Sale by Internet
As it is given in the latest report on e-commerce, up to 73% of internet users do shopping on-line. Therefore more and more companies decide to go online. It’s profitable for those, who want to enhance the number of recipients, but also for people, who have just started their adventure with sale - the beginning of online business is much easier, because you don’t have to rent a commercial property or hire employees.
You only have to buy a domain and choose a system, on which your online store will be based. Even if it sounds easy, it's a very difficult decision which will influence your future in E-commerce. The biggest dilemma is usually the choice between Saas and Open Source solutions. It’s worth considering pros and cons of both models, so you can decide which one will be better for your business.
Saas online store
The opening of an online store in Saas model (software as a service) is rather easy. After the settlement of subscription fee, you gain access to the platform of your e-store. All you have to do is to enter your company’s data, add products and you can start the sale. The configuration in Saas systems is really easy and doesn't demand any technical knowledge. Thanks to ready-made solutions you can integrate your online store with other portals and courier companies. The whole software of an online store is placed on the side of its distributor, so you don’t have to care about any installations, securities or system update - it’s all provided within the subscription.
Fixed structure of Saas system gives comfortable online store service, however it carries a range of limitations. Firstly, Saas solutions reduce the possibility of customising the structure and layout of an online store, so your e-store will be similar to many other online stores. Of course programmers working for the software’s distributor may create individual graphic design for you, but it’s rather expensive. Another drawback is minimal or no impact on SEO optimisation, which means that you don’t have any influence on code structure and what follows natural positioning of your online store. For some people it’s also inconvenient to regularly pay the subscription, which can rise adequately to sales volume, or that the distributor of a software on which the store is based can suddenly raise the value of subscription or provision. The online store based on Saas may also totally disappear if the distributor's platform will be closed.
Let’s look closer at the most popular Saas online store systems, which are Shoper and Shopify.
Many users decide for Shoplo because of the lack of additional costs, intuitive administration panel, option of running multilingual stores and the possibility of natural positioning in a web browser. Shoplo has a good opinion also thanks to the fact that supplementary services and possibilities reduce the need of hiring a programmer. Shoplo gives an interesting possibility of exploring abandoned carts, thanks to which you may get to customers who were interested in your offer, but for some reason resigned from ordering products. Shoplo system allows on shopping online as a guest or as a registered user (after creating an account on your website). What’s crucial you may generate advanced raptors, which contain information, such as a sales profile based on available variants, localisation or a source of traffic. What’s more, Shoplo permits sale of digital items or payments in a form of subscription. The amount of possible integration in Shoper is comparable with Shopify (various payment systems, courier companies, accounting systems, social media and many others). On the other hand its opponents complain about the high price of implementing individual solutions (if it’s possible at all) and the lack of proper documentation, which sometimes complicates the use of the system.
The users of this platform recommend it for its wide choice of graphic templates, which enhance the possibility of design’s personalisation and the rapidity of its functioning. Shopify also provides solid technical support and wide choice of applications, which are already adjusted to Shopify. Shopify allows for using your own domain, selling on Facebook or in a store (POS). Several dozens of possible languages and payment systems in Shopify will definitely help you to find the best options for you. Another interesting addition to this system are Shopify mobile app, creator of discounts, coupons, gift cards or complete blogging platform. The main disadvantages of this system are high costs of subscription, additional provisions for extra possibilities, like different payment systems and demand of technical knowledge, necessary for the development of our online store.
Open Source online store
If you want to open an online store in the Open Source system you just have to open e-store software on the distributor's website or install it on a server. In Open Source there’s no initial or subscription charge, this solution is free and available for everybody. The majority of platforms also offer many free and paid templates. What is more, the possibilities of personalisation and customisation of an online store are limitless - having access to source code you can adjust the structure and design of your online store to all your needs. Open source model also allows for SEO optimisation.
However all of the functions mentioned above demand programming knowledge, so if you don’t have it, you will need the help of a technician, who will buy a domain, configure your online store, implement required functions, actualise the system or provide technical support in case of a breakdown. Despite the fact that running a store in the Open Store system seems a bit complicated and relatively more expensive, because of the need of hiring a programmer, it may be much more profitable for your business.
Open Source not only does not impose any restrictions on the functioning and the appearance of your online store, but also thanks to the ability of SEO and Google Ads optimisation you have an actual impact on increasing the number of potential customers. The most popular Open Source systems for online stores are WooCommerce, PrestaShop i Magento.
It’s WordPress’ plugin, which thanks to its intuitive structure allows easy online sales together with the running company’s blog. The system enables comparatively simple implementation of individual design and functions. WooCommerce permits adding products of distinct attributes and variants, creating products’ descriptions and galleries, as well as generating discount coupons or various shipping classes. Additionally many (usually free) plugins give the possibility of easy configuration and expansion of an online store. However these plugins are created by third parties, this is why you should always verify their author. Of course the implementation of individual, advanced functions may be complicated and costly, but these refer to all of the other available systems.
The platform is known for its flexibility, high functionality and good technical support. PrestaShop is the best for small and medium online stores, but it also gives the opportunity of their expansion. It contains for example B2B panel, complaint module or function of running multistore. Prestashop is quite more advanced and more expansive than WooCommerce. It allows the configuration of products presentation, generation of different attributes’ combination, filtering, sortation or creation of pages for distinct categories of your assortment. This system includes more advanced options of managing stock status (in regard to the number or popularity among users), while in WooCommerce we have to pay for them. PrestaShop proposes also interesting ways of increasing sales, such as sending emails to people, who have ceased realisation of the order.
This software is dedicated to big and well-developed companies, because it gives more possibilities of programming, scaling and integration with other systems, but at the same time it demands advanced technical knowledge of programming and structure of Magento. Functions typical for this system are for example easy configuration with ERP system, simple invoicing, multi-level pricing system, adding products to carts on the basis of their SKU or running private sales. While choosing Magento you have to remember that in order to provide the efficient operation of your online store, you will need a large and fast server. If you want to base your store on Magento, you have to think if such a big investment in implementation and expansion of an online store is beneficial for your business. Usually the prices of projects founded on Magento start from £20 000 net and are dedicated to those who have extensive experience in e-commerce.