You have decided to build an online store, but now you are facing an important dilemma that most retailers face, which is deciding your perfect eCommerce platform. This task would be even more confusing if you aren’t from a technical/eCommerce background.
Let’s analyze a few important aspects that we need to take into consideration before deciding the platform. To understand in more detail, let’s consider 3 different eCommerce platforms namely Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento.
Ecommerce platforms can be broadly classified as hosted and self hosted platforms.
A hosted platform is the one where your website will be managed by a different service provider. You can only gain the administrator control and customize your site.
Shopify and Bigcommerce are some of the popular solutions in this category.
A self-hosted platform is the one where you, the retailer can have complete control over the server, bandwidth and other aspects. Example: – Magento, WooCommerce
Let’s have a look at a few important statistics for these 3 ecommerce platforms.
|Active Stores||150 ,000||235,084||686,526|
|Pricing||$25/month – Basic|
$79/month – Professional
$179/month – Unlimited
|Free – Community Edition|
$15,550/year - Enterprise Edition
|Free – Plugin made by Wordpress|
The following are the key decision making points for selecting your preferred eCommerce platform
1. Deployment time
This factor helps you to answer the below
• How soon your store should be in live?
Scenario 1: Store to be up in few days (Shortest Deadline)
Reasons: Installation is easy which occurs in few seconds and good GUI to manage product catalogs and inventory.
Scenario 2: Store to be up in few weeks.
Reasons: Once you buy a software plan, they will provide you with store administrator credentials with a domain(hosted) so that you can manage your stores. Install required themes, payment and shipping methods can be enabled and go for live.
Scenario 3: Store can take some days or week to be in production.
Reasons: Magento has many features and functionalities where not everybody can understand it easily without proper technical guidance. Hence it takes some period of time to learn how to handle a Magento store efficiently and make use of its concepts wisely.
2. Available Technical Experts
This deals with the team size available to build and manage your store.
Scenario 1: Good team of technical developers and designers available who can tackle the business.
Reasons: Magento is quite popular for its out-of-box features and flexibility to extend any functionality. It is also a benefit if your store requires more customization and needs to acquire entire ownership of the custom modules.
• Your team can add new promotion rules and install various third party modules
• Extensive payment and shipping methods.
• Customize your own store theme.
Scenario 2: Intermediate level of knowledge in eCommerce
Reasons: WooCommerce is a simple eCommerce platform but with good ease of use which can be handled by any newcomer into the market.
Scenario 3: No team to manage
Reasons: Shopify is a hosted platform, once we pay for a particular package plan we will receive the store admin access where we can add products, manage orders and invoices
• Default payment method is by Paypal Express Checkout , tax rates and discounts are available.
• Google Analytics , sell gift card features are also present.
• Array of shipping modules along with free add-ons for including social share buttons, SEO plug-ins.
3. Business strategy
Some eCommerce businesses require multiple stores for different countries and even in multilingual platforms.
Scenario : Require multiple stores (say B2B, B2C) in a single website and multiple languages.
Reasons: By default Magento supports English , French and German languages and we can have different stores maintained in a single domain.
Note: Shopify store needs to install Brightpearl (for multiple stores) and Langify(for multiple languages) add-ons.
No options with WooCommerce to have multiple stores and languages.
4. Size of product lineup
Scenario 1: Huge quantity products with lots of product attributes(more than 1000).
- Magento can maintain in-numerable amount of products with efficient catalog management, more attributes and inventory management.
- Magento also supports simple, configurable, grouped, bundled, virtual and downloadable products types.
Scenario 2: Small and limited products(less than 1000)
Solution: WooCommerce or Shopify
• In a survey, WooCommerce has got votes to store products 251 – 1000 in number but requires some more memory.
• WooCommerce can have more product custom fields and attributes and can save Meta information of product.
• WooCommerce also support six different types of products as of Magento.
• Shopify also can store same amount of products as that of WooCommerce but does not have different product types.
5. Long term / Short term business
How frequently do your sales happen? Does it happen all throughout the year or in specific seasons?
Scenario 1: There are some products which would be popular during particular seasons and not make any profit for the rest of the year
• For such short time existing stores, we do not want to spend more cost on installation setup or package plans. A dedicated developer is not mandatory to manage such stores.
• Both WordPress and WooCommerce are free to download and setup takes about few minutes.
Scenario 2: Products that are purchased regularly throughout the year.
Solution: Magento / Shopify
Either Magento or Shopify can be used for long-term business, but the size of the product line and available technical expertise should be taken into account.
6. Kind of business
This factor relates to scale and turnover of the eCommerce business.
Scenario 1: Large Scale (Greater than $1.5 million)
Solution: Magento Enterprise Edition
Scenario 2: Medium-Scale (Less than $1 million)
Scenario 3: Small-Scale
7. Platform Integration
There’s a growing need to integrate the eCommerce store to the rest of the software systems handling the rest of the departments in an organization.
Scenario 1: The store needs to be integrated with other CMS or ERP like Oracle, SAP… etc
• Magento using the web services and SOAP mechanism can be integrated with a lot of ERP and CMS systems
• Also we have an array of Magento extensions in the marketplace which achieves such integrations.
• Shopify and WooCommerce require separate vendors to provide such service. No extensions are available.
8. Multichannel Marketplace
In spite of having dedicated eCommerce store fronts, retailers prefer to have multichannel store fronts in marketplaces like Ebay and Amazon to leverage upon their customers. The best platform offering this facility is Magento, which has M2E Pro- extension combining Amazon, Ebay and Rakuten stores to be integrated with their current store.
Shopify has an app called Stitch Labs that costs $29.00/month.
WooCommerce has a plug-in to sell your products in Amazon and ebay called WP-Lister but only basic functionalities are offered for free .
You can buy the Pro versions of WP-Lister for eBay and Amazon from the following links…
Selecting an eCommerce platform is a crucial decision that can make or break a venture. Based on these key aspects and the business goals, a retailer can get a clear picture on the choice of the platform.