04 August 2015 - Jonathan Dempsey

eCommerce Platform Guide – 3 Open Source Options

When it comes to e-Commerce sites, there are so many options out there to help you facilitate sell your goods online to an international market. But with so many services out there, it is hard to know which one to choose and which one is suitable for your needs. In this post, I will try to outline the pros and cons of three of the most popular e-commerce services.

e-Commerce platforms

WooCommerce

Woocommerce is an e-commerce plugin or an extension built by WordPress, which happen to power 1 out of every 6 websites on the net. It’s a popular choice due to the familiarity of a lot of people with WordPress. It works as a plugin to WordPress which then extends the functionality of the site and allows you to start selling your product.

While the ease of getting set up is a reason for its popularity, one of the disadvantages of using Woocommerce is how it is difficult to scale your store and integrate with enterprise back office systems in order for it to perform better for an increase in number of visitors and product purchases.

Pros

  • Lightweight plugin that can be added to a WordPress powered site, thus giving the freedom of having a custom designed WordPress site and a matching store front.
  • Multiple options for payment are available such as Paypal, Realex and Stripe.
  • Variety of different shipping options including free shipping or flat rate shipping.
  • Intuitive product management features allowing you to to manage your store easily
  • Unlimited product attributes allowing you add extra features for each product.
  • Flexibility when it comes to SEO options as Yoast SEO WordPress plugin will work with it.

Cons

  • The main disadvantage of using Woocommerce as a selling platform is its inability to handle large enterprise based sales.

For most businesses trying to sell their products online, Woocommerce is more than enough with its integration into WordPress , its intuitive product and store management and the ability to add extra functionality with a big number of plugins that are out there.

e-Commerce platforms

Magneto

Unlike Woocommerce which is an add-on for WordPress, Magneto was created from the grounds up with e-commerce in mind. It is scalable, supports carts, multiple payment systems and is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms with around 200,000 live stores.

The platform requires high specs requirements from the hosting provider, thus it usually needs to be hosted on its own private server which also needs to be a high spec one. For this reason, the platform is usually used by larger businesses that can cover the costs of the high spec hosting and the high development cost.

Pros

  • Ability to easily handle much larger business than the other platforms compared (500,000 products on one site, and handle over 80,000 orders per hour ).
  • Ability to cross-sell or up-sell your products, compare them and use advanced filters to navigate your products straight out of the box.
  • Advanced search engine optimisation as it was built with SEO efficiency in mind, giving your products a better chance to rank higher in search engines.

Cons

  • Due to the high resources it requires, a Magento site needs a higher spec hosting environment and setup.
  • Servicing a Magento website site is also a more complicated.

Huge online brands and retailers use and recognise Magento as a key to their success. It offers lots of features out of the box and provides almost unlimited possibilities for growth and customisation. While it does require a very strong hosting environment, the comprehensive set of features provided by Magento will meet the needs of those that are serious about their e-commerce business.

Shopify

Shopify is the least customisable platform out of the three mentioned here. For one, it has a limit of 100 product variations unlike the previous two platforms which both provide unlimited products and categories. In similar vain, while for example Woocommerce allows you to add new attributes to product ( Size or weight for example), with Shopify you are limited to their three default product attributes.

Every product in the store is defined by its size, colour, and material. You can add lots of options for each of the three parameters but you can’t create new ones.

Saying that, Shopify is a good alternative for beginners to e-commerce and provides you with hundreds of ready made ( paid ) themes while also offering a simplified way to launch an online store since there is no need for a merchant agreement with your bank, and you can start selling the same day.

Pros

  • An easier and more simplified way to launch an online store when compared with the others

Cons

  • Monthly payment for any extra features or plugins, which are either free or can be purchased for a one-time fee on the other platforms.
  • Lack of freedom when it comes to customising the features of your shop. One of them would be not having the ability to add extra attributes to products.
  • Lack of content management features. While you can add videos or carousels on Woocommerce or Magento with the other products you want to sell, you are not able to do similar stuff on Shopify.