More than 1 in 4 eCommerce companies are desperate to switch platforms, regardless of cost and economic climate.
Last February, Digital Commerce 360 released their 2023 eCommerce Platforms Report and their findings are certainly intriguing. According to surveys held by Digital Commerce 360 in September and October 2022, 27% of eCommerce companies are planning to switch from their current platform provider to another and the majority of those are expecting to spend between $25,001 to $500,000.
While the reasoning for these companies to leave their current platforms behind are as diverse as the companies themselves, the majority of the survey respondents (35%) cite a need to find “commerce software adapted for us and hosted externally in a single-tenant environment.” This revelation is particularly noteworthy, especially when considering the tumultuous and unstable shape of the tech sector, inflation and ongoing economic unease, and the reintegration of normalcy in the post-COVID world.
The 2022 holiday shopping season injected a fair amount of cautious optimism in the retail industry. Last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday went on to become the biggest ever in history and retail behemoths Amazon and Walmart claimed the bulk of sales during the Cyber 5. eCommerce itself still saw growth and success in 2022, despite the challenges brought on by inflation and overseas manufacturing and supply chain disruptions. In fact, the last two years could be considered a wake-up call to retailers as they scrambled to get themselves online during the pandemic. But while conventional wisdom would say that now’s the time for them to get lean, tighten their wallets, and batten down the hatches in preparation of another global depression on the same or similar scale to that of 2007-2009, the retail industry realizes that it’s either evolve or die and eCommerce is the key to survival.
Points of Interest
- 76% of retailers plan to spend more on technology and services over the course of the next 24 months.
- Amazon and Walmart, the 2 largest eCommerce retailers in the US, both use their own custom in-house systems.
- The majority of merchants looking to migrate systems this year are planning on spending between $25,001 to $500,000 in order to overhaul their web stores.
- 35% of retailers in Digital Commerce 360’s survey prefer eCommerce solutions that are tailored to their needs and are hosted externally in a single-tenant environment.
- Salesforce, BigCommerce, Oracle, and Shopify are the most popular eCommerce platforms among the Top 500 retailers.
Comparing the Top eCommerce Platforms
Digital Commerce 360’s research found that the most common and widely used eCommerce solutions among the industry’s Top 500 retailers are Salesforce, BigCommerce, Oracle, and Shopify. In all of US eCommerce however, Shopify, Wix, and WooCommerce claim the bulk of the market share. Since we at Diztinct work with businesses of all sizes, we’re going to break down and analyze the 6 most popular eCommerce platforms used by both major corporate entities and small-medium businesses and share the pros and cons of each individual service.
This relatively new player in the eCommerce ring actually has roots that date back to the dot-com bubble of 2000. Salesforce was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison was one of Salesforce’s first investors as well as Halsey Minor, founder of CNET. After suffering an almost fatal blow after the burst of the 2000 dot-com bubble, Salesforce spent the next 9 years rebuilding to profitability, even breaking the $1B annual revenue mark in 2009. In 2019, Salesforce joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average and during the next 2 years, went on tear throughout the mainstream in marketing, media, and in corporate partnerships and acquisitions. Salesforce began as SaaS software but their product portfolio now includes CRM technologies and cloud services for B2C and B2B eCommerce.
Salesforce B2C Commerce transforms shopping experiences across all digital channels with its cloud-based commerce solution. This software has a lot of features, including marketing, merchandising, content, promotions, customer service, fulfillment, and artificial intelligence. Salesforce B2C Commerce also includes a customizable and extendable mobile-first site framework.
Salesforce B2B Commerce is an industry-leading, cloud-based commerce solution that helps you meet the complex online buying needs of business buyers. Salesforce B2B Commerce makes it easy to generate revenue faster, scale as your brand grows, and give your B2B customers a streamlined, B2C-style experience. Integrated with the Salesforce Platform, Salesforce B2B Commerce lets you connect your commerce and CRM data for a single customer view.
Advantages of Salesforce
- Cloud-based software allows for full access anywhere in the world so long as you have an Internet connection
- The most popular CRM solution
- Fully customizable, users can add or remove features to taste
- Large user community, easy to find developers that can work with the software as well as assistance when needed
- One of the most stable and reliable eCommerce platforms (when used with a stable and reliable Internet connection)
Disadvantages of Salesforce
- Fully relies on Internet connectivity; stability and reliability depends on the stability and reliability of the user’s Internet connection
- Tied to the Salesforce database; users have less control over software upgrades and possible downtimes
- Free apps, add-ons and integrations while available, are somewhat scarce compared to the vast collection of premium paid apps, add-ons and integrations
- Too many integrations will hurt performance
- Considerably higher subscription prices than competitors, usage prices can spike even higher with the addition of supplemental apps, add-ons, etc.
Austin, TX’s BigCommerce was originally founded in 2009, all the way on the other side of the globe in Sydney, Australia. A chance meeting in an online chatroom between founders Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper 6 years prior led to the creation of Interspire, the predecessor to BigCommerce. Interspire launched in 2004 which then evolved into BigCommerce. After raising $15M in Series A funding from General Catalyst Partners in 2011, BigCommerce grew and expanded into multiple offices in the US and eventually breaking ground in Europe. Across the next decade, BigCommerce formed partnerships with Amazon, Google, Feedonomics, B2B Ninja, and Bolt (among others) as they became one of the fastest-growing eCommerce platforms, challenging Shopify for that position in the US in particular. Partnerships with Feedonomics, B2B Ninja, and Bolt eventually resulted in company buyouts from BigCommerce which further fed their machine and increasing presence in the eCommerce industry. BigCommerce filed for IPO in July 2020 and went public on August 5th of that year. In the past 2 years, BigCommerce launched new initiatives including an emphasis on B2B sales and courting large corporate clients over small-medium businesses.
Advantages of BigCommerce
- Has one of the most in-depth and comprehensive feature sets of all of the major SaaS eCommerce platforms–as standard equipment
- Fully customizable in regards to form and function, wide selection of themes and templates as well as an extensive library of add-ons, apps, integrations, and plugins
- Exceptionally powerful SEO capabilities, among the best in the entire industry
- Available 24/7 user support and a sprawling community of 3rd party developers and users
- Unlimited potential for business growth, can be customized to accommodate businesses of all sizes
Disadvantages of BigCommerce
- Lacks the brand recognition of major eCommerce heavy hitters as Shopify, Salesforce, et al
- SaaS subscription costs are on par with competitors but are still significantly more expensive than other eCommerce services, especially free-to-use open source solutions such as WooCommerce
- Extensive coding knowledge is required if one wishes to get the most out of BigCommerce’s unlimited customization capabilities
- The monthly plan gets more expensive if you exceed the annual sales limit
- No shipping discounts are available on any plan including the top-tier BigCommerce Pro and Enterprise plans
Oracle Corporation was founded in 1977 by Bob Miner and Ed Oates. Originally called Software Development Laboratories (SDL), Oracle began life as a relational database management system (RDBMS) solution and ultimately grew into the 3rd largest software company in the world. Oracle’s success and continued relevance during the rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s came from their mastery of the C programming language. In the mid 2000s, Oracle entered the fields of ERP and CRM through their acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Sieblel, respectively. In 2008, Oracle acquired BEA Systems for enterprise infrastructure software and in 2010, acquired Sun Microsystems, the creators of the Java language. Oracle became known for their database software, cloud systems, and enterprise management software but in 2019, Oracle entered the eCommerce industry to challenge Amazon by partnering with their former rival, Microsoft. As a result, Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure were directly connected and were designed so that the new software could run on either Oracle or Azure. With this union, Oracle was also taking a shot at competitors Google and Salesforce in their efforts to top the eCommerce software mountain. Oracle Commerce Cloud is the company’s main solution for eCommerce usage.
Oracle Commerce Cloud is an ecommerce platform that enables B2C and B2B businesses to connect customer and sales data from their CRM to their financial and operational data, thus enabling them to provide personalized experiences to their buyers across different sales channels.
Advantages of Oracle Commerce Cloud
- Robust, easy to use, and does not require extensive programming or developer knowledge in order to use the back end
- International capabilities are greater than those of competitor’s solutions
- Designed for seamless operation on either desktop computers or mobile devices, optimized specifically for mobile use
- Built-in analytics features allow users to calculate and optimize conversion rates
- Platform was intentionally designed for easy transition from an on-premise hosted solution to their cloud-based systems
Disadvantages of Oracle Commerce Cloud
- Entirely cloud-based; performance is fully dependent on Internet connection and the reliability of said-connection
- Absence of an integrated development environment (IDE) means that any changes to the IDE must be downloaded to the cloud–code changes in the cloud must be transitioned back into the IDE
- Security risks from cloud-based software as virtual machines can be viewed by outside parties
- Pricing is a bit steep; geared more for large-scale and enterprise level companies
- Clandestine high-risk investments in China and Saudi Arabia led to the mass layoffs of over 3,000 Oracle employees during the Summer of 2022, casting doubt as to the platform’s–as well as the company’s own future viability
Canada’s Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake, initially as an online snowboarding store called Snowdevil. As an aspiring computer programming enthusiast in his youth, Tobias Lütke was inspired by id Software co-founder, lead programmer and developer John Carmack to take up computer programming as a profession. Lütke’s dissatisfaction with the current eCommerce platforms of the mid-2000s led him to write his own on the open source Ruby on Rails framework. This custom platform was then used as the basis for Snowdevil’s website and would eventually become the Shopify platform in 2006. Shopify’s ascension to the top of the eCommerce industry was boosted by the release of their API and App Store in 2009, secured $18M of Series A and Series B venture capital financing in 2010 and 2011, and a partnership with ABC’s hit reality TV series Shark Tank (itself, an American version of Japan’s Dragons’ Den TV series). Shark Tank gave Shopify widespread public exposure which helped them transition from eCommerce tech powerhouse to a mainstream household brand name. Shopify’s easy-to-use software and their public brand recognition made them the largest eCommerce solution in the US market.
Advantages of Shopify
- Very easy to use; designed to cater to users of all skill levels from eCommerce novices to professional developers
- Available multiple payment options including 3rd party platforms
- Flexibility for different types of eCommerce such as B2C, B2B, wholesale, and digital merchandise
- One of the largest selections of free themes, templates, and apps of any of the major eCommerce platforms
- SaaS platform takes care of hosting and software and security updates at no extra cost to the user
Disadvantages of Shopify
- A 14-day free trial is available but subscription plans can get very expensive and the functionality differs greatly between the paid tiers
- No EMail hosting and its built-in blog feature is severely outdated; content marketing through Shopify is far from industry leading
- Heavily reliant on apps, add-ons, and integrations to restore backend features and functions that are found on other competing eCommerce platforms as standard; the stacking of too many add-ons can cripple Shopify website performance
- Product categorization and cataloging is extremely limited which can lead to unavoidable inaccuracies in product listings
- Shopify users looking to migrate off of their system are blocked from reusing their websites on another platform; the only thing former Shopify users are allowed to access upon exiting is their CSV reports
Wix is an Israeli software company founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan. Wix gained notoriety for their cloud-based web development tools that made setting up and designing websites quick and accessible to web design newcomers. Wix was one of the first software providers to embrace HTML5 and their simple online-based drag-and-drop tools made it easy for users to create professional-looking websites as well as mobile-optimized sites. In the 2010s, the popularity of Wix’s web development technology allowed the company to branch out into different categories of software including industry-specific platforms for hotel booking, fitness, and music and entertainment. The Wix eCommerce platform, which launched in 2020, uses Wix’s other services such as Wix Payments, Ascend by Wix, and Wix Velo API (formerly Corvid API).
Wix eCommerce is specifically designed for online businesses or businesses looking to go online as quickly as possible. Dropshipping, catalog management, inventory management, orders, marketing, payments, fulfillment, and more are all included in Wix eCommerce. Wix eCommerce also totes 99.99% uptime and compliance with the highest international security standards and stores using the platform are able to handle 45,000 simultaneous transactions a minute without degradation to site performance. The platform is stress-tested against failure and performance degradation during sudden and seasonal spikes of high traffic and usage.
Advantages of Wix eCommerce
- Requires no technical knowledge to get started on the platform; website design is done through Wix’s drag-and-drop editor or through their selection of premade templates
- Fully customizable design capabilities, even outside of the standard drag-and-drop editor
- Available integrated payments with all business and eCommerce plans
- Includes graphic design software to create branding; an excellent way for eCommerce novices and brand new companies to get themselves online quickly
- All Wix websites are enabled for HTTPS
Disadvantages of Wix eCommerce
- Wix websites will not allow for template changes once the site has been launched
- Like Shopify, current Wix users that will be migrating off of the platform are barred from taking their Wix websites with them; migrating to a new platform requires a complete rebuild of their websites
- Apps and plugins that are not offered in the Wix App Market cannot be used on a Wix website
- All Wix subscription plans come with a storage limit, even at the top end professional and enterprise levels; all Wix stores have limits in regards to inventory and media files
- Wix sites are enabled for HTTPS but are still highly vulnerable to hacking and cybercrime; Wix websites are among the least secure in the eCommerce industry
WooCommerce is an open source, free-to-use plugin for WordPress websites. Launched on September 27, 2011, WooCommerce is designed for small and large-scale online merchants using WordPress and quickly gained popularity thanks to its simplicity, unlimited customization, and the open source base product’s free-to-use business model. WooCommerce is a product of WordPress theme developer WooThemes. WooThemes contracted Jigowatt’s Mike Jolley and James Koster to develop a fork of Jigoshop which, in turn, became WooCommerce. WooCommerce is known for its content management and content delivery systems and is a favorite solution for content creators, artists, and sellers dealing in digital, non-physical merchandise such as music, game downloads, and NFTs. In the US market, WooCommerce is second to Shopify but on the global level, WooCommerce is the #1 most popular eCommerce solution among Internet retailers. WordPress, which powers over 40% of the Internet’s websites, makes this statistic possible.
Advantages of WooCommerce
- WooCommerce is open source freeware; there are no licensing fees or monthly subscriptions required in order to use the plugin
- Any user, designer, and/or developer can create their own themes and customizations for WooCommerce using CSS, HTML, and PHP code
- Highly flexible; can be used to sell both physical and non-physical digital merchandise
- Being the largest eCommerce platform in the world on the groundwork that forms the foundation for almost half of the world’s websites (IE: WordPress) means that there’s definitely no shortage of WooCommerce developers, users, and resources for assistance
- Lowest initial operating cost of all of the major eCommerce platform providers: zero, because the base WooCommerce software is open-source freeware
Disadvantages of WooCommerce
- Almost entirely dependent on apps and plugins for advanced functions and features; the stacking of multiple apps can and will drastically reduce website performance
- Said apps and plugins also come at a premium; because most WooCommerce apps are paid apps, this will negate WooCommerce’s free-to-use model and actually make it even more expensive than some of the top leading SaaS subscription eCommerce solutions
- Insecure and highly susceptible to hacking, DDOS attacks, and cybercrime; WooCommerce does offer security features but they need to be installed manually and because WooCommerce and WordPress are so popular throughout the world, there’s a very high likelihood that a WooCommerce/WordPress site will be targeted every 39 seconds, every single day
- WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, meaning that it can only be used for WordPress
- Users have added responsibilities when it comes to website maintenance, security, hosting, and any customization requires extensive coding knowledge
A building is only as strong as its foundation, which is why it’s important for Internet businesses to choose the right eCommerce platform that will best meet their specific requirements. Not the most popular platform or the one with the flashiest commercials or the most recognizable brand name, but the service that’s most appropriate in regards to functions, capabilities, budget, and size and scope of the business itself. Given the current economic situation and the shape of the tech sector, it’s understandable that businesses–especially, small-medium businesses and those preparing to weather the storm of a possible economic depression in the coming months–will want to curb any unnecessary spending and operate as lean as they can. But as stated at the top of this piece, eCommerce businesses dissatisfied with their current eCommerce service providers understand the need to migrate onto platforms that can sufficiently handle their operating needs; they’re also willing to spend whatever’s necessary to get it done. 2023 and 2024 are set to become big years of mass eCommerce platform migration and if your business is among the 76% that are investing heavily in website technology and services, Diztinct can help you make the right eCommerce choice and get you set up with an all-new platform that you and your business will be able to trust.