If you are interested in having an ecommerce website for your business, you have several options. Many people opt for a third party service such as BigCartel to host their websites during the early days, but the lack of control that these third party services offer is problematic for any company that wants to run a more fully featured website. If you want to be able to add content, run advertising, or customize your website extensively, then you would be better off using a self-hosted ecommerce solution.
Two of the biggest and most popular platforms for ecommerce are WordPress and Drupal. Both of these platforms are free and open source, and are ideal for all sizes of business. The flexibility and power of these platforms means that they are being used by everyone from small business owners to enterprise-level companies.
WordPress is best known as a blogging platform. In fact, out of the box its features are relatively limited. WordPress is not designed for use as an ecommerce platform out-of-the-box. Rather, it is a platform for blogging. However, WordPress is incredibly easy to theme and extend. You can turn it into a community or a membership site relatively easily.
The WordPress community is huge, and there are thousands of plugins for a huge range of purposes. The open source nature of the platform means that security bugs and issues are fixed promptly, and it is easy to get support. However, WordPress does have some flaws. It can be slow and bloated, and it comes with a lot of extras that you may not be interested in if you want to run a simple ecommerce site. Also, the SEO features available out of the box are less than ideal. If you want to use WordPress to run an ecommerce site, you will need to add an ecommerce plugin such as WooCommerce and will also need a compatible theme as well as some SEO plugins to round out your setup. This takes quite a lot of time to configure.
Drupal is another popular free and open source content management system. Unlike WordPress, which is designed purely for blogs, Drupal is much more flexible out of the box. You will still need an ecommerce plugin to turn Drupal into an online store, but the basic admin panel is far more powerful, and the modular configuration of Drupal means that you have a lot more control of the system without having to add extra plug ins.
Drupal is however quite a heavy program to run, so you will need a good powerful server if you want to get the best out of the software, or expect to get lot of traffic. However it scales better than WordPress and is generally more stable under heavy traffic. This means that you will not need to worry about how your server will cope if you get a lot of visitors.
Drupal is also search-engine friendly out of the box, and the entire content management framework is built with security in mind. Where WordPress is primarily thought of as a platform for individuals and bloggers, Drupal is perceived more as an intra/extranet platform, or something for much bigger websites. This means that the developers take a more security and stability conscious approach from the ground up.
There are many ecommerce options available for Drupal users, but the most popular is Ubercart. This powerful, user-friendly and flexible shopping cart can be used to run almost any kind of online store and can be extended and improved as needed.
Thanks to the popularity of open source software there is no shortage of options for people who want to build a self-hosted ecommerce site. If you already have experience with a given ecommerce platform then you may want to keep on using that one. Otherwise, you should talk to your web developer (or us at Rouge if you fancy a change) and see what they suggest. Consider not just how you want your store to look, but also what you want to do with regard to the rest of your site. If you want to post news, sell membership to your site, run a community, or accept support tickets, you should make sure that the platform supports those features or that they are easy enough for you to add.
Above all though remember that the Rouge team are here to help you make the right choices and would be pleased to discuss your requirements.