Choosing the right e-Commerce platform for your business requires a lot of consideration. You need to decide whether to choose open source or proprietary software as your e-Commerce solution.
Recently though, many software companies are taking the open source route, providing powerful solutions that help further popularise the open-source alternative.
Here are some of the reasons why open source solutions are increasing in popularity:
The two leading e-commerce platforms available today are Magento and WooCommerce. They have attracted strong debates as to which one performs better.
This is a newcomer compared to Magento. WooCommerce is an open source plugin for WordPress and is famous for its capability to turn a WordPress website into a fully functional e-Commerce online store.
The tool has helped many users start and run an online business. WooCommerce fans love the tool for its intuitive backend. You only need to be familiar with WordPress and you will have no problems in using this plugin.
In just two years after its release in 2011, WooCommerce already had 171,000 active online users. It was primarily targeted to small scale and medium internet based merchants that were already accustomed to WordPress.
Magento is a standalone e-Commerce platform currently owned by eBay. It commands a prominent e-Commerce market base. This open source product had an estimated 11.91 percent of the entire online retail community by November 2013.
Perhaps the strong similarities that exist between these two products are the cause of the intense debate about them.
Both WooCommerce and Magento are open source. Their source codes are freely available for anyone to download, modify and use. Communities can develop the code into an e-Commerce solution. They can alternatively modify the original code to create a custom solution for specific purposes.
Being open source, both tools attract huge communities of users that are responsible for their popularity. Developers appreciate how easily they can share the solution with their clients. They can modify and share specific versions of the main software without restrictions.
If your business needs an e-Commerce solution, you can access the product for free. This is an added advantage for those with competent programming skills since you will not incur the costs of hiring an expert to build the solution. In addition, you can get unlimited help from the online community.
Although they are free, WooCommerce and Magento still have a way of making money out of their services. They operate under a freemium business model. Such a business makes money through sales of additional features and premium solutions. These extras are available to you once you have started using the platform.
As your business grows, you may need certain features that are not available in the free version. And you will likely have to purchase them. That is how these software providers make profits.
Certain customisation options in WooCommerce and Magento also require a platform upgrade before they can be made available to you.
You can customise your WooCommerce or Magento website in different ways because the two are self-hosted. There are certain website branding features that you can unlock using suitable plugins or with the help of a software developer.
For either of them, you have to pay for the plugin or hire a developer. One main issue with self-hosting is that you are responsible for all matters related to security.
A hosted solution solves this problem for you. Shopify is one example of this.
But while Shopify and other hosted solutions also allow you to build your online shop in just a few clicks, they offer very little in terms of customisability.
That is why people still prefer WooCommerce and Magento as they are both fully customisable.
The number of uploads your online shop will allow is a vital consideration. This is one of the most important considerations for choosing WooCommerce and Magento. They both allow for unlimited uploads of products which you can effectively manage.
These platforms have the option for additional features that make your e-Commerce website user-friendly. Blog is an example of such a feature, which also helps to boost your SEO.
You can view your site’s GA with both platforms. Google analytics is highly useful especially for a commercial site. It allows you to constantly monitor the progress of your website. Even better, you can view the performance details for each product to determine profitability.
A beautiful theme can help to make your products look more attractive. Fortunately, both WooCommerce and Magento offer attractive themes designed to draw the attention of customers. Both platforms offer thousands of free and premium themes that are kept updated by their respective communities.
Just like other e-Commerce platforms, WooCommerce and Magento come with a basic shopping cart. In addition to being able to upload unlimited products, both platforms also allow you to categorise them along with various pricing options.
You are allowed access to a wide array of extensions in both products. The Magento extensions may require the services of a developer to install. WooCommerce extensions are accessible through the WordPress plugins such as Askimet spam filter and WordPress SEO by Yoast.
The similarities above are many, but that does not make the two e-Commerce platforms equal in all aspects. They have equally significant differences that will help us determine the most suitable e-Commerce solution for your business.
One of the most important differences between the two platforms is that of customisability. If you wish to customise your online shop further to suit very particular needs, Magento has more to offer you in this respect.
Magento has far more features that allow for
You can also view more than one store from a single account with Magento. Meaning it is appropriate if you want to create localised versions of an online store.
WooCommerce is better than Magento for those who are new to e-Commerce since it is simpler to use. It can also work with other WordPress plugins since it is itself a WordPress plugin. You may find WooCommerce’s navigation slightly challenging, but not as sophisticated as that of Magento. WooCommerce allows you to filter only by a single attribute.
For WordPress users, WooCommerce would be the logical option. It is easy to set up making it an ideal choice for those who are just starting an online business.
In addition, various other WordPress plugins and tutorials are available to support you through the set up process.
Magento has set up tutorials as well. It has an easy to use interface, with a wizard for complete installation. However, Magento extensions are difficult to install.
Although these e-Commerce solutions are open source and available for free, future costs may be unavoidable such as when you want to install extensions.
For example, as your business grows, you will be needing extensions to help improve your user experience.
Now extensions for Magento can be difficult for a novice to install, in which case you may need the help of a professional web developer. In this respect, Magento is costlier than WooCommerce. In addition, Magento developers are harder to find than WordPress developers. This may make them more expensive to hire.
On the other hand, considering the limited range of basic options offered by WooCommerce, you may have to buy a lot of extensions and plugins all which add up and make it costly.
There is also the cost of hosting. While you can run WooCommerce on WordPress platform, Magento will be slightly more complex. You may require your own cloud plan or dedicated servers as the needs and requirements of your website grow more complex.
Without these, your site will be slow, resulting in poor user experience for your customers.
Your immediate and long-term business needs are the deciding factors in your choice between Magento and WooCommerce.
As you think of setting up an e-Commerce platform, let all the above considerations play out. Setting up, hosting, extensions, plugins, business growth and the costs that come with it, need to migrate to another platform; all these considerations will tell you precisely which e-Commerce platform is right for you.
Magento is more popular with bigger companies and businesses for these reasons:
For start-ups and smaller businesses, WooCommerce is the better platform:
Magento and WooCommerce provide similar features and functionalities, with Magento offering a bit more functionalities in certain areas. However, this doesn’t make WooCommerce any less effective.
Those who are keen on doing it themselves, will feel right at home with WooCommerce. But sites that can potentially get large or complex quickly will benefit more from Magento.
In the end, only a trained web technician can advise you regarding the right platform for you, based on:
To get some solid advice on the most suitable e-Commerce platform for your business, talk with a reputable web development company.