Posted 24 October 2016

Selling Down Under: Comparing Australia’s best eCommerce platforms

Written By : Marco Rosano Visit Marco's LinkedIn Profile

Stuart Gonsal founded Wolf in 2014. He presents extensively to industry groups and is on the Advisory Committee for Swinburne University’s Masters of Commerce (International Business).

There are a whole lot of e-commerce companies out there.  Companies that are vying for business, just like you are.

When it comes to choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business, it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Look at where your business is now, and where you think it will be in the future, and choose a platform that can go all the way on that journey with you, and not leave you high and dry on the side of the road to online business success.

First things to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform

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When it comes to comparing e-commerce platforms, it pays to consider time, money, security and support. If you’re a small business doing long hours, you need something that doesn’t require you to spend mega-bucks or mega-hours on it. You need a fool-proof system with good structural and technical support and iron-clad security for online payments and details. Remember, what you can’t do in-house, you’ll have to pay to outsource, so factor those costings in.

Make it integrate

Don’t waste money on a solution that doesn’t integrate seamlessly with your existing systems. Choose a platform that fits in and addresses your customers’ needs. Do you want your online inventory to update as you sell in-store? Do you have an active community that likes to share product reviews? Consider every strand of activity and make sure your chosen system can optimise each element.  

Open source or out of the box?

With e-commerce platforms in Australia (and internationally), you’ll hear a lot of talk about ‘open source’ versus ‘closed source’ systems.

Open source basically means the source code is openly available and able to be modified to fit your needs. Using a common open source technology usually means you’re more easily able to hire in-house or move to another developer. Their also tends to be a large community of programmers creating plugins and extensions to use with your online store.

Closed source or proprietary means you’re getting something more out of the box. While these platforms are often easy to set-up, use and manage they lack the flexibility your business may need once it’s growing.

Here at Wolf Interactive, we want to help Australian businesses find the right e-commerce platform for them. We’re fans of flexibility and we work with unique businesses, which is why we favour open source platforms for their bespoke nature. We’ve worked with a lot of different systems, so here are our recommended favourites for you to consider.  

Big business: Magento

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Magento is the most popular commerce platform in the world and, for us, the leading solution for growth businesses who want great design, functionality, flexibility and future-proofing.

Magento is not a budget option. This is a big, powerful, open source platform that requires some muscle, which is why we are a recognised partner. While it’s user-friendly and you can download a free trial, set up and customisation costs are high, and hosting costs can increase to meet upswings in product ranges and site traffic, but it’s worth it for large businesses and we can certainly help you get your brand growing with it. It’s great for extensions, and its flexibility means it can bend with changing consumer behaviour to help your business stay ahead of the curve.  Search engines love Magento (and so does our Melbourne SEO team) which means you can rest-assured that sales will come through the door.

Magento offers a host of products specifically designed to meet business or industry needs, so the extra detail and bespoke functionality can make your business a sophisticated market leader.

Need help with your next Magento project? Learn more about Magento development at Wolf Interactive.

Mid-range: BigCommerce

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Recently rebranded and upgraded to offer a host of new integrations and features, this out-of-the-box Australian e-commerce platform is perfect for those who are beyond start-up status but not quite a mega business needing Magento yet.

It’s easy to use with a variety of themes that can be customised. It’s got great customer support, good social media capability, and it’s nice and agile for adding products or information.

Not so small: OsCommerce

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This popular open source platform is not quite suitable for start-ups who lack tech savviness, but is perfect for a slightly more established small business. They utilise an enormous community of store owners, developers and service providers to provide a flexible platform with thousands of free add-ons available for your specific business needs.  

Branching out: WooCommerce

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If you’ve ever used the mightily popular, WYSIWYG WordPress, WooCommerce is a free plug-in that you can add to your WordPress site to start your e-commerce adventure. It’s a little clunky as it’s a plug-in, and WordPress isn’t an e-commerce site per se, but if you have a small range of products to showcase, this is a low-cost, low-intervention option, well serviced for SEO and pretty flexible, although regular updates are required.  

Established stores: Zencart Australia

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If you already have a Zencart business, Adelaide-based Zencart Australia can provide support and enhancement of your Zencart site.  Affordable and fast, they can improve or modify your existing Zencart site to address changing needs, and can also offer offsite backup of your Zencart site so you’re never at the mercy of an unexpected collapse.

Start ups: Shopify

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This user-friendly Australian platform is perfect for start-ups. It’s easy to use and set up, although it’s closed source so it’s not overly scalable and has limited extensions and plug-ins, although it comes with a high level of tech support – perfect for all those beginner questions.  With a suite of stylish templates, good analytics and blog capabilities, it’s ideal for small businesses just starting out.  
Ready to push your brand to the next level? Talk to us at Wolf Interactive about the range of customisable e-commerce options we can offer you.

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