In this blog post you will learn to use the best e-commerce CMS for your e-commerce store including what should be the most desired features for an online retail store CMS in 2020.

CMS stands for “content management system”. Every website has two parts – the code or the programming language part including HTML, PHP, JavaScript, ColdFusion, HTML 5 or any other programming language or tool. The second part is the content part, which is information that you see when you come to a website – text, images, videos and graphics.

All those items that you see on an e-commerce website (gadgets, groceries, accessories), are displayed with the help of an e-commerce CMS.

Broadly, there are two categories of e-commerce CMS solutions store owner can opt for:

  1. Hosted e-commerce CMS
  2. Self-hosted e-commerce CMS

A self-hosted e-commerce CMS naturally requires a greater level of expertise and therefore, it makes sense to work with a company like Perception System that routinely helps e-commerce websites set up state-of-the-art content management systems.

You need to install the entire software of the self-hosted e-commerce CMS on your own server and it involves setting up, database connections, interface management, payment gateway integration and e-commerce website integration.

You are basically on your own and you need to work with the experts web development company to enjoy the benefits of a self-hosted e-commerce CMS.

Major features to consider in a CMS for an e-commerce portal

Selecting a CMS for your e-commerce portal is a long-term commitment. You and your employees will be using the CMS for years to come. You will be adding thousands of items and eventually, your entire e-commerce setup will be built around your CMS. Listed below are some features you do not want to miss in a CMS for your e-commerce portal:

  • SEO and social sharing: The success of an e-commerce store depends a lot on quality search engine traffic and social media presence.
  • Your CMS must allow to create search engine optimized product listings. It must also give an ability to share experience and products from the shopping cart interface itself.
  • Better user experience: Minimum amount of time should be spent on figuring out how to add, update and remove items in the CMS. The process of inventory management must be very friendly and intuitive.
  • Marketing within the CMS: Following up with the customers, sending them email promotional campaigns and giving them all the necessary product order notifications must be accomplished within the CMS for your e-commerce store.
  • Upselling and cross selling: Your CMS should be able to sell you more and turn your e-commerce store more profitable automatically as well as using AI.
  • Analytics: Data can tell you which products to push forward and which products to hold back. Most of the contemporary CMS systems come with their own data analytics capabilities but you will need to decide which one works the best for your needs.
  • Secure payments: An e-commerce CMS system must be able to provide uncompromising payment gateway security and must be able to accommodate all major payment modes using digital wallets and even cryptocurrency.

Which CMS platform should you use for your e-commerce store?

It depends on the size of your e-commerce store. You may have a highly niche and smaller e-commerce store selling just a few items. You may have something like a retail store where thousands of items are listed and there are scores of categories. Accordingly, you choose your CMS.

The good thing is that there is a wide range of choice both among premium e-commerce CMS solutions as well as open source frameworks.

If you have a small and niche e-commerce store, you may consider a combination of WordPress+WooCommerce as a self-hosted solution. WordPress is one of the easiest interfaces.

Practically every web hosting company allows you to install WordPress in just a few clicks.

Pretty much everyone in the past 15 years who has managed a website has had some sort of experience with WordPress. WooCommerce is an e-commerce CMS plug-in that you can install within WordPress. You can create an e-commerce website with WordPress and WooCommerce in just a couple of hours.

You can either use the combination of WordPress and WooCommerce using the default themes or you can work with a company like Perception System to completely customize the setup according to your own website theme.

The good thing about the combination of WordPress and WooCommerce is that you can install the entire CMS setup under your own domain, using your own web hosting account. Since the entire platform is open source, you can change every aspect of your e-commerce store.

Another option for a smaller store is Shopify. It is a hosted CMS solution which means, it is a “software as a service” model and you access your inventory using an API. It is one of the easiest ways of starting an e-commerce website, but the scope of customization is limited. Nonetheless, it gives you a good start.

Offered by Adobe, Magento is widely used as an e-commerce solution. It is developed in PHP. It is free source. It gives you all SEO features you need to improve your e-commerce search engine rankings. It easily scales, although, for a small e-commerce website, it is not recommended. It has a huge community of developers so new add-ons and extensions are continuously being added. It has been in usage for many years and in fact, it is one of the first open source e-commerce systems. Perception System has used Magento extensively to build large-scale e-commerce websites for many clients.

Talking about one of the first open source e-commerce systems, OSCommerce is also one of the oldest contenders. If you have been hosting your website you must have come across the ability to install OSCommerce in almost every web hosting package.

Compared to other options available on the web, OSCommerce may seem like something bare minimums, but since it is an open source project it can be tweaked and customized as per your need. Having said that, you may need web development expertise to make the necessary changes.

Looking for a .NET solution? Then you may like to check out NopCommerce. Unlike many Microsoft products, NopCommerce is an open source e-commerce engine. You can use multiple plug-ins to expand its features. One of the best things about the NopCommerce e-commerce CMS solution is that it allows customers to log in using their Facebook login.

Then we come to PrestaShop, which is a good alternative to Magento. Unlike most of the e-commerce CMS solutions discussed above, PrestaShop too is open source and comes 100% free if you intend to use it out-of-the-box. Small, just 6 MB. You can set it up in a few minutes.

As the name itself suggests, OpenCart is open source. It accommodates internationalization by default. It supports all contemporary digital wallets. It gives you basic e-commerce functions, but it is not much for higher customization and running a full-fledged e-commerce store.

What about Drupal? Isn’t it a renowned ecommerce CMS?

When it comes to content management systems, Drupal is the workhorse. Its current version is called Drupal 8. At Perception System, we have extensively worked in Drupal with normal CMS-based websites as well as e-commerce portals. In fact, it can be one of the best e-commerce solutions for your website.

It is best suited for complicated, bigger projects and in fact, its benefits for an e-commerce portal are so wide-ranging that we will be covering them in a dedicated blog post.

Choosing the right CMS solution for your e-commerce portal depends on exactly what you intend to achieve.

Every e-commerce business is unique and consequently, you may have unique requirements. Therefore, some CMS solutions may be an overkill, and some may underperform and hold you back.

Your ultimate decision may rest to select the right ecommerce CMS depends upon the following factors:

  • Your overall budget.
  • Your marketing needs.
  • The number of products you intend to sell.
  • The range of merchants you want to accommodate.
  • How much help is required from the online community?
  • Whether you are going to need multisite functionality.
  • Ability to generate and export reports in multiple formats.
  • Search engine optimization potential.
  • Internal search engine for managing inventory.
  • Mobile friendliness.
  • Checkout and gateway configurations.

It is always advisable to work with an experienced company like Perception System. We have been deploying enterprise level and smaller e-commerce systems for a worldwide clientele using a wide range of CMS solutions. We are in a better position to tell you exactly which CMS solution is going to be the best for your e-commerce store.

Contact us to know more about how we can help you.

ecommerce expert
Jullie Roslin
Jullie Roslin is the resident E-commerce Expert at Perception System Pvt. Ltd having rich 8 years of experience in the eCommerce industry. She possesses extensive experience working in the technology industries and is responsible for introducing emerging eCommerce trends to the team.