1995: Thursday 27 April 1995, the purchase of a book by Paul Stanfield, Product Manager for CompuServe UK, from W H Smith's shop within CompuServe's UK Shopping Centre is the UK's first national online shopping service secure transaction. The shopping service at launch featured W H Smith, Tesco, Virgin Megastores/Our Price, Great Universal Stores (GUS), Interflora, Dixons Retail, Past Times, PC World (retailer) and Innovations.
With these developments in mind, I have assembled a list of top seven ecommerce platforms that can help you get started in 2018. Before we begin, let's acknowledge that amid this cutthroat competition, only the right combination of business model and ecommerce platform will survive because your traction in the ecommerce world depends a lot on the kind of technology you are equipped with. You have to choose a platform that can meet your own distinct feature requirements as appropriately and as uniquely as your individual business model. Whether you want to launch a conventional ecommerce store, or a multi-vendor marketplace, this list will save you some of the hard grunt work. Ultimately, however, only you can determine which platform is best for you.
Note. I don’t feel like I should make statements like, “I enjoy WooCommerce’s product management more than I do Shopify’s” here because it doesn’t actually bring much value into the discussion. I’m just a guy. A user. And my opinion is not any more important than the other person’s. Inevitably, the way WooCommerce does a given thing, for example, is going to be better for some of you than how Shopify does the same thing. And vice versa. So the key here is to check all those features out by yourself and compare which platform just feels better.
The first step to starting an eCommerce business is deciding what products you’re going to sell. Finding a profitable idea can be hard work, so be prepared to do some serious digging and thinking. It’s essential that you choose products with healthy margins that will allow you to turn a profit and scale the business in the future. Once you know what you want to sell, you’ll need to decide how and where you’re going to source the products. The four main methods of sourcing products and inventory are making, manufacturing, wholesale and dropshipping.
Ecwid is a hosted cloud commerce platform used by over 1 million merchants in 175 countries and offers the easiest way to add an online store to any website, social site or multiple sites simultaneously. With Ecwid, you get everything you need to start selling online in minutes. Easily embedded into any web presence and leading POS systems, you can market, merchandise and sell products and services from multiple online stores with mobile management and point-of-sale integration anywhere at any time.
Everyone at #WooCommerce and Automattic works from the location they choose – including Chefchaouen in Morocco, famous for its many striking blue buildings. Are you passionate about #opensource? We're hiring — apply today at http://automattic.com/work-with-us/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=WooCommerce … #worldwidewoopic.twitter.com/xIIfzE7nrt

Magento is similar to platforms like WooCommerce and OpenCart. Its Community Edition is completely free and open-source, but you will be responsible for setting it up and paying for the hosting and domain. Magento also comes with a steep learning curve, and Magento developers are noticeably more expensive to hire than rival platforms. For smaller businesses, setting up an ecommerce shop using Magento can be needlessly expensive. 


But, the devil is in the details. At the end of the day, Shopify seems like a more laser-focused solution. Everything that Shopify offers is geared at making your online store more functional and easy to use. With WooCommerce, the platform is extremely feature-rich and it doesn't lack any specific eCommerce features. However, it's still an add-on to WordPress, making it more complex to configure.
News flash: Private cloud economics can offer more cost efficiency than public cloud pricing structures. Private, or on-premises, cloud solutions can be more cost-effective than public cloud options, according to a report by 451 Research and Canonical. That conclusion counters the notion that public cloud platforms traditionally are more cost-efficient than private infrastructures. [More...]
Catalog management — displays products by category in a way that’s easier to navigate than scrolling or searching through lists of hundreds or thousands of products. Most basic e-commerce tools do not provide this type of functionality because it is not critical for small companies. Medium and large businesses that sell a high number of products and services can significantly benefit from using catalog management software by creating custom catalogs for various consumer segments, and sometimes even for individual B2B customers.

Load time is a pretty straightforward indicator of how fast your site is. Simply put, it’s the measure of how long it takes a page (or pages) on your site to fully load. A slow site is a killer in ecommerce – potential customers run away from slow sites, and as we mentioned earlier, each second you gain in site loading speed translates directly into sales gained.
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