In this day and age, you no longer need to manually input information or tediously code functionality into your website to cater to your customers.
An e-commerce content management system (CMS) is what you can use to create, control and actively monitor your business’s entire site with minimal to no hassle at all (no coding experience needed!).
In this article, we’ll talk about what is an e-commerce CMS, key features and top CMS for e-commerce. Explore more below!
- What is an e-commerce CMS?
- Why do you need an e-commerce CMS?
- Key features of CMS for e-commerce
- 10 best CMS for e-commerce (both free & paid!)
- How to choose a CMS for your online business?
- Some last words
What is an e-commerce CMS?
A content management system, often abbreviated as CMS, is a software application that helps users create, modify and manage digital content without having to code.
Accordingly, an e-commerce CMS provides digital merchants with easy-to-use tools to manage content on their online shops.
Why do you need an e-commerce CMS?
Learning how to code, building a tech team or hiring a freelance developer are viable options for creating an e-commerce site.
With an e-commerce CMS, however, you can easily change the looks of your shop, publish blog posts on your website, and add news about upcoming promotions — all without having to create the heavy lines of code from scratch.
Utilizing an e-commerce CMS can therefore save you significant time and money in e-commerce website development, allowing you to better allocate your company’s resources to other areas like business growth.
It also gives you greater control over your site’s content and improved agility, as you don’t have to ping or bother your software engineer every time you need something changed on your website.
Key features of CMS for e-commerce
As more e-commerce businesses emerge, the needs and demands of online shop owners or managers become apparent, and many CMS have features tailored for online stores.
Below are four key features that are desirable, if not essential for anyone wishing to have a smooth and efficient time managing their online store. Check them out!
1. The basics: Create, add, delete, and modify
All of the best e-commerce CMS solutions have pegged the basics down so that anyone can manage their online businesses swiftly and easily.
In particular, the fully-functioning core features of creating, adding, deleting and modifying content that do not require any coding skills are the first things you should look for in a CMS for e-commerce.
2. Support, guides, and flexibility
The whole purpose of an e-commerce CMS is to make your life easier with regard to the design and management of your online shop. Hence, a number of content management systems already come with pre-built templates or pages that you can choose from and edit to meet your vision for your site.
A platform that is a SaaS (software as a service) CMS, for example, may come with its own server, templates and data storage functionality that reduce the work you need to do, though occasionally in exchange for less customization features.
On the other hand, an open-source CMS grants you the ability to design, create, and modify your online store in any way, but you would still need to find your own server, hosting solutions, and maintenance software to support it.
3. Integrations and plugins: You don’t need to limit yourself!
There may come a time when you find a unique feature or better function offered by another tech company or platform that isn’t available on your chosen CMS.
Don’t worry though! Many content management systems for e-commerce offer integrations or plugins that allow you to effortlessly connect them with new functions or widgets that you find.
For example, the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is one way to connect a payment gateway to your e-commerce store to facilitate online payment processing.
4. e-Commerce platform with CMS features: Blended is better
While an e-commerce CMS shares some common features with an e-commerce platform, the two software applications aren’t synonymous.
An e-commerce platform is what you typically use to conduct transactions, sell products, and manage your inventory. Popular examples include Shopify, Shopline and BigCommerce. The CMS, on the other hand, is what you use to manage the online store that other people can see.
That being said, some software companies often offer e-commerce platforms that also have CMS functionalities. If your e-commerce platform, marketing and CMS are all in one place, then you can respond to changes and trends much more efficiently while keeping a close watch on just about everything in your store.
10 best CMS for e-commerce (both free & paid!)
Choosing an e-commerce CMS is hard especially when you don’t have prior knowledge or experience in building an online shop before.
What are the big names in the CMS space? What kind of integrations should you be looking for? What are the points to note about different CMS for e-commerce?
No worries, Choco Up has got you covered!
Below is a list of top e-commerce CMS commonly used among online businesses. We’ve also prepared a comparison table to help you evaluate different options against each other.
List of 10 e-commerce CMS:
- Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
For those who enjoy writing or programming, WordPress has been one of the top spots for content management and website building since 2003.
The company started out as a blogging site, but later on evolved to provide a full suite of website building and reporting tools that help individual users and businesses keep accurate track of their online activities.
Shopify, as evidenced by its name, serves as an all-in-one content management system and e-commerce platform that empowers users to effectively display products, market their businesses, and conduct secure transactions from around the globe.
Being a big name in the web development industry, Wix may have been something you might have heard of from a YouTube ad or a website pop-up on your phone.
The company dubs itself “The Leader in Website Creation”, offering a wide array of colorful and dynamic templates. Their customization and analytics features are rather limited though.
Squarespace is another great option for beginners starting their own online stores.
This platform works similar to Wix, as they offer a wealth of templates that you can edit with simple actions like dragging and dropping.
They additionally have a mobile commerce shopping cart that makes browsing, shopping and payments easier on a phone or tablet, though Squarespace is likewise limited in its customization and e-commerce functions.
As an open-source CMS solution, Drupal provides a conducive online environment with a clean slate.
Using Drupal may be difficult for those without prior programming skills or knowledge, but it does provide a clear framework you could use to create a truly unique and seamless online store.
Thus, this solution would entail you doing it all yourself or hiring a freelancer to do it for you.
6. Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
Previously known as Magento, Adobe Commerce enables integrations that would allow you to include chatbots and customer relationship management (CRM) features, along with other functionality to help you expand your e-commerce site.
Similar to HubSpot, it can get quite pricey for both set-up and maintenance due to its reliable software and reputation as part of the Adobe brand.
If you expect your business to expand quickly and have a huge budget though, then this may be the option for you!
Interestingly, HubSpot isn’t your traditional e-commerce or CMS platform as it instead places more focus on marketing and boosting online traffic.
As such, you can host your e-commerce store on HubSpot and integrate your marketing there as it allows you to more efficiently manage your social media, online content, and even ads through their site.
However, the platform itself can be rather expensive compared to the other options and lacks some of the typical CMS features you may need.
Furthermore, if you would want to directly code changes into HubSpot, you would have to learn and use their proprietary programming language called HubL.
A more flexible option would be BigCommerce, which currently supports more than 60,000 online stores worldwide.
BigCommerce is basically what comes to mind when one mentions e-commerce CMS, as it comes with numerous CMS features that are intended for both beginners and experienced professionals.
It’s one of the platforms that also offers search engine optimization (SEO) integration and plugins, just like WordPress, and is surely a solution for you to consider.
This particular CMS comes with no monthly or annual fees, so it can be quite appealing, especially when you learn that it’s also an open-source platform.
OpenCart may not have as many templates as Wix or Squarespace, but it does enable you to integrate a variety of plugins, more than 20 payment methods, and about 10 shipping methods.
Last but definitely not the least, PrestaShop is another open-source solution that relies on MySQL and accordingly offers considerable backend or server-side code customization.
With PrestaShop, you can create your online store from the ground up even if you’re also new to programming, but your budget may suffer when you start using their extensions and they don’t have free support either.
PrestaShop is therefore ideal if you’re just a small or midsize store.
e-Commerce CMS solutions compared:
How to choose a CMS for your online business?
Naturally, you would want to find what CMS platform suits your business at its current stage to make the running of your entire store far more efficient. A few factors for you to consider when choosing your e-commerce CMS are accordingly discussed below.
1. Pricing and functionality
Evaluating the pricing of each CMS platform and their accompanying functionality should help you determine which would get you the best bang for your buck.
One platform could also offer more features than another platform, albeit at a higher price. Paying a premium could be worth it for the added functionality, but may not be viable if you’re at the early stages of your business.
WordPress, for example, is a fairly affordable option with a lot of plugins and marketing features, so it definitely delivers great value.
On the other hand, Shopify’s monthly plans are priced higher but the platform offers a much greater array of e-commerce features, including integrations with logistics partners that take a lot of work off your operation team’s plate.
2. User interface and marketing
The interface of a CMS for e-commerce should definitely be easy to use, so you in turn can make it easier for your customers to use your online store.
You may also have other team members assisting in your store management, so ensuring ease-of-use across the board can boost productivity.
Similarly, selecting a CMS solution that already has marketing features included as well may help centralize and boost your business even further.
3. Mobile compatible design
Another factor you can consider would be whether your CMS can create and manage content for mobile devices. 54.61% of all global online traffic comes from mobile users, and so your site must be ready to view and use even from a person’s phone browser.
Finding a CMS solution that helps you prepare an online store compatible with mobile devices is therefore a must as well.
Some last words
Overall, the benefits of a CMS clearly match the trends of online shoppers and sellers in the modern day. Why do everything manually or learn along the way when you can have your own dedicated e-commerce CMS do it all for you?
To cut your losses, maximize your time, and grow your business in the long run, adopting a CMS even at the early stages of your enterprise should be a serious consideration. However, as each solution has their own unique offerings, choosing which would best suit your business’ nature and needs is what can ultimately propel your e-commerce store forward to success.
Looking for more resources on running or growing your e-commerce business? Choco Up can help!
Being a global technology and financial services platform, we not only offer revenue-based financing — a type of flexible, zero-equity funding — for digital merchants and startups. We also provide a wide array of how-to articles and business growth solutions for our clients.
Whether you’re just starting out or trying to grow an e-commerce business, Choco Up can always be your trusted funding and growth partner.
About Choco Up
Choco Up is a global technology and financial services platform, offering revenue-based financing and business growth solutions for digital merchants and startups.
With data analytics and machine learning at its core, Choco Up employs vast integrations to automate fund deployment, providing fast-growing companies with zero-equity funding in a quick and seamless manner.
We currently have offices in Singapore and Hong Kong and serve clients worldwide, providing smart-growth analytics and global payment solutions to fuel their growth.