Choosing The Right eCommerce CMS: A Comprehensive Guide

November 27, 2023

Choosing The Right eCommerce CMS: A Comprehensive Guide

Starting an online store from scratch is daunting, but panic is unnecessary. An eCommerce content management system (CMS) is there to help your online venture be smooth sailing. You only need to choose the model that best suits your business needs.

With so many options in the digital landscape, it’s crucial to dig into the matter before making a decision. Factors like cost, customisation features, SEO capabilities, security, and customer support play a vital role in arriving at a decision.

In this article, we’ll expand on the notion of a CMS and its types and critical characteristics to pay attention to when choosing a platform. Also, we’ll look at some famous examples of CMS eCommerce platforms existing on the market.

choosing the righ content management software for ecommerce business
Image credit: Pexels

Key Takeaways on Choosing Right eCommerce CMS

  • Understanding E-commerce CMS: E-commerce CMS serves as the backbone of an online store, streamlining tasks like product display, stock management, and order processing. Think of it as a LEGO kit, assembling elements to build web pages without coding expertise.
  • Types of CMS: Choose between open-source CMS (e.g., WooCommerce, Magento) for customisation and control, or SaaS CMS (e.g., Shopify, BigCommerce) for user-friendliness and hassle-free maintenance with a subscription fee.
  • Ease of Use: Consider the trade-off between user-friendliness and customisation functions. A user-friendly platform may have limitations in customisation and scalability.
  • Core Functionality: Evaluate the essential features and capabilities of an eCommerce CMS, ensuring they align with your business requirements and support future growth.
  • Rules and Permissions: Look for a CMS that allows multiple user roles for different tasks, essential as your eCommerce business expands.
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What Is E-commerce CMS?

A content management system, or CMS for short, is a solid foundation of an online store. It’s a software platform that helps display products, add and edit descriptions, update prices, process orders, and accept payments.

In simple words, you may think of CMS as a LEGO kit, where each piece represents a particular content element or feature. You can assemble the elements to build web pages, just like you snap together LEGO bricks to make a tiny house.

It’s an out-of-the-box solution for individuals with no coding expertise, thanks to user-friendly interfaces, pre-designed templates, and built-in features. These properties streamline the process of setting up and running an online store. 

However, if you’re seeking custom features, smoother mobile UX/UI, or advanced store optimisation, you should rely on a team of experts.

Core functions Of CMS in eCommerce

CMS in eCommerce offers comprehensive solutions to manage an online store. It’s like a dedicated assistant that takes up the burden of dealing with technical matters so you can concentrate on selling goods.

  • Product display: CMS is responsible for product images, writing descriptions, setting prices, and everything a customer needs when deciding what to buy.
  • Stock management: an eCommerce CMS keeps track of all the goods available and records every purchase. It informs when the stock supply decreases, ensuring products are always available to a customer.
  • Shipping and payment processing: CMS for eCommerce website guides the sales cycle thoroughly, from order confirmation to shipping.
  • Personalisation: the system uses the clients’ data, such as their names, contact information, and order history, to offer unique customer experiences. 

Types Of CMS

CMS for eCommerce falls into two major categories according to the features, functionalities, and pricing.

Open-source CMS

It’s a free platform, eliminating the need to pay for installation. An open-source CMS gives complete control over website functionality, meaning users must manage hosting, maintain the server, and install updates on demand. 

It’s highly customisable and offers a wide range of tools to build an online store that fits specific business needs. Some of the best open-source CMS systems for eCommerce include WooCommerce and Magento. To further enhance your eCommerce platform, consider exploring magento integration services, which can streamline various business processes and improve overall efficiency.

If you plan to implement more complex and customised features, you’re bound to ask for support from a team of professional developers. Only experts will help you achieve the desired results. For example, Onilab company readily offers high-quality Magento development service to turn your business goals into a reality.

SaaS CMS

These platforms are designed for users with no technical background. You pay a subscription fee; the provider handles maintenance and security issues in return. 

SaaS (software-as-a-service) model is cloud-based, so no installation is required. The software and relevant information are stored in data centers controlled by third-party providers. Shopify and BigCommerce are well-known examples of SaaS CMS.

Key Points When Deciding On an eCommerce CMS

There are plenty of factors to keep in mind when choosing the best CMS system for eCommerce. Below, you will find some essential ones.

#1: Expenses

Cost is an excellent point to consider. Before deciding on the type of CMS platform, it’s crucial to take into account the upfront and ongoing expenses, such as monthly and transaction fees, additional features, plugins, and modifications.

For instance, an open-source platform has a free setup, which plays in favor of it. However, after taking a closer look, it becomes evident that the open-source solution will require additional expenses on hosting, registering a domain name, and recruiting a team of professionals to add customised features to a website.

#2: Customisability

Choosing a highly customisable platform that seamlessly integrates APIs and plugins is crucial. CMS platforms for eCommerce businesses need to have the right tools to integrate with third-party software. This includes email marketing tools, payment getaways, and CRM systems.

#3: SEO-friendliness

Opting for a CMS eCommerce platform with solid SEO capabilities can boost a website’s visibility, generate more traffic, and ultimately increase revenue. 

When reviewing eCommerce platforms for SEO (search engine optimisation), there are a few factors to take into account:

  • URLs: Selecting search-friendly URLs may help a website rank highly on search engines. It’s better to choose short and readable URLs that contain relevant keywords. 
  • Metadata: Choosing a platform that can easily customise and handle metadata is advisable. Metadata refers to the information that pops up on search engine results pages. It includes title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags.

Adjusting this data will lead to higher click-through rates (CTR). CTR is an essential digital metric that helps improve conversion rates.

#4: Security

Since online stores contain lots of financial and personal information, a CMS for eCommerce must have a robust security mechanism. The platform should regularly provide backups, firewalls, and other safety measures to prevent malware and hacker attacks.

#5: Mobile Adaptability

The percentage of mobile device traffic worldwide for 2015
Screenshot taken on the official Statista website

With mobile comprising nearly half of web traffic worldwide, an eCommerce CMS must adopt a mobile-friendly approach. 

Look for a CMS platform that offers smooth content editing and page management and automatically delivers an excellent user experience through a responsive design. 

#6: Customer Service

It’s better not to diminish the importance of quality customer service. Unpleasant situations, like server downtimes or server crashes, may occur at any moment and prevent customers from reaching a website and making a purchase. Going with a platform that provides technical support 24/7 is a good choice. 

#7: Scalability

As your business expands, it’s wise to pick a CMS that can effortlessly deal with changes and adapt to growing needs. Also, ensure the platform doesn’t charge high fees for offering add-on features and data processing once your business requirements increase.

#8: Ease of Use

If a platform is user-friendly and easy to set up, it will save you time and resources. There’s no need to be tech-savvy to implement the necessary updates and changes. Yet, if you prioritise ease of use, be ready to deal with limited customisation functions, heavy dependence on pre-built templates, and problems with scalability. 

#9: Core Functionality

Core functionalities relate to essential features and capabilities of an eCommerce CMS. They are fundamental for an online store to work efficiently. Find the best platform for your needs. If you expect your business to grow rapidly and don’t want to pay for extra functionality, make sure to choose an alternative that supports additional features and extensions. 

#10: Rules and Permissions

When launching an eCommerce business, having multiple user enablement roles seems unnecessary. However, this feature proves helpful as your company grows and new members join your team. 

Pick a CMS that allows you to authorise individuals to fulfill different tasks on a website. This way, various users can control and access the platform based on the attached responsibilities.

5 Best CMS For eCommerce as of 2023

Shopify

Shopify ecommerce homepage
Screenshot taken on the official Shopify website

Shopify is an all-in-one CMS eCommerce solution offering multiple unique features, like customisable templates, mobile-friendly design, and secure payment getaway. It’s easy to use and set up. Shopify is the best option for startups and small to medium-scale businesses.

Magento (Adobe Commerce)

Magento ecommerce CMS homepage.
Screenshot taken on the official Magento website

Magento is among the best open-source CMS for eCommerce. It provides vast customisation options, robust security features, and scalability. Magento is a good choice for mid and large-scale businesses building a long-lasting professional site.

BigCommerce

Bigcommerce Homepage an ecommerce platorm
Screenshot taken on the official BigCommerce website

This popular eCommerce platform caters to businesses of all sizes. It makes the sales workflow hassle-free due to a reliable combination of features, applications, and integrations. It’s the perfect choice for offline businesses aiming to migrate online or for businesses planning to scale.

WooCommerce (WordPress)

Homepage for WooCommerce

Screenshot taken on the official WordPress website

It’s a famous open-source eCommerce plugin built with WordPress. WooCommerce is one of the most straightforward solutions for developing and managing eCommerce websites on WordPress. It offers essential online commerce tools and numerous free and paid extensions. The platform is more tailored for small-scale businesses, so for larger projects, you may want to consider WooCommerce alternatives.

OpenCart

Homepage for the OpenCart Website
Screenshot taken on the official OpenCart website

OpenCart is a free, open-source eCommerce solution catering to small businesses. With a great deal of extensions and themes, it enables users to create an online store without coding knowledge. The setup process is easy and stress-free. The platform offers an abundance of customised modules and built-in features, including unlimited products, multi-store admin, marketing analytics tools, and more.

Final Word

Choosing among the various options of eCommerce CMSs available on the market can be pretty tough. It’s better to back up the decision-making process by thorough research.

Opting for the best CMS platform for eCommerce should align with your specific business needs. Such critical factors as pricing, security options, integrations, scalability, mobile compatibility, and other CMS characteristics shouldn’t slip your mind either. A good thing would be to check out the real-life experiences of other businesses.

Whether it’s Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, or something else, remember that each solution has its strengths and can be a stepping stone in building a successful online store.

If you fail to make a good choice, you will have to switch to a different platform afterward, which can be an aggravating, time-consuming, and costly experience.

Take your time to evaluate and select the best eCommerce CMS for you that guarantees your customers a smooth and secure shopping experience. Make the right call and embark on a prosperous online venture!

About the Author

Alex Husar is a chief technology officer at Onilab, a web development agency. With almost 10 years of experience and excellent professional skills, Alex hit a home run in the sphere of Magento migration and development. He also coordinates a team of experts dealing with headless commerce and Salesforce projects, applying both his technical expertise and management skills.

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