Once, having an online shop was cool. No longer. Now, it’s necessary.

In 2012, the e-commerce industry surpassed 1 trillion dollars. We no longer hope for an online shop, we simply expect companies to provide a user-friendly way to browse, order and pay for their products and services, all from behind a screen.

For companies who rely on online customers, joining this industry is imperative. But online stores can be difficult to create, install and maintain. At Immerge, we offer three solutions to creating an ecommerce site. Which is right for you?

WordPress: the simple, easy solution

You may have heard of WordPress: the content management system that is easy to install, setup, and personalize. But comfort and convenience comes with a cost, and WordPress, while inexpensive, is not for everyone.

WordPress is geared for those who are either unwilling or unable to code a site from (near) scratch. Once created and personalized, your site is easy to maintain, and can be updated with one click.

To personalize WordPress, developers install plugins. One of the most popular ecommerce plugins- and the only one Immerge uses- is WooCommerce. In fact, WooCommerce is so popular they claim to power 39% of all online stores.

WordPress is a great solution for sites that only need basic ecommerce functionality. Because the platform was originally developed for bloggers, it’s core is a page-post system. All ecommerce functionality on WordPress is achieved using plugins, such as WooCommerce.This particular plugin is owned and developed by the WordPress team, meaning WooCommerce will always be compatible with the WordPress framework.

But even WooCommerce has limits, and each new ecommerce feature generally requires a new plugin. Eventually, that much additional code will begin to weigh on your site, slowing down the speed and possibly complicating updates.

Security is also a risk when choosing WordPress. While not inherently less secure than any other content management system, because of the quantity of sites it serves, WordPress is a higher target for hackers. Immerge takes steps to minimize this risk, but you should consider this when deciding which package works for you.

If you choose WordPress, we can set up your site easily, and there’s little maintenance afterwards. This is a great solution for those with a simple e-commerce store and limited funds.

Express Engine: the custom solution

WordPress’ main selling point is ease and convenience, but that isn’t the solution for everyone. If your company has a complex pricing model, you may be better served by opting for our Expression Engine package.

Like WordPress, Expression Engine is a content management system with a fairly intuitive user interface. Unlike WordPress, it was developed with e-commerce in mind rather than blogs, meaning a higher capacity for personalization without sacrificing page speed.

When we make a custom e-commerce site, we use CartThrob, a software developed by Expression Engine. You will be able to utilize complex pricing models and service just about any need you can imagine. CartThrob is great at handling data and outputting readable, useable data.

One of our current clients, SOS Greek, sells custom apparel to students in Greek life. They wanted a system that was able to show a personalized design to the user, and then send that data to SOS after purchasing. To achieve this, we created scalable vector graphics that can be updated and changed on their site easily, allowing every user to create their own unique design. Such a task would be impossible to achieve on WordPress.

The downside of Expression Engine and CartThrob is development time and maintenance. Unlike WordPress, there is no automatic install and it takes more than one click to update.

Expression Engine is a solution for those who have a complex e-commerce system and are willing to put the money and time to get a customized site.

Nexternal: A big solution for a big process

What if your company has a more complicated business model? Have a warehouse that needs to communicate with accounting with distribution with shipping with customer service? If your company has a dozen moving parts that need data to move between them, Nexternal is the best solution.

Nexternal is an ecommerce platform with software that allows for easy connection and data transfer. When working with a client using Nexternal, Immerge puts in the time to understand the business process and need of the client. We make sure the software we create for you fits with every aspect of your business.

Of course, this means a lengthier development time and a higher cost, and maintenance is ongoing. Like Expression Engine, you can’t update or install in one click.

Nexternal is a great, scalable enterprise solution for a company with a business model too complicated to use WordPress or Expression Engine. They also have 24/7 support, a feature neither WordPress nor ExpressionEngine offers.

Whatever your ecommerce needs, we’re happy to help! Immerge has plenty of experience with companies of all sizes.