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Africa Basics: Choosing The Right eCommerce Platform


If you’re a brick and mortar business which has recently decided to dive into eCommerce, things can be quite overwhelming. With hundreds of eCommerce CMS platforms available, It can become quite tedious to figure out what works out the best for your business.

Following is a diagram depicting the usage of various eCommerce platforms available in the market.


[Courtesy: TheWhir.com]

Clearly, the first four eCommerce platforms account for 75.9% of the market. However, this should not be the initial focus while evaluating the eCommerce opportunity for your small/medium business. Before you start looking into the merits & de-merits of the various CMS platforms, ask yourself the following questions: –

Inventory Size/Stock-Size

The no. of products you’re carrying can have a significant impact on the choice of your eCommerce CMS. While some CMSs are tailored to work well for small web stores with a limited number of products, stores carrying a large no. of products require something scaleable.

Nature of Products/Services

What are you offering to the consumers? They are physical goods/services or digital offerings. The right platform should be able to match the needs of your offerings. In the case of physical goods/services, aspects like shipping costs, special taxes etc. can also come into the evaluation.

Payment Integration

What is the most suitable method of payment for your prospective customers?  Study the spending habits of your target segment. For instance, while InstantEFT & Credit/Debit Cards are more popular in South Africa, digital wallets are the defacto standard in sub-Saharan Africa.


An eCommerce platform can be: –


A hosted platform is usually pre-built and takes away the hassle of installing, upgrading or maintaining any software or web-servers. Hence, a hassle-free experience for the business owners. On the other hand, a self-hosted platform requires a subscription to a hosting space. Furthermore, it requires installation, development, customization, and maintenance at the server.

Therefore, if you need a Webstore with a lot of custom functionality, self-hosted platforms make more sense. Otherwise, a hosted platform like Shopify can set you running in a few hours.

Cost/Expenditure of The Platform Type

Hosted ==> Subscription-based packages monthly/quarterly/yearly + Customisation and Content Upload 

Self-hosted ==> Development & Setup Cost + Hosting Space Charges + Domain Name + Content Upload

Hence, select an option which is cost effective and in aligment with future growth and scalability.

Next Steps

After considering the aforementioned points, analyze and select a platform which suits your budget and requirement. Thereafter, work/experiment with your selection until you are sure to proceed ahead. Otherwise, move on to the next shortlisted platform.

Moving on, Let’s have a look at the top 3 eCommerce platform:-

WordPress + WooCommerce (Self-hosted)


  1. Good for online stores featuring less than 100 products
  2. Simple and easy to use. Additionally, excellent for SEO
  3. A vast library of plug-ins available
  4. Also, it combines best of both the worlds

Magento (Hosted/Self-hosted)


  1. Suitable for stores where Scalability is the priority
  2. Additionally, It has a mature marketplace for extensions and themes
  3. Handles complex eCommerce operations with ease
  4. Runs multiple store-fronts from single backend

Shopify (Hosted)


  1. Excellent for digital, fashion and furniture stores
  2. Suitable for small/medium eCommerce Startups
  3. In-built marketing tools ready to use
  4. In addition, robust customer support

To set up an eCommerce website for your small/medium business, Reach Us

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