How to Choose The Right Ecommerce Platform for your Online Storefront


So, you're in the market for a new ecommerce platform?

Whether you’re an established company looking to re-platform or simply “leveling up” from an outdated solution, choosing an ecommerce platform for your online store is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.


Before making the jump to an industry giant or to the platform with the latest flashy feature, it is critical to dive into your retail store’s pain points and goals. Equally, you must distinguish between your must-haves and nice-to-haves, as everything is “necessary” in the early stages. 


Let’s dive into the questions you need to ask ecommerce platforms before you make the leap. 

1) Is your platform hosted?

First things first: what is a hosted ecommerce platform?


A hosted ecommerce platform, like BigCommerce or Shopify, is an all-inclusive solution that allows users to build an online store without the hassle of infrastructure. This means, you, the retailer, do not need to deal with any technical aspects like server configuration or backend development. Because all of the technical details are taken care of for you, you can get your shop up and running relatively quickly and connect integrations seamlessly. 


Conversely, a self-hosted ecommerce platform, like Magento, is a solution that your company is responsible for hosting. Accordingly, these platforms give you complete control over the creation and maintenance of your digital storefront. As such, self-hosted platforms are inexpensive, but do require a lot of development and maintenance time. 


Whether you opt for a hosted or self-hosted solution all depends on your business’ needs and resources. If you are on a strict budget, require a lot of customization, and have the in-house development resources, a self-hosted solution may be right for you. 

Alternatively, if you are looking for a pre-built ecommerce solution that integrates seamlessly with third-party applications and is quick and easy to set up, a hosted solution may be a better fit for you.  

2) What does your app ecosystem look like?

a pie chart showing the distribution for websites using e commerce technology in the united states
Image credit: Net Solutions

Having a platform that integrates with other best-of-breed solutions is extremely important. While all-in-one solutions seem like the most efficient option, many of them actually lack the features and sophistication of industry-leading third-party solutions. 

Instead, we suggest leveraging third-party apps and integrations with other systems to accomplish what you need. For example, Shopify is known for its app ecosystem. Here are just a few third-party integrations that help you optimize your processes:


  • ShipStation

ShipStation is a shipping software that helps ecommerce merchants organize and streamline their order fulfillment processes. From importing your orders to printing labels and shipment tracking, ShipStation integrates with shipping carriers and selling channels to provide the simplest and quickest way to get products to your customers. 


Check out this video to learn how ShipStation works with Duoplane.


  • Duoplane 

Duoplane is a dropship automation solution that makes it easier to grow and manage your ecommerce business. With Duoplane, you can completely automate large parts of your backend processes: order management, catalog updates, invoice payments, and more.

Watch this video to see how Duoplane works in your online store. 

3) What are your checkout and payment options?

When it comes to facilitating a good user experience, a seamless checkout experience is key. Depending on the nature of your shop, you may want a customizable checkout experience and various payment options. 


Shopify, for instance, does not offer any customizations at checkout. If you are looking for a platform that can capture an abandoned cart or offer upsells at checkout, you will want to ensure that your ecommerce platform has those capabilities.


When it comes to payments, we recommend finding a platform that supports multiple payment gateway options. Shopify integrates with a custom solution and popular payment options. Similarly, BigCommerce, has payment options ranging from PayPal to Stripe. Equally, self-hosted platforms like Magento offer similar payment gateways with PayPal and 

4) What does your developer ecosystem look like?

Your developer ecosystem needs will vary depending on how much in-house infrastructure support you have, whether you choose a hosted or self-hosted platform, and how much customization you desire. 


Overall, we suggest finding a platform with a very large, developed, and reputable developer ecosystem in order to ensure that your backend is error-free and your integrations can be installed properly.  

4) What level of customization do you need?

In your brainstorming sessions, you and your team may decide that you require a lot of customization. For instance, if you are a furniture retailer, you may have a piece that has 50 different stains, six different drawer sizes, and 25 different handle options for customers to choose from. 


The majority of ecommerce stores, however, do not actually need as much customization as they originally predicted. While hosted platforms tend to have less customization options, the options they do have can be set up and made your own in minutes. Self-hosted platforms on the other hand offer an infinite amount of customization, as you build out your store yourself, but they are more time intensive. 


With this knowledge, re-evaluate how much customization your ecommerce store really needs. Can you simplify your products and listings? Can you customize the essential parts of your business, like checkout, on a hosted platform? More often than not, your shop actually doesn’t need that many customizations, but a few very well-built features. 

6) How well do you serve my industry?

For most companies, choosing an ecommerce platform should not depend on your industry. For some industries, however, like automotive, you need to research if your desired solution can meet your needs. 


Automotive stores require a year, make, and model chooser that not all ecommerce platforms offer. BigCommerce has added these special features to serve the automotive industry especially. 


Other industries also require special features. For example, many furniture retailers want their potential customers to be able to upload a photo of their room for an augmented reality. Additionally, some stores, like florists, offer local delivery. These digital storefronts will require a platform that has the ability to locate where the customer is  and find someone to deliver to them.  


Finally, some platforms and payment providers prohibit certain industries, so we consider verifying the terms of service of potential providers if you are concerned about your industry’s eligibility.  

7) What are your pricing options?

Most ecommerce solutions offer a variety of monthly subscription packages that are relatively low cost. We suggest starting small to avoid large monthly expenses and upgrading your plan depending on your changing needs. 


While hosted platforms are a bit more expensive upfront than self-hosted platforms, they do tend to pay for themselves in the long run. This is because you are able to focus on growing your business instead of managing code and infrastructure. Equally, hoisted platforms tend to have a large app ecosystem that will save you more time down the line. 


badgley mischka customer review and case study

Case Study: Badgley Mishka

We chat with Katie Ouaknine of Badgley Mischka about her experience using Duoplane. The company loves how Duoplane seamlessly integrates with BigCommerce and automates their day-to-day operations. Katie’s favorite Duoplane features include splitting orders, auto-assigning orders, and managing multi-warehouse inventory.