Choosing the right platform to power your e-commerce site is the foundation to creating a successful online store. There is plenty of choice out there – it’s just about finding the right one to meet all your requirements.
Things to consider when choosing your e-commerce platform include the number of products you’re planning on selling and what level of technical ability your have. Some platforms only support limited product listings, while others allow you to list an unlimited number of products. Similarly, some platforms are easy to manage, while others have quite a steep learning curve. You’ll also need to consider your budget and the long-term costs of each platform as well as their hosting requirements.
Today, we’ll be outlining three of the most popular platforms; Woo Commerce for WordPress, Open Cart and Magento and giving you an overview of what they might be able to offer your business.
WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce plugin for the most popular CMS on the planet, WordPress. WooCommerce is also free. It’s an open source plugin, made for WordPress, which is another reason why it is so popular!
The plugin is designed to work seamlessly with WordPress, allowing site / blog owners to sell items quickly and easily. It comes complete with various payment and shipping options, which are all configurable and the option to set up taxes.
Another reason why WooCommerce is so popular is because of its ease of use. No coding experience is required to work with WordPress or WooCommerce, so anyone who invests a bit of time into reading around these two platforms could easily set up a WordPress blog, install the WooCommerce plugin and begin selling.
WooCommerce is an entry-level e-commerce application. It will allow a business to “dip their toes” in the online marketplace while giving them a suitable platform to build on. However, we wouldn’t recommend this platform to a business hinged on having a scalable platform. WooCommerce has its limits and a business with more complex requirements could quickly grow out of it.
OpenCart is another very popular e-commerce system. Like WooCommerce, it’s free to use and is a widely available open source product.
OpenCart has been around for several years and is now in its second incarnation following the success and development of Opencart 1.x.x
Unlike WooCommerce, OpenCart is a standalone system. This brings with it a number of benefits, one being that your website can be a fully functional e-commerce website, rather than just having one small part of it built for that purpose.
It has a number of excellent built in features that deserve to be highlighted. These include a range of payment gateway options, shipping options and product and category configurations. Theming for OpenCart is also quite powerful, giving businesses a lot of flexibility to achieve their needs.
Another added benefit of using OpenCart is that its framework allows it to be integrated with existing business systems, such as Sage, where administrators may synchronise customer data, order data and even stock management information.
Opencart is a mid to high-end system. It’s suitable for businesses with an established online presence that require more than just a basic shopping experience but aren’t dealing with thousands of orders. It is a suitable product for most SME’s looking to offer a great customer experience with simple back office administration.
Magento is an enterprise level system that is extremely robust and powerful.
Out of the box, Magento isn’t too dissimilar to a product like OpenCart, but the main selling point of Magento is the way it can be engineered / modified to work in almost any situation or requirement.
The sheer intensity at which Magento operates does mean that it requires specialist hosting in order to deliver maximum performance. When installed on budget hosting, Magento can be slow – so it’s worth pairing the platform with a hosting provider who offers great performance and large amounts of disk space.
Typically, any online business with a high volume of traffic, sales orders and a large inventory simply need Magento. Its highlights include highly configurable product listings, complex shipping calculations, integration with eBay and Amazon and a tried and tested order management process, both for the customer and system administrators.
Magento is a high-end requirement for e-commerce websites. Medium-sized businesses with a large amount of products and higher budgets are better off with Magento website development over the other systems we’ve covered. While it has a steep learning curve, it’s easier to grow your business on Magento than to migrate once your smaller, easy-to-use platform no longer meets your requirements.