User buying behaviour changes over time and we have seen a sharp increase in buying online, figures have shown that in 2015 over £156 billion in sales were generated in Europe and £52 billion of that was in the UK alone.

With all of those sales set to rise and more businesses selling online what is the best options to start an e-commerce website.

E-commerce Platforms

There are wide range of platforms to choose from when setting up an online store. Platforms can be a simple shop with a shopping cart and payment system through to a complex system for large businesses.

At the moment there are popular platforms available that are used widely within the industry in the UK alone.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce currently is used by 34% of online stores in the UK to build their website. WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress which adds E-commerce functionality. WooCommerce comes with basic features out of the box ready for a business to sell online, but there are further extensions and plugins available to meet your business requirements. We use WooCommerce at raindrop as it provides clients a great platform and an easy system to manage.

Magento

Magento currently is used by 11% of online stores in the UK to build their website. Magento is an open source platform which enables a business to build an e-commerce website from scratch, there is two different options available community and enterprise, Magento also has a store to help expand your website to meet your requirements.

Shopify

Shopify currently is used by 5% of online stores in the UK to build their website. Shopify is a SaaS (Software as a service) system. They offer themes and extensions for a business to build an online store; the focus of the software is to build and manage online stores with ease.

Squarespace Commerce

Squarespace Commerce is used by 3% of online stores in the UK to build their website, again Squarespace is an SaaS system. Squarespace offers everything out of the box to get started but customisation could be limited compared to other platforms.
(Statistics provided by Builtwith)

Building an E-commerce website

When building an e-commerce store you need to account for both start up costs and the maintenance cost required to owning and managing an e-commerce website.

As a guide the following areas will need accounting for:

  • Hosting- including domain and SSL certificates.
  • Design – including wireframes and UX.
  • Development – including imagery, copywriting
  • Testing
  • Launch – including documentation and training
  • Post Launch – Transaction fees, optimisation and further development if required.

Each business requirements will always be different as each business will have different levels of complexity so a true cost to build will vary.

To build an e-commerce store there will always be a need for investment to make the project a success but always keep in mind the maintenance and running costs as you will need to plan around 3-10% of revenue generated will be need to be spent on maintenance.

Each platform offers varied functionality and complexity and choosing this completely depends on the business requirements and future requirements, either way always keep in mind that the best user experience you can provide should be at the forefront of your online store.