In 2019, 258 million online purchases were made in Belgium. The vast majority of this was done through a webshop that runs on an e-commerce platform. There is no simple answer to the question “Which e-commerce platform is the best?”.
To help you choose, we therefore look at which platforms are used the most in Belgium and what makes each platform so popular.
By far the most popular platforms at home and abroad are WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify. Of the top 1 million websites worldwide, 26% run on WooCommerce, 21% on Shopify and 8% on Magento. Although these platforms are the most used, this does not mean that they are also the best option for an online store. There are a lot of other possibilities.
The graph below shows the use of the different e-commerce systems in Belgium. The data comes from Builtwith, which provides insight into the technology of a website. We therefore have to take these figures with a grain of salt, since the use of a certain e-commerce platform does not always mean that a shop is also actively selling.
For example, WooCommerce can also be used exclusively as an online catalog plugin for WordPress websites and Ecwid is in many cases only the check-out plugin of a webshop. In addition, the number of installations says nothing about the popularity of a system among serious web shops. In order to get a good idea of which e-commerce platforms are used most often, the Sendcloud shipping platform has delved into its own customer data.
Based on customer data from more than 15,000 webshops that are connected to Sendcloud, we get a good picture of the popularity of webshop systems in Europe. If we look at Belgium and only focus on webshops that have sent more than fifty packages in the past month, we see that today these are the five most popular platforms:
In recent months there has been a large increase in the number of webshops as a result of the impact of the corona virus. For example, Sendcloud saw the number of orders increase by 90%. This particularly stimulated the use of low-threshold SaaS platforms. These parties offer customers a simple way to start selling online at a rapid pace.
A free webshop plugin for WordPress (the most used CMS system in the world). It is open-source, user-friendly and offers a lot of flexibility and third-party plugins. For setting up an extensive WooCommerce store, some knowledge of web development is recommended. However, a simple WordPress + WooCommerce store is easy to set up, with the biggest advantage that both are “free” (You do pay for: hosting, maintenance and some plugins). WooCommerce is often chosen because companies already have an existing WordPress website or are familiar with the CMS system.
Probably the fastest growing e-commerce platform in Belgium at the moment. Shopify is an all-in-one SaaS solution that brings together online sales and point-of-sale functions. Shopify is ideal for retailers who want to get to market quickly and who want to spend as little as possible on development. The chart below of Google trends clearly shows how the popularity of Shopify in Belgium has increased in recent years.
An e-commerce platform originally developed in Belgium called SEOshop and acquired by Lightspeed in 2015. This platform focuses on retailers who want to connect their offline store with an online sales channel. With a smart POS system, a user-friendly e-commerce environment and combined inventory management, Lightspeed is ideal for companies that want to do business both online and offline.
A popular choice for small businesses looking to easily build a website. Besides the user-friendly website editor, they also offer e-commerce functionalities for low monthly costs. The company is located in Eindhoven and the customer service and support is therefore completely in Dutch.
The most chosen option among serious e-commerce players. Magento is an open-source platform, with many third-party solutions and enormously scalable. The main disadvantage is that Magento is complex and requires professional web developers who are responsible for building and maintaining the webshop. In return, you get access to the most advanced e-commerce features and you have control over the entire customer experience.
An e-commerce plugin that allows you to add checkout functions to your website or, for example, Facebook and Instagram store. Ecwid has integrations with most popular CMS systems and is an option for small online retailers looking to add checkout functionality to their website or social store. In addition, Ecwid offers a free “instant site” option, with which you can start selling online very quickly. However, keep in mind that the free version only supports 10 products and that the instant site is only a one pager to present products on.
A free open-source and user-friendly CMS system aimed at the starting to medium-sized online retailer. With the help of templates and extensions you can easily build your own webshop and with the necessary PHP knowledge there are plenty of options to expand. The downside is that OpenCart is sometimes more complicated for new users than other platforms mentioned.
A Dutch all-in-one SaaS platform with which you can easily start a webshop with minimal knowledge. Thanks to the subscription of a SaaS platform, you can start a good webshop for a low monthly fee.
Open-source platform with many features and a user-friendly interface. With a large active worldwide community, Prestashop is also gaining popularity in Belgium. In particular, the flexibility in combination with the user-friendliness is a reason for many webshops to choose Prestashop.
With MijnWebwinkel you can easily set up your own webshop without technical knowledge. This Dutch all-in-one SaaS platform is super user-friendly and offers many options to completely customize the look of your webshop.
To make a good choice, you should first consider a few things:
If you have big ambitions and want the flexibility to completely customize your webshop, it can pay off to invest in an open-source webshop infrastructure from the start. Platforms such as Magento, WooCommerce, OpenCart and Prestashop are good options.
Are you looking for a simple way to sell online or do you want to set up a webshop with minimal development costs? Then look for a user-friendly SaaS solution such as: Shopify, Lightspeed, CCV shop or MijnWebwinkel.
Which e-commerce platform is the best choice for your company, therefore, depends entirely on your offer and ambitions. If you are just starting out and you are unsure about what is the right choice for your company, it often doesn’t hurt to start with a low-threshold solution and work on your brand awareness. However, if you want to take the next step with your webshop and make a financial decision for the longer term, it is wise to compare the most popular platforms again.