What Is An E-commerce Store in 2021? – Marketing & Platforms Explained

What is an ecommerce store

The world has seen some major economic changes in the past three decades. In fact, the millennials (children born in the late ’80s to early ‘90s) who make up a large part of the present-day economic force, find it amusing how their generation has seen the world shift so many times – and most of them are not even in their 30’s!


In the past 20 years or so, there have been three major economic recessions, two global wars, and now the coronavirus pandemic. Despite these major setbacks in history, however, there were also developments in the field of technology. E-commerce, especially, has taken a massive turn in recent years. It gave way for online stores to make money selling goods online, with having a website as the only requirement.


Introducing E-commerce 


E-commerce is short for Electronic Commerce or Internet Commerce. It refers to businesses that operate digitally; the exchange of goods or services between sellers and consumers online. While this mostly refers to the transacting of physical goods, any service or product may be put up for trade via e-commerce so long as it meets one condition: The transaction is facilitated via the internet. 


Since the internet revolution, humanity has taken major leaps in science and technology. With the internet bringing the world closer together, feats that used to be insurmountable before became possible. Partnerships and cooperative movements that could never have happened were realised. All because the World Wide Web stitched the world together and brought communities closer. 


If you are an entrepreneur, internet commerce can be your best friend. It allows you to tap into markets that are otherwise beyond your reach using traditional methods. E-commerce can help you maximize profits while limiting losses through various methods of digital selling – like dropshipping, for instance. Because of the growing popularity of the industry, the number of e-commerce platforms that service online entrepreneurs are also increasing. 


Today, we attribute this digital guide to learning what e-commerce platforms are, how they can be useful tools in online selling and gathering consumer data, as well as why e-commerce marketing is far superior to traditional marketing methods. First things first, let us define what an e-commerce platform is. 


What Is an E-commerce Platform? 


Online stores carry and transact goods and services online, that much is basic knowledge. However, where exactly do these stores sell? Yes, they sell through E-commerce platforms. 


E-commerce platforms make another’s business, their business. They act as support for online entrepreneurs, giving them the tools and facilities needed to sell their products more strategically to target customers. Generally-speaking, e-commerce platforms provide several types of services.


Examples of which are web hosting, online store building, consumer analysis tools, sales management software, and secure payment options. They also offer other related programs that may be helpful to an online store’s day-to-day operations. 


By availing online store building packages from e-commerce platforms, businesses can build websites hassle-free. They get access to premium themes, as well as easier payment options for their clients. The facilitative nature of e-commerce platforms is ideal for those who want to start their own internet business in as little time as possible.


What Makes A Great E-commerce Platform? 


One quick search on Google will give you several great recommendations of e-commerce platforms to use, whether your business is in the product or service selling industry. However, what you have to remember is that these platforms are made to sell. It’s basically their business to sell online so they can easily entice you with unique offers and mesmerizing packages. 


Before you jump the gun and go with the first platform that catches your attention, it is best to deliberate your options in-depth. There are so many choices out there. We have Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce to name a few. It would be a shame to miss out on selling opportunities just because you chose the wrong one for your line of business. 


Fortunately, we’re here to help you figure out what makes the perfect e-commerce tool for your online store. There are generally three factors to look at when checking out e-commerce platforms:


Shopping Cart Options


Since you’re planning to open an online store, the very first thing you have to integrate into your shopping website is the “cart function.” Otherwise, how do you plan to manage the items your customers select?


Needless to say, an e-commerce platform with no shopping cart function should not even be included in your options. Online shoppers, after all, are more encouraged to shop when a store is organized.


A “shopping cart” will also subliminally influence them to purchase more than one item from your shop. It gives them the freedom to browse more items without losing track of previously liked items. Also, it gives them the opportunity to review whatever’s on their cart before check-out. 


Most platforms would have a built-in shopping cart to cater to the needs of stores that carry a wide array of products and services. This means that they offer a generic shopping cart function that is the same across all other stores that use their platform to run their business.


You might be the type of business owner who likes to customise an “online experience” to fit your specific market. Thus, knowing that all other online stores would have the same shopping cart function as you may be dissatisfying. 


The best e-commerce platforms don’t just offer a shopping cart function. They also allow you to customise yours by letting you install third-party cart plug-ins to better serve your customers.


If you feel like there is a specific shopping cart plug-in that you would want to use for your business, finding an e-commerce platform that would allow third-party plug-ins is the most ideal solution for you. This will give you more creative freedom over your online business and allow you to service your customers in the way you see fit.


Availability of Creative Themes & Templates


The biggest reason why you are opting to partner with an online store builder is to skip the hard parts of building a website – am I right? By taking advantage of an e-commerce platform’s “drag and drop” functionalities, you can skip the tedious work of coding.


You also avoid having to pay expensively for an expert to do the job in your stead. With that said, you would want an e-commerce platform that will allow you to instill a certain level of creativity in your website design. After all, in the world of online commerce, aesthetics are a big deal.


The thing you have to understand about online selling is that your saleability lies heavily on the visual aspect. The way you present your products and services to customers and clients will largely impact their buying decision. Unlike traditional shopping, consumers have no other way of determining the quality of the goods other than its visual presentation and description.


Believe it or not, even a first-time shopper would be able to tell whether a business is A or B-grade based on how their online store looks.


Thus, the availability of themes and templates to choose from is an important factor to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform to contract with.


Whether your business is B2B (Business to Business), B2C (Business to Consumer), or C2B (Consumer to Business), you can give your store a better sense of identity when you have more themes and templates to choose from. It can give you more freedom to mix and match designs so that you can create an online space that best fits your shoppers’ needs.


Mobile Responsiveness Is A Must


It’s no secret – a large chunk of the global population use mobile devices to access the internet conveniently. They use it for posting updates on their social media channels down to adding items to their shopping cart. All in all, many people make use of handheld technologies to engage in internet activity. 


In fact, according to the latest data compiled by GSMA Intelligence, there is an estimated 5.16 bn unique mobile phone users worldwide. This is true even if we are to take out the significantly less faction of analog phone users (phones that do not have internet connectivity functions). There is still practically billions of people who access the internet on their phones daily.


Whether it’s to simply access their social media accounts, or for something else entirely, the vastness of the mobile community is certain. It is enough to tell you that there is a lot of business potential there. Missing out on such a promising opportunity is a big waste.


With that said, the e-commerce platform you partner with for your business should allow for mobile devices. The accurate term would be “mobile responsiveness.” When a website is not mobile responsive, several problems may arise. First, the browser version of the website may not necessarily fit into the small screen of mobile phones and other handheld gadgets.


As per Zdnet, the average size of mobile devices is between 5 to 5.6 inches. If a website is made to fit a 17 or 19-inch desktop screen, it will undoubtedly look skewed in a mobile browser. This brought forth mobile-responsive designs, wherein websites are made adaptable to different screen sizes. 


If you are going to opt for an e-commerce platform, it is best that you look for one that supports mobile-responsive designs. There are billions of mobile users who favour online stores that make it convenient for them to shop. It’s a market opportunity that’s hard to miss. Just think about the impact a mobile responsive online store would have on your monthly sales and revenue. 

Unrivalled Support System


Most importantly, the one factor that you have to carefully look at when choosing an e-commerce platform to partner with is the user support system that they provide. You are bound to come across a few twists and bumps as you run your e-commerce shop. However, that would not be a major hindrance to the growth of your business. As long as you receive excellent support from your website hosting provider, managing your e-store should be a breeze.


When we say excellent support, we are mostly referring to the responsiveness of the provider. Especially, when an issue or problem has been brought to their attention.


Do they offer 24/7 customer support?

How fast can you reach them?

How long does it take them to respond to your emails?


These little things can heavily impact your business operations, and will ultimately affect the efficiency of your online store.


For example, if the shopping cart feature in your website malfunctions and customers are unable to check-out their selected items for payment, you will lose a lot of business. You’d be surprised how fast people change their minds when they’re feeling inconvenienced.


If your provider does not promptly address the root of the problem, you will end up losing even more customers. It might even affect your store’s reputation online – news travels very fast electronically, after all! This is why one of the best features you can look for in an e-commerce platform is their client support. The very best ones should be able to troubleshoot website-related problems in a jiffy. 


What Are The Best E-commerce Platforms? 

what makes a successful ecommerce store

Now that we’ve covered what makes an e-commerce platform great, let’s discuss some of the best options to consider. Below, I’ve taken the liberty to list down some of the best and most popularly used e-commerce platforms. I’ll briefly introduce them one by one, starting with the industry’s top choice: Shopify. 




Sounds familiar? No doubt! Shopify is one of the biggest and most innovative e-commerce platforms in the World Wide Web. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have also done some shopping in a Shopify-sponsored store before. Many e-businesses choose Shopify as their store-building partner due to several convincing factors. This includes affordability, convenience, and popularity.


One very big advantage of using Shopify is that it’s easy to use. Even a beginner at online store building is able to create a chic looking website with their click-on features, apps, and widgets. There are over 170 templates to choose from. Plus, they also allow you to customise a new design using the liquid template feature.


Most of all, the reason why Shopify is the preferred choice of many e-businesses is because they have excellent user support. Many online store owners can attest to how prompt the Shopify team caters to complaints and troubleshooting issues.


Shopify also has the Shopify App Store where you can find freemium and premium apps up for grabs. These apps can help you scale your business and grow your market reach (e.g. email marketing apps).


The biggest downside to using Shopify is the transaction fee charged on top of the processors’ fees. This is often required by payment channels such as Stripe and Paypal. These transaction fees differ with the plan you avail, with the Basic Shopify plan incurring 2% fee per transaction. This fee is only waived if you use Shopify Payments.


Other cons worthy of mention is that the platform does not support multi-languages – for free, that is. You can, however, pay to add the feature. Also, formatting non-commerce content to look the way you want is easier said than done. 




Another big name in the e-commerce industry is BigCommerce. They might as well be considered as Shopify’s biggest rival in the world of e-commerce platforms. According to the company, everything you might ever need to run your online business can be provided by them. From building your online store to managing your business marketing, they have the apps and tools for everything your business needs to grow and conquer online markets. 


BigCommerce offers two major advantages Shopify can’t: Unlimited Product Variants and Zero Transaction Fees. This is why they are favoured by many startup businesses. You can add as many new items as you want to the products you carry on site.


Their zero transaction fees offer is also enticing for business owners. Many see it as an opportunity to offer their products at competitive prices without diminishing much of their monthly revenues. The store builder is also SEO-friendly, which means that a website they host is more likely to rank higher in Search Engine Page Results. 


The service pricing of BigCommerce is higher than Shopify, however. Not by a whole lot, but it certainly is higher. Also, they have something called “Annual Sales Threshold.” When hit, automatically converts your BigCommerce account to an upgraded package. This could mean added costs for your business.


Like Shopify, BigCommerce does not have a multilingual feature. But unlike Shopify, there is no app or additional feature you can purchase to activate such multi-languages in your online store. The only way to do it is through code which can be terribly challenging if you don’t know the first thing about coding. 




If you are looking for an e-commerce platform that can complement your SEO, then WooCommerce may be a good choice. It’s a big bonus if you have worked with WordPress before as well, since the interface of the platform is quite similar to that of WP.


One of the biggest advantages of WooCommerce is that you can create your website at no cost. It’s a free website builder and it’s also open-source. This means that basically anyone (e.g. other developers) can improve and alter its codes for customisation. It’s quite flexible and you can create a website that’s tailor-fit to your business’s needs.


Since there are a lot of WooCommerce users, it is also fairly easy to reach out to its big community for help. As for the WooCommerce support team, many claims that they are not as prompt as they should be. Thus, it is best to manage your expectations when using it. 


While many themes and templates may be used free of charge, certain features require you to pay for them – including adding payment gateways and other app extensions.


Still, if you are planning to use the website builder for business purposes, investing a little for helpful features are a given. It is also important to note that WooCommerce is a WordPress plug-in and is not a stand-alone e-commerce platform. 




One of the defining advantages of using Magento is its scalability. Your online store can start from humble beginnings and eventually develop into something more ambitious. Or, you can open with a bang right away!


Whatever the case may be, Magento can support your vision for your online store with its easy-to-use features and tons of options for themes and templates.


If you need extensions or added features, a quick visit to Magento Marketplaces should also provide you with what you need. There are over 4000 extensions to choose from; you’re bound to find something perfect for your online store.


Magento is also SEO-friendly. Much of the sales traffic generated by online stores come from organic clicks and not ad clicks. If you want your online store to stand out and increase its chances of ranking higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), this e-commerce platform may be just the thing for you. 


One important thing to note, however, is that Magento does not manage web hosting, unlike other e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Wix. Domain registration and configuration become the responsibility of the site owner and Magento can only help with the site’s building and design.


While they offer freemium accounts for beginners and small-time e-businesses, Magento’s prices escalate real quick for larger companies. If you are running a larger operation, it might be best to look for another e-commerce platform.  




First off, Wix is not just an e-commerce platform – it is a well-known website builder for almost any type of website. Whether the website is for profit or non-profit, Wix can help you build it just the same. Like the previous platforms we’ve mentioned,


Wix also offers a variety of templates, most of which are modern designs that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The “drag and drop” interface is also very convenient for first-timers, or people who are not into complex processes. Using the Wix App Market, you can easily add new features or extensions to make your online store easier to run.


The site speed of Wix is also particularly fast, which is important to keep customers hooked on browsing your online store. Website speed is a big contributor to user satisfaction, after all. The website builder also offers freemium subscriptions so it’s ideal for aspiring e-business startups who are working with a limited budget.


While Wix offers its services for free, there is still a catch. If you opt for the free build, the Wix branding on your site may come off a little too strong. From the domain name to the website itself, traces of Wix branding images are not hard to notice.

You are also not allowed to interchange templates, which limits how much you can customise your website’s design. Lastly, your site is non-transferable so be sure to keep that in mind when you choose to build your online store with Wix.


What Makes an E-commerce Store Successful? 


Now that you have been introduced to some of the best and most convenient e-commerce platforms to use, you must be wondering: How can you make your e-commerce store successful?


Building your store online is just first of the many challenges you will have to face, after all. After your website is done, getting customers in is your next hurdle. No matter how great your website is, it would all be for naught if you fail to bring it to the attention of prospective buyers. In order to get the money rolling in, you will need to implement an effective E-commerce Marketing Strategy.


What Is Ecommerce Marketing? 


Your marketing strategy differs depending on the nature of your online business. To briefly define it, e-commerce marketing refers to activities or efforts to bring your online business to the attention of the buying market. This can be achieved in more ways than one. For instance, you can:


  1. Optimize Content For Search Engines (SEO); or engage in
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Social Media Advertising, such as Facebook/Instagram 
  4. Content Marketing
  5. Citation Building
  6. Influencer Marketing


Or, you can combine different methods and come up with a diversified e-commerce marketing campaign. E-commerce Marketing helps startup businesses gain the attention of various markets. It helps them boost their branding efforts so that more and more people will come to trust their brand.


The best way to learn E-commerce Marketing is taking a course on it. Online training or coaching programs like Ecom Warrior Academy by Matthew Lepre can equip you with the knowledge and skills every e-business owner needs to successfully run a profitable online operation.


Starting an e-commerce store may seem like a lot of work at first, but your efforts will surely pay off once the business successfully takes off the ground. Always remember that you are one decision away from living a completely different life, so how about it?