No matter which type of e-commerce site you plan to build, the first thing you need is an eCommerce platform to help you create the best eCommerce store.
There are three main types of eCommerce platforms on the market:
- Headless commerce.
Each of them provides you with a toolkit for creating an online store: page builder, checkout page, payment gateway integrations, and more. The difference between those eCommerce platforms lies in the levels of:
- In-built feature set.
SaaS platforms offer an out-of-the-box eCommerce store design experience. You can design a store using a drag-and-drop visual editor in several hours, though the tradeoff is limited customization and the incapacity to add custom features.
Open source platforms are like a blank canvas that, with enough time and effort, can be turned into any kind of eCommerce website. However, you are creating everything from scratch, which means having a coder and a designer on call.
Headless commerce platforms are built with flexibility in mind, allowing you to create differentiated shopping experiences anywhere, with a powerful commerce engine on the backend. Unlike other eCommerce options, with headless commerce, the front end is separated from the back end, allowing you to change your platform at any time. However, a more complicated process does come with additional systems needed.
You can choose between:
- Headless commerce and Open SaaS platforms such as Big Commerce.
- SaaS platforms like Shopify, which does have a headless commerce offering, though with rigid API call per second limits.
- SaaS website builders like Squarespace and Wix.
- Open-source platforms like Magento, which doesn’t have a native theme editor, and Woo Commerce, which is technically an eCommerce plugin.
Such eCommerce solutions won’t limit your design capabilities to create beautiful and unique websites, and you don’t need to build core commerce functionality from the ground up.
No matter which store builder you choose to start up with, it is important to make sure that your top pick has the following features:
1. Mobile responsive.
Mobile responsiveness is critical to the success of an eCommerce website. More than 46% of consumers complete their entire purchase process (from research to purchase) on smartphones, with even around 75% admitting that they abandon sites that aren’t optimized for mobile. A responsive eCommerce platform can ensure that visitors from all sorts of devices have an equally great on-site experience — without any design constraints.
BigCommerce is a leading eCommerce platform for building a beautiful mobile store, tailored to increase mobile sales without any additional effort. With our platform, users get:
- Responsive themes.
- Images sized and served for mobile.
- Mobile pages built for higher performance and engagement.
2. Customization opportunities.
“Beauty” is a highly subjective assessment. However, when it comes to web design, “good looks” usually mean a convenient layout, aesthetically pleasing typography and iconography, crisp visuals, and other on-site design elements that differentiate your store from others.
If your eCommerce platform lacks customization features and beautiful ready-to-use templates, you are stuck with using the same mold as hundreds of other stores, with little room to show how your brand stands apart.
With Big Commerce, organizations can:
- Completely customize their website with our intuitive visual editor, Page Builder.
- Drive mobile sales with responsive templates.
- Build your site half of the time using modern development tools.
- Deliver a personalized, engaging shopping experience.
- Connect with a global network of professional website design experts.
3. User-friendly site navigation.
Navigation is an umbrella term for all the UI elements users can use to reach specific information on your website. These include a header navigation menu, product category pages, filters, on-site search, and footers. Suppose an eCommerce platform constrains your ability to create custom navigation paths. In that case, you’ll end up with a pretty but dysfunctional website few customers will want to use, and your conversion rate will suffer for it.
A quality, the simple-to-use site can make a world of difference between a customer browsing and a customer purchasing. Big Commerce’s simple, intuitive platform design lets customers check out on any device comfortably without distractions. By simplifying the online shopping experience, we make a once difficult process easy.
4. Provides a compelling user experience.
Delight prompts consumers to complete their purchases and then shop some more. What ignites that sense of delight and takes a brand to the next level? The best marketing tools in the world won’t help if your site leaves them wanting.
The solution? A well-thought-out user experience (UX).
UX plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your website is not only functional but intuitive, reliable, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. These factors increase the pleasurability of interacting with the site and make browsing a more pleasant experience.
Think of higher conversions, repeat purchases, rave reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations. These are significant and can make the difference between the growth and decline of a company.
How do you determine if your eCommerce platform is UX-friendly? Check out numerous examples of websites built on Big Commerce’s platform. Specifically:
- Assess the basic UI components. Browse the website to understand if you like the navigation, find the layouts effective, and all design elements intuitive and good-looking.
- Scrutinize customization opportunities. The more elements you can tweak, the more unique UX you’ll be able to create as the scale of your operation. Remember: what looks like an OK ‘starter’ practice for a small store may turn into a money-draining liability for larger operations. Make sure that you can toss and add different design elements as your priorities change.
- Measure the website performance. Page load time and overall website speed add or subtract from your UX. Sluggish pages, glitching design elements, and slow-loading product videos often result from a poor CMS/CDN and hosting provider used by the eCommerce platform.
BigCommerce’s eCommerce platform takes all of this into account, allowing organizations to craft a website that provides a compelling — and ultimately rewarding — user experience.