E-commerce which Solution and how ?
The QUESTION to ask from the outset is NOT which is the best known platform or software that allows you to create an E-commerce ? But rather which strategy to adopt from the beginning:
- Use and pay for a known, popular intermediary E-commerce platform.
- Create your independent platform without any intermediary, using your own system.
If you go through an intermediary platform:
- Your E-commerce will belong to an external company (For example Shopify lightspeedhq.ch and others).
- Your E-commerce will be limited the options / functionalities the platform offers.
- Your are trapped by their template and, especially, their payement methods.
- No transparency (only “virtual” and written policies).
- Every E-commerce will have the same “clothing”.
- It will be impersonal and very often not scalable.
- Not be able to choose or change your provider so easily (rebuild everything).
- You will be locked into their hosting service provider. Migration will be difficult.
Notice: For local merchants, Shopify payments can’t do the payment processing for stores based in Switzerland since they haven’t expanded it in yet.
Bear in mind that these big companies supplying centralised E-commerce services may get bought out, change their policy, etc.
At first glance, E-commerce centralised platforms seem to be cheap, allow you to quickly design attractive websites without any technical knowledge, but they will not allow you to control your data and important technical aspects in order to properly optimise your website (back-end CMS included).
If your E-commerce will have a growing success, your Hosting provider need to be scalable in ressources.
If you choose a centralised external platform you emphasize the visibility of the company that offers you the service, not your own company. For Swiss-based companies (SMEs), we strongly recommend too choose external service providers registered under Swiss legislation and that meet Swiss standards.
If you develop a custom solution for your online shop:
- Open source E-commerce frameworks are “free” (with some premium features).
- You often have more creative control over the design and functionalities of the store.
- Open source solutions often contain more unique features because they are constantly being developed.
- You can choose your hosting provider, plugins and themes that would fit in your store.
- Open-Source systems are built by a community. They are incredibly user-friendly for developers and the support is excellent.
- Source code ownership and customisable open-source libraries.
Open-Source solutions have other complexities:
- Open source E-commerce platforms generally require more development or coding and design knowledge.
- Your developer must be experienced and able to advise you on the best hosting solutions.
- Any interactive (dynamic) website requires maintenance, security and speed optimisation that should not be neglected.
- A preliminary study of your business processes is necessary;
- Create user-friendly website integrating a sober graphic design which corresponds to your visual identity.
ARTELABS helps you to design your custom platform by staying close to the customer, as a partner, providing assistance, advice for the success of his online web project.
The strength of E-commerce centralised solutions in SaaS is that you can get started quickly and “cheaply”. Indeed, you do not have to go through a web agency, the platform is already ready to use. You just have to create an account, choose the formula that suits you best, choose a template and you can start creating your products. All the complicated steps involved in creating an online store site that you own are thus avoided (hosting, server configuration, technical settings of the site, integration of payment solutions, updates etc…).
The hitch of these solutions are the payments and the multi-language options. Most SaaS solutions are abroad (France or United States) and few are adapted to the specificities of our country.
In Open Source solutions, the possibilities are much wider. There are no dependencies and you are completely free to modify and adapt your site to suit you. The addition of modules, plugins and extensions is unlimited, which allows you to find (paying) solutions to your needs. However, this independence has a cost, that of technical knowledge and expertise. Having access to the source code, it is essential to be at ease in the field of web development, to have a developer in your team or to use a web agency.
Popular E-Commerce "Open-Source" CMS
WooCommerce is a flexible, Open-Source E-commerce platform built on WordPress which allow you to have both, a website with an integrated shopping platform. When you set up your store, you start choosing your Country, Currency, Measurement Units for sizes and weight, shipping methods and costs for every Country in real time.
It’s a WordPress plug-in that requires technical expertise with some premium optional features. WooCommerce powers millions of stores worldwide and has built in developers tools, extendable, adaptable, open-sourced. It offers many plugins for Swiss payement gateways such as PostFinance.
- WordPress is the best platform for SEO
- Easy integration App
- Lots of WordPress experts available
- Highly customisable
- Many marketing options and plenty of other integrations
PrestaShop is an efficient and innovative E-commerce solution with many features a business need to create an online store and grow its business.
PrestaShops offer addons (modules) solutions such as PostFinance Payement gateway (premium):
- Lots of apps/integrations available
- Strong SEO
- Options for both self-hosted and hosted
- Open source very flexible
- Large and ready-to-help community
- Slower than the other builders
- Add-ons can add up
- Limited third-party marketing integrations
- Developer skill needed to tweak
- No multichannel functionalities on the hosted version
OpenCart Open-Source CMS has a huge range of features included out-of-the-box and thousands additional extensions available to download and a powerful Administrator Dashboard which allow to have a Multi-Store in order to manage multiple stores from one admin interface.
On the other hand, payment and shipping methods are more US oriented (except PayPal which is a standard). OpenCart Marketplace is Ebay, Amazon, FaceBook and Microsoft and the headquarter is based in Hong Kong.
- It is light weight and thus faster than other
- It has simple user interface and thus comparatively easy to learn and manage
- Unlike other , it has more number of inbuilt shipping and payment methods
- It has more number of free modules and themes.
- Has more number of developers, thus you get support easily
- Development cost is comparatively cheaper than others
- Consume less server resources and it’s easy to maintain
- Not suitable for large scale businesses
- Does not provide large number of fancy features like Magento or WooCommerce.
- Easy to learn but low quality and vulnerable modules are available to download
- Cache management is not available out of the box (if used).
Magento Commerce is not totally an “Open-Source CMS”, it has been bought by Adobe. The software meet the small business, mid-sized business. Although it isn’t as robust as the Magento Enterprise edition, the Magento Open source Community Edition is still a strong choice for ecommerce stores that are committed to the idea of an free platform. Qou can still download your own release and deploy it on your own server.
The system is more complex to customise and many options are premium. Magento Enterprise edition provides integrated core commerce features deployment, support, business intelligence and tools for your sales. They work with “certified” partners who offer cost implementation.
The product require several technical ressources and many features cannot be easily modified and difficult to handle.
- Robust and feature rich
- Strong SEO
- 1-Click selling
- Lots of users and community
- Scalable and highly customizable
- Flexible to choose where you want to host the software
- Pricey themes.
- Easily Slowed Down
- Requires Development Skills
- Virtually no support.
- Requires ample space and memory to perform well
An online shop is not enough
Before going online, all shop processes, from website design to logistics, must be well coordinated.
Content Usability Checklist for E-Commerce Websites.
- Start with a “realistic” concept / strategy;
- A solid Hosting Provide, Data security, Back-ups, Speed;
- Web usability (simple UX), Match Your Design with Your Products;
- Target audience (geographical range);
- Client Processes (create an account optional);
- Easy Checkout Process (include credit card logos and security seals);
- Secure Payment gateways & accepted currencies;
- Contact Information and Support (F.A.Q. page for example);
- Provide customers reviews (comments or a simple score system);
- Clients feed-back (optimise your business);
- Allow customers to manage their own account (if registered);
- Promoting, Advertising (including social networks, voucher system, etc.) & SEO;
- Web Portal maintenance and improvements (evolutions, updates, security, bugs, etc.);
- Legal regulations (See the Swiss and European E-commerce Laws);
- Shipping, Returns & Refund policy;
- Shipping Rates, Taxes, Delivery Time;
- Products’ description or summary (avoid misunderstanding);
- Include acceptance policy in the checkout screen;
- Statistics for improving sales, content & quality products;
- Take into account any contingency may occur (often provided by users feed-back).
Important: any website (Portal) that collects customer data, uses statistical tools, tracks customer trends, is subject to the GDPR regulation.
Swiss Payement Methods
Most popular safe payement gateways used in Switzerland by SMEs.
PayPal allow you to send, shop and pay your way with one account. This system (US) has been used for a long time because it is compatible with lots of countries currencies. You have 2 kind of solutions, personal or business.
Paypal Business or Pro allow people to pay without having to create an account with their company. Nevertheless, their integrated business option is becoming more and more “manipulative” because they tend to “hide” this option into the checkout interface in order to attract a maximum of new clients for themselves. The fees transfer cost for Switzerland from their platform to a private IBAN account is quite high. As many US products, it is a practical and secure intermediary but but not really “democratic” neither flexible.
With E-payment solutions from PostFinance, online shop operators can process all standard payment methods. This allows you to collect payments for your online shop efficiently and reliably, saving you the need to issue invoices, among other benefits. It can be integrated into your WooCommerce WordPress Shop.
Costs are reasonable according to the amount of transaction you need. Three packages are provided:
- PostFinance Basic
- PostFinance Start-up
- PostFinance Professional
TWINT is a touch digital cash service that belongs to the biggest Swiss Banks and to SIX Payment Services. With TWINT, you can transfer money in real time, easily from smartphone to smartphone.
- Transactions are automatically credited or debited on your TWINT bank account.
- Easy to use (just input name, mobile phone and optional reason).
- Instant payments for small transactions if you don’t have cash.
- Instant transactions only between TWINT APS users;
- No transactions outside Switzerland;
- Withdraw of cash only at Sonect K-Kiosk partners (in case of urgency).