitting the development in a clean and decoupled manner, a trend that has been garnering attention lately.

Solutions such as SAP Commerce Cloud, HCL Commerce Platform, Magento Commerce, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and others, are adopting this approach. They allow headless front-end and an eco-system of tools that cover critical requirements such as CMS, OMS, PIM, allowing the implementation of a fast front-end.

Composable Commerce

This is the future of eCommerce as it creates the possibility of incorporating the best of all services such as CMS, Tax calculations, Ratings, Reviews, and much more using API. It can connect headless systems like a puzzle but also combines them to form a unified front end. Integration of different services is faster, controlled, and allows the creation of a coherent and unified front-end with API adoption and smooth back-end flows.

MACH and Composable Commerce platforms are based on the idea to be able to provide the best services across the board. However, they do not offer the best CMS, Payment Service, OMS, or Product Management System but do recommend using the best services in each field. Relevant examples of such new-gen platforms include commercetools, VTEX, Fabric, Elastic Path, Reaction Commerce, and Commerce Layer. In addition, the platforms are developer-friendly with an incredible technology stack as they focus on articles, prices, inventory, contracts, and other such core features.

Monolith Platform

This platform has dominated the eCommerce space and has an easy integration of different payment methods with advanced features. However, it is impossible to optimize and maintain it in the long run as businesses are bound to the vendors and cannot move away from the existing eCommerce platform technology. While the limitations include high dependability and large consumption of resources such as money and time with a tedious process involved to implement changes and modifications, the advantages of a Monolith platform lie in businesses having access to all advanced features available on the platform.

Examples of such platforms include Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Magento Commerce, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Prestashop.

Microservices-Based Platform

This architecture involves new-generation platforms that can be defined as MACH, which stand for: Microservices, API First, Cloud-native, and Headless. The idea is to be able to provide a complete set of APIs based on different and independent microservices that are deployable in a cloud environment and allow to provide a headless experience – not only on the front end but also for CSR, administration, and other services.

Business Services-Based Platform

Most eCommerce platforms have understood the need to provide a headless UI, thereby refactoring the core features and introducing an API layer. Nowadays, even monolith platforms allow a headless experience; however, it is essential to know that this involves losing the possibility to integrate the main extensions available on the platform’s marketplace. This leads to the question of why going headless is beneficial, to begin with – the answer lies in the possibility of having a multi-channel experience and splitting the development in a clean and decoupled manner, a trend that has been garnering attention lately.

Solutions such as SAP Commerce Cloud, HCL Commerce Platform, Magento Commerce, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and others, are adopting this approach. They allow headless front-end and an eco-system of tools that cover critical requirements such as CMS, OMS, PIM, allowing the implementation of a fast front-end.

Composable Commerce

This is the future of eCommerce as it creates the possibility of incorporating the best of all services such as CMS, Tax calculations, Ratings, Reviews, and much more using API. It can connect headless systems like a puzzle but also combines them to form a unified front end. Integration of different services is faster, controlled, and allows the creation of a coherent and unified front-end with API adoption and smooth back-end flows.

MACH and Composable Commerce platforms are based on the idea to be able to provide the best services across the board. However, they do not offer the best CMS, Payment Service, OMS, or Product Management System but do recommend using the best services in each field. Relevant examples of such new-gen platforms include commercetools, VTEX, Fabric, Elastic Path, Reaction Commerce, and Commerce Layer. In addition, the platforms are developer-friendly with an incredible technology stack as they focus on articles, prices, inventory, contracts, and other such core features.

Summary

Eventually, no platform suits all, and having so many options to choose from can get intimidating. Royal Cyber has been associated with the eCommerce industry since the beginning. Our research and development acceleration team can help you move from a Monolith to Headless implementation with a reduced time to market by 2-4 months. We can also guide you to the best platform based on your business model, requirements, strategical plan, target audience, and company vision. These goals can range from increasing revenue, improving customer engagement, or even entering a new market. We work with different solutions and technologies and can run accurate analyses based on specific requirements. Contact us and let us help you choose the platform that best fits your company so you too can benefit from the growing eCommerce industry.