Comparing the Best eCommerce Platforms for Apparel

July 14, 2020
Posted in Industries
July 14, 2020 Will Daniel

Comparing-the-Best-eCommerce-Platforms-for-Apparel

Are you starting a clothing company but struggling to decide which eCommerce platform to use?

From data analytics to tech support, there are a lot of features to consider. Choosing the right eCommerce platform is never easy.

Still, finding a platform that suits your needs can make all the difference for your apparel company’s bottom line.

Keep reading to learn more about what you should be looking for in an eCommerce platform.

What should my eCommerce platform have?

Many apparel business owners often ask the question, ‘what is the best eCommerce platform?’

The reality is there is no ‘best eCommerce platform.’ It all depends on your apparel business’s unique needs.

That being said, there are a few things every appeal company should be looking for if they want the best possible eCommerce clothing store.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features

One of the most important qualities of an eCommerce platform is its SEO functionality. Without SEO features and the availability of quality SEO plug-ins, your site won’t be of much use. Why? Because it doesn’t matter if you have the most beautiful site in the world if no one can find it online. SEO helps make sites discoverable on search engines, where almost 93% of all web traffic comes from, which makes it critical for eCommerce platforms.

2. Integration with social media and other eCommerce platforms

Integration with Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, and more is a must for many clothing companies who get a large portion of their revenue from indirect sales. If your business relies on Amazon sales, make sure your platform makes that as easy as possible to continue.

3. Security features

There were over 160 million customer records stolen in 2019 alone. And, 60% of companies close within six months of a hack. Security is critical for eCommerce companies. From firewalls to payment gateways, encryption, and backups, your eCommerce platform should have it all.

4. Quality tech support

If you aren’t technically inclined, make sure you select an eCommerce platform with tech support and easy-to-use features. Many of the top platforms only offer online tickets and chat support, instead of over the phone service.

5. Multiple payment options

Can you take Apple Pay, American Express, and Visa Checkout? Being able to process every common payment method possible is especially important in the trendy fashion industry.

6. Data recovery and analytics

Using data to enhance product recommendations, offerings, and services can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Some of the more advanced AI-based services that help do this cost more, but they can be worth it. Many of the top clothing companies in the world are using AI.

7. Aspirational and peer users

Who is using the platform? If there are established or rising clothing companies using your eCommerce platform, it’s a great sign. If not, it could pay to find out why.

The best eCommerce platforms for apparel

1. Magento eCommerce

Owned by Adobe, Magento is the eCommerce platform of choice for many of the most renowned fashion brands in the world, including Hermès and Christian Louboutin. Every year their platform handles over $100 billion in gross merchandise volume, and they boast some 190,000 active users.

Magento is known for its customizability, which attracts many of the more influential brands. However, there are some downsides, as well.

✅ Pros of Magento for eCommerce apparel

  • Customizability. Magento does not believe one size fits all. Using the Magento page builder and basic coding skills, you can make your Magento eCommerce platform unique.
  • Integration. From Amazon to Facebook, Magento allows you to integrate easily with other sales and social media channels.
  • Product Recommendations. Magento has one of the top product recommendations tools around. Powered by the AI technology of Adobe Sensei, the recommendations will boost your revenue without you having to lift a finger.
  • Search Engine Optimization. There are strong SEO features that come pre-installed like custom formatting, speed optimization, and more with Magento. Plus, Magento’s Extensions Marketplace offers dozens of SEO tool add-ons.
  • Magento CE. There is an open Source Code version available for small businesses for free! Don’t get too excited, though. It doesn’t offer all the same features, and you’ll still need to pay for hosting.
  • Quality Analytics. Magento Business Intelligence (BI). Use business analytics to analyze your top customers, products, and promotions to find new growth opportunities. Share insights across your organization with just a few clicks.
  • Strong Security. Magento Security has all the top eCommerce security features from encryption to a Web Application Firewall.

❎ Cons of Magento for eCommerce apparel

  • High-costs. To install Magento EE Enterprise alone will cost you $22,000, but the price can go as high as $200,000 for large companies. There are cheaper versions available, like Magento EE Cloud and Magento CE Community. However, multiple agencies put the actual costs of design implementation and hosting for Magento in the tens or even hundreds of thousands, no matter the version. That is unless you have the coding skills to do it yourself.
  • Time-to-market. Magento’s customizability is a great asset, but it also makes it more difficult to create a site quickly. Most Magento users hire programmers to roll out their site.
  • The difficulty of use. Magento is not easy to use in comparison with a lot of other platforms on this list. You’ll need to know how to code with PHP, Java, and HTML to create a fully-capable site.

Bottom Line: At the end of the day, Magento offers a lot of upsides, especially for fast-growing or larger clothing companies. However, many startup clothing companies or small apparel businesses may struggle to pay high startup-costs. Still, if you’re looking for a scalable long-term solution that is backed by the best in the business, Magento is the answer.

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is by far the most popular eCommerce platform on the internet. In fact, there are an incredible 3.87 million live WooCommerce sites all around the world. The main reason WooCommerce is so prevalent is due to its software integration with WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems.

Several up and coming eCommerce websites use WooCommerce, so you’ll have a good peer group if you use this platform, too. For example, Elizabeth Rose, the award-winning, independent boutique, has a beautiful website worth replicating (with your unique spin, of course).

Elizabeth Rose

✅ Pros of WooCommerce for eCommerce apparel

  • Quick-to-market. Easy to use basic themes and plug-ins make for quick-to-market clothing stores if you aren’t looking to customize.
  • WordPress Compatibility. If you already have a WordPress site, WooCommerce will be the easiest platform to install and get running. The compatibility also makes accepting payments and optimizing for search engines far easier.
  • Customizable storefronts. The Elizabeth Rose store above is the perfect example of the unique, stylish looks that you can create with customizable storefronts on WooCommerce.
  • Pricing. The core WooCommerce plug-in is free, and add-ons are affordable.
  • SEO. WooCommerce is also your best option for SEO purposes. It has tons of SEO plug-in options. For example, Yoast SEO plug-in is easy to use on WordPress and can help boost your clothing site up search engine rankings.

❎ Cons of WooCommerce for eCommerce apparel

  • Tech Support. WooCommerce doesn’t provide over the phone support. To get a question answered, you have to submit a ticket online.
  • Ease of use. Plug-ins can get complicated. And depending on the theme you choose, you might need to know a considerable amount about PHP and HTML coding.
  • You can only use WooCommerce on WordPress. If you have a Wix or Squarespace site, you’ll have to look elsewhere for an eCommerce platform.

Bottom Line: WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce site for a reason. If you run a small business on a WordPress site, WooCommerce can help you establish a robust, professional store without the costs or hassle of other eCommerce platforms. Plus, it’s one of the easiest platforms to optimize for search engines, which means more revenue!

3. Shopify eCommerce

Shopify is probably the most well-known eCommerce platform around, but lately, it’s lost market share to WooCommerce. Now, WooCommerce is the industry leader, and Shopify holds just under 20% market share. Although the company still managed to earn over $1.5 billion in revenue in 2019 alone.

Several well-known clothing companies use Shopify, including:

  • Turtle Beach
  • Sephora
  • All Birds
  • Rebecca Minkoff
  • Gym Shark
  • MVMT Watches

All in all, Shopify has a lot of appealing features, especially for first-time site developers.

✅ Pros of Shopify for eCommerce apparel

  • A quality Point of Sale (POS) system. Shopify’s POS System connects in-store sales with your online Shopify system. That way, all your data is in one place. For clothing companies with a brick and mortar presence, this is a big deal.
  • 24/7 technical support. Shopify offers some of the best technical support around including over the phone service, email correspondence, and live chat.
  • Easy to use and integrate. Shopify has a clean user interface with a modern content management system. It’s also effortless to navigate to and connect with Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • Low-costs. Shopify is one of the cheapest eCommerce platforms to start with, and fees are reasonable after that.

❎ Cons of Shopify for eCommerce apparel

  • Liquid. To make changes to your Shopify store, you have to learn the company’s coding language called Liquid.
  • Fewer available themes. There are fewer themes available on Shopify than Wix or WooCommerce. Which can make a lot of Shopify stores look similar.

Bottom Line: What is the best eCommerce platform for the technologically challenged? Shopify. Shopify’s codeless design and easy to use interface mean you can start a store with little technical knowledge. Plus, you can always upgrade to Shopify Plus if you need more features down the road.

4. BigCommerce

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, BigCommerce is one of the smaller eCommerce companies on this list. Still, they are growing fast. In fact, in 2019, the company surpassed $100 million in annual revenue for the first time.

The platform also boasts both up and coming and established apparel brands, including:

  • American Apparel
  • Verge Girl
  • Tucker Blair
  • Rollie Nation
  • Natori
  • TYLER’S

BigCommerce has a few cool features that might attract first-time eCommerce site developers as well, like in-depth analytics. They also have some of the most stylish sites around. For example, TYLER’S started a successful Birkenstock sandals website that now earns thousands in revenue every month.

Birkenstock Tylers

✅ Pros of BigCommerce for eCommerce apparel

  • Detailed analytics and reporting. BigCommerce delivers the most comprehensive reports on eCommerce sales of any of the top eCommerce platforms. Conversion rates, individualized reports for each sales channel, it’s all actionable analysis that can help your clothing company build revenue.
  • Easy Integration with other sales channels and apps. With BigCommerce, you can sell everywhere, from Amazon to Instagram. Then, you can see how your company performed all from one location. BigCommerce also allows you to integrate sales data with applications like Intuit Quickbooks with ease.
  • Integrated education. BigCommerce comes with instructions and helpful blog posts integrated into their service. For first time users, this can be a huge benefit.

❎ Cons of BigCommerce for eCommerce apparel

  • Technical Support. There is 24/7 email and chat support, but no one to call in a worst-case scenario.
  • Fewer templates and themes than competitors. When you get BigCommerce, you’ll have access to around 80 free and paid themes. That doesn’t compare with the thousands that other platforms have.
  • No ‘one-click’ selling feature. All of the other platforms on this list have a one-click selling feature available through an add-on or plug-in.

Bottom Line: BigCommerce is best for companies that need to do a lot with their eCommerce clothing stores and have deep pockets. Why? Instead of working off a fee-based system, BigCommerce caps your sales based on the ‘tier level’ you have purchased. Advanced features like the abandoned cart add-on or shipping integrations are only available if you buy top-level tiers, which can cost thousands. Still, BigCommerce is scalable and a great option for many apparel brands.

5. OpenCart

OpenCart is another prominent eCommerce platform for fashion brands that now boasts over 350,000 active online stores. Its open-source code isn’t the easiest to use, but it can be scaled and has plenty of customizability.

OpenCart also has some unique apparel specific themes, that may draw in first-time fashion entrepreneurs.

popular style media

✅ Pros of OpenCart for eCommerce apparel

  • Easy setup. If you use one of the premade templates from OpenCart, setting up a shop is fast and easy.
  • Cost. OpenCart is an open-source platform meaning it is free, but you will have to provide your hosting. Additionally, you’ll have to pay for extensions and add-ons, but most are one time costs instead of monthly fees.
  • Dedicated Tech Support. OpenCart offers the usual chat and email customer service for customers, which isn’t the best. However, there is also a paid service called OpenCart Dedicated Support that can be used to help you install/configure your site, fix technical issues, and more.

❎ Cons of OpenCart eCommerce apparel

  • Difficult to customize without a developer. OpenCart isn’t the best option for less tech-savvy clothing companies. You’ll most likely need a PHP developer if you want to customize your eCommerce site on OpenCart.
  • Purchasing modules. Although OpenCart is free to download, to make the site user friendly and improve SEO, you’re going to need to purchase modules which can be expensive.

Bottom Line: If you need a shop with customizability or if you need specific eCommerce functions and you don’t mind more technical PHP coding, then OpenCart is a great option. It’s a scalable solution that can do everything the big boys can, often for less. However, it also is known to have bugs after updates and is run by one of the smaller companies on this list, which gives them fewer resources for future advances.

6. Big Cartel

Big Cartel makes eCommerce clothing stores easy. It’s all about helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, and even side-hustlers make some extra money with an online store that doesn’t take forever to create.

You won’t need any coding skills either; Big Cartel comes with unique, interesting premade themes that make it easy to create your online store. For example, Laurie Lee, in London, created a trendy spot to sell their distinctive hand-painted clothes.

Laurie Lee

✅ Pros of Big Cartel for eCommerce apparel

  • Easy of use. Themes are easy to set up and easy to navigate for customers. There are also plenty of user-friendly prompts that help you navigate the eCommerce creation process.
  • Set up and sell online for cheap. Big Cartel is the cheapest option available to set up and sell online. If you’re looking to test the waters with an idea or sell individual pieces, this is the spot.

❎ Cons of Big Cartel for eCommerce apparel

  • Scalability. Big Cartel isn’t really meant for big companies or rapidly growing startups. The majority of Big Cartel’s clients are entrepreneurs or hobbyists.
  • Lack of search engine optimization features. There just aren’t many SEO plug-ins or add-ons available to help move your Big Cartel site up search engine rankings. You’ll need to rely more on social media and paid ads for marketing with a Big Cartel site.

Bottom Line: If you’re an entrepreneur or small apparel company owner that wants to leave Etsy, Big Cartel is for you. It’s easy to use, far cheaper than the competition, and can still yield big results. However, it’s not a long-term scalable solution.

Struggling to find the right eCommerce platform for your clothing company? Get some expert help.

From apparel search engine optimization to eCommerce security, there’s a lot you have to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform.

If you’re struggling to find a platform to fit all your needs, don’t be afraid to get some input from the experts. If you want to learn more about the top eCommerce platforms, feel free to contact us for more information.

Markitors is an internet marketing agency with a focus on SEO. We help small businesses rank higher on Google to draw more leads to websites and increase revenue. Explore what’s in our SEO toolbox: audits and keyword research, digital PR, technical SEO, and local SEO.

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Will Daniel

William Daniel is an SEO content writer at Markitors. Helping connect small businesses with their customers by creating great content is his passion.