What Website Ecommerce Platform Should I Use?

Shopify.  No need to read further unless you want to.

In the early days, there were no website ecommerce platforms to choose from.  You either rolled your own, or you were out of luck.  So we rolled our own. 

Our Bountiful Baby ecommerce site went live in early 2003.  I initially created it as a technology demonstration for my computer consulting career, without realizing what it would eventually grow into.  Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Volusion, osCommerce, Yahoo Stores, and all of the rest came *much* later.  I watched those other platforms for years, and we even did internally R&D projects with many of them.  We recreated our Bountiful Baby website with three other platforms, but never deployed what we created until Shopify, and even then we waited a few years until Shopify was more robust, and then we recreated our Bountiful Baby site anew with Shopify a second time.  And this time we deployed it. 

Our old website had a plain and simple face, but was very intelligent on the back end, and it took many years for any of those other platforms to catch up with what our own website could do on the backend.  I knew we needed to eventually replace our home-grown website with something else.  Until that happened, it would be our achilles heel, because our home-grown code depended on my technical expertise to keep it running.  We needed it replaced.  I also knew that the replacement needed to be hosted somewhere else.  We were not a hosting company, and we needed to get out of the business of hosting our own website.

I also knew that every race eventually becomes a two or three horse race, with the top two getting the most mindshare.  Look at the history of the automobile in the United States. In 1904, 195 different cars were assembled by 60 companies. Within the following 10 years, 531 companies were formed and 346 perished. By 1923, only 108 car makers remained. This number dropped to 44 by 1927. Today, Ford and General Motors dominate the domestic industry.

Ford and GM.  Coke and Pepsi. Eveready and Duracell. Kodak and Fuji.  Hertz and Avis. Listerine and Scope. Crest and Colgate.  Tylenol and Aspirin.  The list is endless.

Sometimes the third place horse stays in the race, but often it becomes a two horse race.  The fourth place horse and worse almost always go away.  I wanted to identify who the first place horse was going to be for an ecommerce platform, and it wasn’t immediately obvious who that was going to be.

For a long time, it looked like Magento would become the first place horse.  Indeed, Magento *was* in first place for a long time.  But I also knew it was still early, because they were still very primitive in comparison to what we had created ourselves.

But now Shopify is clearly the #1 ecommerce platform, with over one million merchants, and a vibrant 3rd party market.

There are three types of websites:

  1. Information Websites
  2. Ecommerce Websites
  3. Application Websites

It really doesn’t matter what you use for an “Information Website”.  It’s just a set of hyperlinked webpages delivering information.  The technology you choose for it is not particularly important.  And it is easily replaceable.

An example of an application website is Quickbooks Online.  Such an application website can be developed in a way where it can use a browser, but I personally think such a website is better created to run in a phone app rather than a browser.

But for ecommerce, just use Shopify.  End of story.


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