A: The three main types of e-commerce platforms are SaaS (software-as-a-service) platforms, PaaS (platform-as-a-service) platforms and on-premises platforms. SaaS and PaaS platforms both deliver the e-commerce solutions through the Internet. SaaS platforms, like Shopify, involve software only. Once they add a hardware element as well, they become known as PaaS platforms.
On-premise e-commerce solutions are hosted locally by the retailer and managed by their IT staff rather than being set up by another provider and accessed through the cloud. SaaS and PaaS options are best for smaller companies or companies that are just getting started in e-commerce. They offer professional set-up and support, but they usually charge a monthly fee to use the site in addition to transaction fees on every purchase. On-premise platforms allow a company to have more control over their e-commerce site and create a customised shop front solution.
Some of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the market today are Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, Wix, Big Cartel, Squarespace, Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Volusion. Platforms like Shopify, Squarespace and WooCommerce — which is a free WordPress plugin — are better for small businesses who need something easy to get them up and running, while Magento and BigCommerce are more tailored toward larger enterprises with high order volumes. Website builders like Squarespace or Wix offer drag-and-drop templates that are easy for retailers without much coding experience, while other platforms have more complex back ends.