Over the years, several technologies have been deemed the "lifeblood" of small businesses. From email, to smartphones, to the cloud, today's entrepreneurs rely heavily on devices and software tools to operate and grow their companies.
For online merchants, there is no technology more deserving of that moniker than their ecommerce software platforms. After all, an online store is only as good as its capability to accept payments and process payments orders. But which one should you choose?
Report Reviews and Ranks Ecommerce Software
G2 Crowd, a community of business software reviewers, released its first report on e-commerce platforms based on feedback from a given product's customers. The company gathered more than 31,000 reviews from customers of more than 8,500 software solutions, turning real-word experiences into realistic assessments of what buyers can expect when they deploy a customer relationship management (CRM), accounting or security product, among several other types of software.
The report gleaned its findings from more than 260 reviews covering 13 ecommerce products. The category is defined as software that helps people build and run an online store. Typical features include a shopping cart, inventory management, transaction processing, and Internet marketing according to G2 Crowd.
Since the reviews submitted by customers are "tied to their professional identity," Adrienne Weissman, chief marketing officer of G2 Crowd, told Small Business Computing, "they tend to be respectful in tone and nature," as well as provide an honest appraisal of how the software performs. Reviews were fairly evenly spread among small, medium and large enterprise users, ensuring good SMB representation, she added.
This summer, one ecommerce platform stands above the rest.
Follow the Ecommerce Leader
Shopify, the popular online selling platform—165,000 store owners and counting—was named the sole leader in G2 Crowd's evaluation of the market.
"Brand recognition is somewhat key," Weissman admitted. Given Shopify's size, "it has the advantage now." Fortunately, Shopify owes its high ranking to more than sheer popularity and high customer satisfaction scores.
Reviewers generally found that Shopify ticks off all the major checkboxes, particularly for SMBs. Observing the contributions from small businesses, "the overall tone of the person's review is centered on the setup experience," Weissman said. More than 60 percent of Shopify's reviews came from small business customers.
That indicates most entrepreneurs can get their Shopify-powered online stores up and running with a minimum of fuss or IT expertise. And the sooner those stores fling open their virtual doors, the closer they are to generating sustainable cash flow. "Implementation is important," Weissman stressed.
Shopify also has "good customer relations," noted Weissman, proving that delivering great customer experiences just as critical in the business-to-business (B2B) market as in consumer space. "Shopify does a really good job of engaging with its customers."
Nipping at Shopify's Heels
What good is an evaluation of the market without some good alternatives?
Proving Weissman's assertion that the market for ecommerce platform is "a very popular category and quite competitive," a total of five companies earned the High Performer title. The list includes Miva Merchant, Bigcommerce, Demandware, Avangate and Cleverbridge.
Miva Merchant received the highest overall customer satisfaction score with reviewers noting the software's rock-solid reliability and strong data security safeguards. Small businesses provided 90 percent of the Miva Merchant's reviews. Bigcommerce also ranked high, with 70 percent of reviews hailing from companies with 50 employees or fewer.
While G2 Crowd's report helps clear the fog for merchants searching for an ecommerce platform, it also serves as a guide for vendors that cater to the SMB technology market. Products that don't deliver on the attributes that SMBs value—ease of implementation, reliability, security and customer service and engagement, for starters—stand little chance of unseating vendors like Shopify, Miva Merchant, and Bigcommerce.
Small businesses are inherently more nimble than larger organizations, reminded Weissman. Banking on vendor lock-in is a bad bet. If an ecommerce platform falls short, small businesses "are more willing to abandon" a provider than an enterprise that has poured a fortune into itsonline store.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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