Look tasty online: eCommerce platforms for food retailers
10 June 2013 by Daniel Lewis
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From fashion, films and furniture through to toys, electronics and cars, there have been very few retailing sectors that haven’t been revolutionised by e-commerce in the last 10 years. Food, however, has proved a slightly tougher nut to crack, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The problem is that food goes off. Because perishable food requires higher-quality, speedy packaging and shipping and needs to abide by relevant Health Department regulations, many e-commerce providers have shied away from offering it online. But now, providers such as Graze and three of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets have proven it can be done – thanks in no small part to innovative e-commerce platforms and slick distribution systems.
But what are food websites looking for in an e-commerce provider? And which platforms perform best in the lucrative food market? We investigate which is best for the food industry: MagentoGo, Big Commerce or Shopify:
Let’s face it, everyone wants a website that looks good. But in food shopping, aesthetics are more important than ever – subconsciously or not, we’re far more likely to buy our fare from a site that looks fresh and simple, with clean imagery than a dusty, boring-looking one. Food shopping offline is a sensory experience, so when you’re designing online it must be as visually appealing as possible to cater for the senses that the internet can’t (yet).
With thousands of different, easily-customisable themes that allow a site to look stylish and truly individual, Shopify is a very tasty looking option. What’s more, it lets you to change its aesthetics using either HTML, CSS and scripts; a provider such as Magento Go only lets you amend in CSS.
Every eCommerce site needs a healthy number of products so that the customer can be sure to find exactly what they’re looking for online. But if you’re looking to replicate the number of products that you’d find in a regular supermarket, you need a platform that can offer you a six-figure product range with ease.
MagentoGo again loses out here; its most expensive pricing plan (£79.99) has a limit of 10,000 SKUs, while Shopify, for £155, can offer you unlimited products. Best of the lot, however is Big Commerce, which has a platinum unlimited product package available for $149.
With so many products available and plenty of seasonal variation, it goes without saying that a food retailer will also require a large amount of promotions to help shift some of the stock, and to stay competitive with other sellers online.
MagentoGo is popular in this instance with many e-commerce webmasters as it offers a slightly wider range of marketing promotions than Shopify and Big Commerce, as well as being able to provide unique reporting features.
Ease of use
There’s no webmaster who wishes for a clunky, difficult back-end. An e-commerce platform that’s simple, speedy and easy to use is worth its weight in gold – particularly if it means that customers don’t get frustrated by annoying CMS errors. If you’re looking to make things easier in every aspect of your online business life, a clever UK web development team just (like the TheGenieLab gang), you can even link up your Shopify or Big Commerce platform with your order fulfilment company, accounts, you name it – helping you to get your delicious goodies shipped out pronto, whilst intelligently keeping track of every aspect of your online business. All platforms have this capability – provided you have a developer who knows what they’re doing. Shopify, however works splendidly with the award-winning Brightpearl and is well worth a look.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say that you get what you pay for, but the lower priced Magento Go again shows this to be true – a food retailer is much better off opting for Shopify or Big Commerce, which offer rapid unlimited bandwidth for their slightly higher monthly fees, while they’re both less clunky than Magento. What’s more, they’re both extremely easy to use and are dependable, with customer service staff and forum experts available from both platforms around to help if you’re ever a little confused.
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