Technology has come a long way. Everyday we come across new things that make our everyday life easier in one way or another. Nowadays, we can get almost everything we want to be delivered to our doorstep within a couple of days. In some places around the world, you can even order fresh groceries and have them delivered to you within the hour. To do that, you simply need to go to a website, choose what you want, check out, and that’s it.
Shopping carts vs store builders and the differences between them are among the first things you would need to be aware of when considering to create your own online store and venturing into the eCommerce business. A store builder is a website building platform specialised in eCommerce. On the other hand, a shopping cart is a piece of software that facilitates the purchase of a product or service. Below, we are going to go over what each of these terms means in depth, as well as provide information about the best options out there for you.
Having a solid shopping cart software is instrumental to your website. A shopping cart is a complex software which combines multiple systems and data connected to eCommerce (buying and selling products or services online). A cart typically has three aspects – it stores information about the products, it connects the order, customer and catalogue management, as well as renders product data and order information to display it to the user.
To put things more simply, think of the shopping cart software as the physical shopping cart in the market. Now, imagine the cart is not just a cart, but it’s also the shelves, the building, the cash register and also the credit card machine sending information back to the bank. The cart connects and controls the inventory data, the product display, the overall website and the financial aspect of the online store.
When discussing shopping carts, it’s important to mention that there are two basic types of carts – hosted shopping carts and licensed shopping carts. Hosted shopping carts are integrated with your website, but hosted by a third-party company, that is also responsible for server backups, maintenance, and upgrades. Only basic aspects of the eCommerce, like themes, can be modified by you as its owner. Otherwise, your online store is completely managed by experts, which can be very convenient for people with no IT expertise.
WebStore by Amazon, Homestead, and Yahoo! Merchant Solutions are some examples of hosted shopping carts. The licensed, or self-hosted, shopping carts allow for business owners to buy their own cart and further customise it to their needs. Owners have complete control of their site, as well as greater flexibility concerning functionality, and they can add third-party tools if needed. However, the upfront costs are higher and certain IT skills are needed for maintenance and troubleshooting any issues. Examples of licensed shopping carts include Magento, LemonStand, OpenCart and others.
Now, when choosing the best shopping cart platform, you have to be mindful of what you need. The best online shopping cart for a small business might not be the as good to use for a large business, and vice versa. Also, some store owners might put more focus on what the best shopping cart design is for example.
The following list may help you when looking for the best shopping cart.
Magento – Filled with eCommerce features and tools, Magento enables businesses to choose from a vast variety of options and provides them with flexibility. Powerful and safe, Magento’s Enterprise Edition is used by companies like Nike, Samsung and many others.
LemonStand – With its user-friendly interface, nearly unlimited design flexibility, full control over checkout and no hidden fees, LemonStand is one of the best options out there, especially for eCommerce newbies.
Zen Cart – This is a free, open-source shopping cart software, which only requires basic computer skills to set up. If, however, you have some coding skills up your sleeve, Zen Cart’s source code can freely be customised to fit your needs.
As the name suggests, website builders are web-based platforms that allow users to build their own websites. Website builders are easy-to-use and require no coding knowledge. With that being said, store builders are actually website builders focused on eCommerce. Store builders focus on being user-friendly and having plenty customisation as well as safety and security options.
They offer pre-made templates as a starting point of building your own eCommerce website. Each of them can then be customised regarding colours, fonts, widgets, and plenty of other options. Various content can be added to the site and, most of the time, all site modifications are done by using a drag-and-drop editor.
What this means is that you don’t need any coding skills whatsoever in order to build your online store. Every store builder that you may choose already runs with some of the previously mentioned shopping carts, but you won’t need to be part of its maintenance. In other words, when deciding between store builders vs shopping carts, if you choose the former, your only concern will be your storefront, over which you’ll have full control.
Everybody has different needs and different visions of how their website should look like. So, we have compiled the following list to help you choose the best store builder for you. Again, you should keep in mind that the best eCommerce website builder for a small business will not necessarily be the best for a big one. Likewise, the best eCommerce website builder for beginners will probably not have as many options as an advanced user would need.
On another important note, every single online store builder has a free plan or at least a free trial. So, you could create your online store free of charge and see whether a certain eCommerce website builder really works for you.
Shopify – Easy to use and great for beginners, this store builder offers a broad variety of professional ready-made design templates. Apart from that, Shopify provides 24/7 customer support, professional reports to help you keep track of your sales’ success, as well as unlimited products and file storage for your online store. See our Shopify review for a more in-depth look at why this is one of the best store builders currently available on the market.
BigCommerce – This store builder offers a broad range of helpful and practical features and tools to help you make the most out of your eCommerce website. Opting for BigCommerce can also help you multiply potential customers, as it provides the option for listing your products on eBay. With solutions for both fast-growing brands and already established, high-volume businesses, this eCommerce website builder truly provides everything you need to grow your online business.
WiX – This website builder provides a dedicated eCommerce plan which, thanks to its ease of use and relatively low price, is perfect for newer business owners. WiX allows for users to create professional-looking online stores, which will run flawlessly on any device and provide seamless checkout. The already stunning templates are very flexible when it comes to customisation, and inventory management, as well as order tracking, are also very straightforward to handle. Find out more about its features in our WiX review.
The eCommerce business can be confusing if you’re just getting into it. However, building an eCommerce website is now easier than ever, with the options we have listed above. Hopefully, this shopping carts vs store builders article has helped you understand the differences between the both, as well as choose your ideal option, considering store size, budget, and tech-skills. Make sure to visit our website for in-depth reviews of more eCommerce website builders, as well as guides and numerous tips for building your own website.