10 Best eCommerce CMS You Can Use For Your Online Business
The global economy is still suffering uncertainty from the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the eCommerce industry continues to grow steadily. According to Insider Intelligence, eCommerce sales will account for 20.3% (over €5 trillion) of global retail sales by the end of the year. The Irish eCommerce industry, in particular, is worth over €7 billion.
If there’s an industry that presents a strong opportunity for growth, then it is the eCommerce industry.
Such a thriving industry is bound to attract investors. Competition in the eCommerce space is growing fiercer by the day. If you are an eCommerce entrepreneur, one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition is through content marketing. In this article, we’ll look at why your eCommerce store needs a content management system (CMS), why you should have a separate CMS from your store, and the best CMS platforms to use for content marketing.
What is an eCommerce CMS?
A content management system is an application used to create, edit, and publish online content. It enables eCommerce businesses to manage and distribute their content without needing specialized technical or coding knowledge.
There are two main types of CMS:
Hosted CMS: These are offered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) and are usually cloud-based. After you pay a subscription fee, data storage and software updates are usually handled by the vendor. You don’t have to download anything. Some of the most common examples of hosted CMS include Shopify, BigCommerce, WordPress, and Squarespace.
Open-Source CMS: Unlike hosted CMS, you can download open-source CMS and host it on your servers. It gives you full control over the website’s functionality, maintenance, and software updates. Examples of open-source CMS are Magento and WooCommerce. It’s important to note that some open-source CMS such as Magento also offer a cloud-hosted option. But you’ll still be responsible for its maintenance.
Instead of having to build your own system for managing online content from scratch, CMS handles the basic infrastructure of such a system so you can focus on the user-facing components of the website.
A content management system is made up of a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA). CMA allows you to publish and manage content while CDA serves as the backend.
CMS and eCommerce Platforms: What’s The Difference?
As we’ve mentioned, CMS is software for creating, publishing, and managing digital content. While they have evolved in recent years to include eCommerce functionalities, their primary function is to manage website content. That’s it.
CMS platforms are a tool for branding and digital marketing.
On the other hand, an eCommerce platform is a system designed for selling products and services. Some of the basic features of an eCommerce platform include product catalogues, shopping carts, inventory, and shipping management. eCommerce platforms do not have in-built content management features. Their primary purpose is to enable businesses to sell online. However, most of them allow store owners to add content management plugins.
It is an administrative or operational tool for selling products, managing orders, and processing payments.
Should You Have a Separate CMS for Your eCommerce Store?
Without a doubt, content marketing can have a massive ROI for your online business. It enables you to provide valuable information to your customers before asking them to buy your products. Even when you sell products through your content, your customers will still feel valued and understood because you’re trying to bridge the information gap. It’s no surprise that 46% of businesses plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2022.
Content marketing helps to drive sales. However, a major dilemma for most eCommerce businesses is whether or not they should have a separate CMS platform.
The primary functions of CMS and eCommerce platforms are entirely different. For this reason alone, they should be independent of one another. But their functions overlap and they complement each other. Content marketing helps plays a key role in lead generation and conversion. So why would you need two separate platforms for both content marketing and the online store?
Luckily, this is a dilemma that shouldn’t give you any headache. Most of the technology today allows you to easily integrate a CMS into your eCommerce store and vice versa.
Advantages of Integrating CMS Platforms Into Your eCommerce Store
The problem is that many online business owners see eCommerce and CMS platforms as two independent business solutions. Integrating the two platforms will help you to boost your content marketing efforts, generate high-quality leads, and increase your conversion rates.
Some of the benefits of integrating CMS platforms into your eCommerce store include:
The Ease of Use: Integrated CMS solutions are easy to use. You can quickly learn how to publish updates and make product modifications if you’re using CMS for eCommerce. The user-friendliness of modern CMS solutions ensures you don’t need technical skills to handle content and product updates.
This means you can spend more time on implementing and improving your content marketing strategy instead of teaching your employees how to use the system.
Seamless User Experience: 88% of online shoppers won’t return to your website if they have a negative user experience. Not only that, but consumers are also more likely to share a bad user experience with their friends and family.
Now you understand how important a seamless user experience is to grow your online business.
One of the things that could impact the user experience is having separate CMS and eCommerce platforms. Visitors will have to keep shuffling between different sites when looking for information and when making a purchase. It creates a disconnected user experience and leads to a higher bounce rate. An integrated CMS platform enables your users to browse through your sites smoothly without any distractions.
Personalization: Using CMS for eCommerce allows you greater personalization not only for your content but also for products. It enables you to create a personalized user experience for your web visitors. You can tie specific content to particular product pages. For example, if a visitor is looking for a high-capacity mixer machine, you can provide a link to an informative blog about high-end mixers. Or offer a 10% discount on kitchen equipment to users reading an article about how to start a bakery business.
More importantly, you can customize content depending on the buyer’s stage in the sales funnel. The greater the level of personalization, the better the results.
Mobile-Friendliness: Mobile traffic keeps growing by the year. The majority of your eCommerce website traffic comes from mobile devices. If you think that optimizing your website for mobile devices isn’t important, think about this- 72.9% of global retail e-commerce in 2021 came from mobile devices.
Integrating CMS with your eCommerce store creates a seamless user experience, especially for mobile users. Most CMS platforms are designed to be responsive to mobile devices and your posts will be great on screens of every size.
Flexibility: Since the pandemic, there has been a massive shift in consumer behaviour. Consumers have become pickier and their preferences are ever-changing. Integrating CMS for eCommerce allows you the flexibility to keep up with the constantly changing trends in the eCommerce space while keeping your customers satisfied and happy.
Simple Maintenance: When you have all your platforms integrated into a central place, it becomes easier to undertake web redesign and redevelopment projects. You can easily tweak the design and structure of your website or make updates to your eCommerce store.
In the long run, it will save you time and money by integrating your CMS platform into your eCommerce store.
Essential Features to Look Out for in an eCommerce CMS
Finding the right CMS is a key component to growing your eCommerce business. Besides having to choose between self-hosted and cloud-hosted CMS platforms, you’ll also need to look out for essential features suitable for your online store. Here are some basic features you should look out for when shopping for a CMS solution:
1. Available Range of Tools and Plugins
Here’s the bitter truth very few people would be willing to tell you. There’s no perfect CMS platform. You’ll never find everything you need in a single CMS. You also need to keep your options open for scalability in the future. This is where other tools and plugins come in.
In addition to seamless integration with your existing tech stack, a good CMS should also offer the flexibility to easily install and activate plugins when you need to. The available range of tools and plugins is also a good indicator of how API-friendly and popular the CMS is.
2. Easy to Use
As a business owner, you already have enough on your hands. Content marketing shouldn’t give you additional stress. You should go for a CMS platform that’s easy to set up, manage, and maintain. It should also be easy to onboard and train new employees on how to use the system. The CMS should empower you to move fast and offer the best user experience possible regardless of your technical skills.
Nothing should be too complex for you. From content updates to page designs and layouts, plugin integrations, and search engine optimization.
3. Offsite Marketing and Sales Optimization
Customer retention is very crucial to growing your revenue and your online business. The best CMS for eCommerce should enable you to engage with and convert customers back to the site for repeat purchases. Some of the primary offsite marketing and sales optimization features your CMS should offer are:
Email marketing automation: Your CMS platform should enable you to build and nurture your email subscriber list. It should also be able to send automated and highly-personalized email campaigns to web visitors based on their actions and behaviours on the site.
For example, customers who abandon their carts can receive emails with offers and discounts encouraging them to complete their purchase.
Customer support management system: Top-notch customer service will earn you the trust and loyalty of your customers. Your CMS should enable you to provide just that. It should have features that ensure an easy, fast, and efficient handling of customer queries and complaints. One of the most important customer support tools for CMS today are chatbots.
4. Testing and Analytics Features
The ability to leverage data will help you to grow your eCommerce business. Customer insights, conversion trends, performance of your content, name it. They enable you to optimize your digital marketing and business strategies accordingly.
Some of the CMS features you need to make data-driven decisions include:
Analytics integration: Integrations such as Google Analytics together with in-built report dashboards will help you to make sense of insights, make comparisons with industry benchmarks, and come up with actionable recommendations for a specific page or the whole website.
A/B testing: The best way to know what works for your website is to do A/B testing and analyze the results. A/B testing will help you to determine which design, functionality, or content will offer the best customer experience.
You will be able to optimize every single element of your eCommerce website if you’re using a CMS that contains effective A/B testing tools.
Search engine optimization is very important for eCommerce. According to research, organic search accounts for up to 53% of all website traffic. Even if you’re not an SEO expert, a good CMS will help you to implement the best SEO practices and optimize your site for organic visitors. You should look out for the following SEO features:
Page URLs: Page URLs are critical to web page ranking on search engines. Keyword-optimized URLs will have a better ranking than those that don’t. The shorter the URL, the more effective it is in SEO. A good CMS should enable you to control and manage your page URLs manually.
Navigation links: Just like page URLs, you should also be able to manually manage navigation links for SEO purposes. This gives you control of how your website navigation is structured for optimal customer experience and search engine web crawling.
Page titles and meta descriptions: Page titles and meta descriptions can make or break your SEO efforts. The page title should always contain the primary keyword. They appear as clickable headlines on search engine result pages (SERPs). On the other hand, meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on search rankings but play an important role in improving the click-through rate (CTR).
The page title and meta descriptions should be optimized on all your web pages for maximum ROI. Your CMS, in addition to being able to auto-generate the two elements, should enable you to edit the page URL and add meta descriptions.
Social sharing buttons: Social media is an indispensable content distribution channel in any content marketing strategy. You should be able to share your content on various social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube (for video content). There are CMS platforms that may require you to pay additional licensing fees for social sharing capabilities or buy a plugin for the same. Always go for platforms that offer social sharing as a basic feature.
You should also look out for the ability to optimize the user experience. A good eCommerce CMS should offer flexible design options, content personalization and product recommendations, mobile optimization, simple checkout processes, and effective inventory management among others. Remember that 88% of your customers won’t return to your website if they have a negative user experience.
Top 10 Best eCommerce CMS Platforms To Consider (and why)
There’s no perfect one-size-fits-all CMS platform that can accommodate every eCommerce business. When shopping for a CMS for eCommerce, it’s important to consider your custom business needs, requirement, and content marketing goals.
There are several CMS platforms for eCommerce in the market. Choosing one to use for your eCommerce business can be difficult. Here are 10 great options you can consider:
BigCommerce is a SaaS platform that offers a paid, hosted CMS solution. It’s one of the best platforms to use if you’re just starting out and want a plug-and-play solution. Some of the features of BigCommerce include:
Ability to segment customers for product access and promotions
Custom pricing depending on customer levels
A single control panel for managing your entire product catalogue
Ability to customize and automate tax calculations
Allowing customers to initiate refunds
One of the biggest advantages of using BigCommerce is that it allows you to connect to other CMS solutions so you can enjoy the benefits of two eCommerce platforms from a single solution.
Shopify holds almost 11% of the global eCommerce market share. Only WooCommerce (powered by WordPress) and Squarespace command a larger share of the market. It’s not difficult to see why eCommerce businesses prefer hosting their stores on the platform.
According to its 2019 State of Commerce Report, more than 50% of Shopify stores get repeat purchases. The average buyer will shop from a Shopify store at least 3.8 times.
Just like BigCommerce, Shopify is a cloud-hosted CMS where you can get your store running immediately after signing up. It is easy to use, highly customizable, and offers a number of plugins for users. Some of the features of Shopify are:
A free SSL certificate
Option of free shipping for customers
Segment customers depending on demographics such as location, age, and purchase history
Automatic stock tracking so sales stop when a product runs out of stock
Low credit card rate with no hidden fees
Shopify is a platform that suits all types and sizes of business, from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to established businesses. There’s also a Shopify app so you can manage your store even when you are on the move.
If you’re looking for a self-hosted CMS, Prestashop is one of the top options you can consider. However, you will need to have some experience in web development to be able to install and set up your online store. The upside is that Prestashop comes with a lot of in-built features so you won’t need a lot of extensions or plugins.
Some of Prestashop’s standout features include:
Customized message for displaying out-of-stock products
Ability to categorize buyers based on purchasing behaviour
Various discount offers depending on products, orders, and category of customer
Quick process for customers to create their accounts in your store
Allowing customers to validate their orders
Customized tax calculation depending on the customer’s location
Many eCommerce businesses also use Prestashop because they don’t have to pay any license fees for developing and managing their stores.
With over 250,000 online stores, Magento is one of the best eCommerce platforms in the world. It is an eCommerce platform but also offers top-notch CMS features for content marketing. If you want to go all out on your eCommerce store, then Magento is one of the best options you can consider. It also offers great customization and high-level scalability to grow your business.
Other features of the platform include:
Ability to categorize buyers on wish list items, gender, and order history among other demographics
Display customized content, pricing, and product promotions to customers depending on their categories
Faster checkout process by allowing customers to saved payment and shipping information
Automated upselling, cross-selling, and product recommendations to specific customer segments
Centralized dashboard for monitoring shopping carts, sales, search terms, and data on best-selling products
But be prepared to dip into your pockets. While it’s a free-to-download open source software, you may have to pay for hosting services, website development, themes, and other add-ons. The installation process is also much longer and more complex than the other solutions.
We can help you with Magento web development.
OpenCart offers both open source and cloud-hosted plans with the cloud option being a paid plan. Unlike Magento, it’s a relatively lightweight platform and suitable for SMEs working on a lean budget. But you will still need basic technical knowledge to run an online store on OpenCart, especially if you opt for the free version.
OpenCart offers the following features:
A centralized dashboard for managing customers, orders, sales, and analytics
The ability to manage multiple stores from a single admin interface
Back data and restoration
Easy-to-update elements including products and product categories
Automated shipping rates from major shipping companies
The ability to segment customers based on location, gender, wish list, and order history
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on extensions and plugins, then OpenCart should be among the platforms to consider.
Wix is majorly a CMS that also offers eCommerce features. It’s similar to WordPress and Squarespace. You can easily create a website on the platform using its drag-and-drop editor. One of the biggest advantages of using Wix is that it offers a lot of third-party social media integration to facilitate multi-channel selling. It also has pre-built templates and advanced features such as:
An intuitive visual builder with over 100 user interface elements
Integrated marketing tools
A professional mailbox for your store
Customized domain name
Detailed performance and content analytics
Some businesses just want to keep their store simple and straightforward. If you’re one of them, Wix is among the top platforms you should consider.
7. WordPress (WooCommerce)
WordPress is the largest CMS platform in the world. It powers about 43% of the websites on the internet. WordPress has a large assortment of free and paid themes and plugins that can help to enhance your website performance and user experience. It also offers an eCommerce plugin called WooCommerce.
One of the reasons why WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce platform is that it comes with a simple installation process and easy customization options. Other features available on the platform are:
Free shipping based on the customer’s location or type of products
Automatic calculation of tax and shipping charges
Display related products for customers
Simple one-click refunds
Add products to blog posts using shortcodes
WordPress is a great option for building a unique online brand with its customization options. You’ll also have access to a large online community for help and support.
Get expert WordPress web development.
Drupal is an open-source CMS platform similar to WordPress. It offers an eCommerce plugin called Ubercart that enables you to add frameworks and other plugins to create an eCommerce store. You’ll however need some web development experience to be able to build an online store on Drupal.
Some of Drupal’s notable features include:
High flexibility and customization
An in-built workflow system
Multiple language support
Ability to install powerful modules to boost your SEO
The main drawback is that Drupal can be difficult to use. But if you’re up to the task, or can hire an expert Drupal developer to help you, you can create an incredibly unique online store.
Volusion is a cloud-based SaaS solution like Shopify. It’s a plug-and-play platform that enables you to easily set up your online store and add products. There are about 13 free templates and themes you can choose from. Volusion is a low-cost platform that offers all the basic features you’d need in a CMS solution for eCommerce.
Its notable features include:
Automated inventory management
Secure payment options
Good SEO performance
Integration options with online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplaces, eBay, and Amazon
If you’re just starting out on eCommerce and have a limited number of products, then you should go for Volusion.
This is the second-largest CMS platform after WordPress. Just like WordPress, Squarespace is a blogging platform that also enables you to build an online store. It’s an all-in-one content marketing platform that also offers domain registration and hosting services. This means that you can’t host your website on private servers.
But it has powerful design building tools and impressive template designs. Its other features include:
Creative UI/UX design
Rich product listings
Drag and drop tools
Secure checkout process
Efficient logistics management
Squarespace is one of the easiest eCommerce website builders. Its design tools also enable you to build an attractive online store.
Other great CMS options you can consider include Ecwid, Joomla, Sitecore, and Hubspot.
Get Started on Content Marketing with Salt Marketing
In the cutthroat eCommerce industry, the quality of your website will determine whether you thrive or sink. A great CMS for eCommerce will help you to build a website that puts you above your competition. Hopefully, this guide has made you aware of some of the best CMS options available in the market (and some of the key features to look out for).
If you need any help in developing an eCommerce website, reach out to Salt Marketing. Our web development experts are ready to listen to your needs and build a custom-made eCommerce website suited to your business.