Which e-commerce platform should I choose?

So, you want to start selling online. You’ve worked hard to get your product line together, you’ve set your pricing and your ready to go. So what now?

These days there are so many options to choose from when it comes to finding the right e-commerce platform. On one hand, that’s brilliant and gives you loads to choose from. On the other hand, how on earth are you meant to select the best one for your business? Below we’ll take you through some of the key players and give you the right information to make the right choice.

WordPress / WooCommerce

You’ve no doubt heard of WordPress. WordPress is used by around 30% of all of the websites on the internet. WordPress is first and foremost a blogging platform but has since grown to have full content management capabilities.

As well as this, WordPress has a widely used plugin named WooCommerce which enables it to be a fully featured e-commerce system. It will allow you to:

  • List your products with prices, pictures and all the information you could need.
  • Categorise your products to allow customers to see the right products easily
  • Accept payments using a number of payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal etc.)
  • Keeps track of orders and customer details
  • Allows you to manage your inventory easily

As well as this, WordPress has a wide range of additional plugins which you can install to provide additional required features. Such as abandoned cart notifications, subscriptions, shipping integrations etc. It can also be fully tailored to suit your brand.

Pros

  • WordPress is completely free and open-source
  • It’s fully customisable and allows you to style it exactly as you’d like it to across all devices
  • Large community and plugin availability

Cons

  • It’s not an e-commerce system by default so requires plugins as standard
  • The need for plugins can mean managing regular updates and additional costs. Also, adding non-standard plugins to WordPress could potentially make it less secure

Who is WordPress / WooCommerce best for?

We would recommend WooCommerce to any small business owner who already operates a WordPress website and wants to get into selling online.

Magento

While WordPress has been retro-fitted to be an e-commerce solution, Magento is the opposite. It’s primary function is to be an e-commerce system and because of this, it’s much better suited to handling the requirements of your e-commerce business. As used by some of the biggest e-commerce websites around such as:

  • Nespresso
  • Nike
  • Samsung
  • Northface

It’s clientele will give you an insight into the sort of size businesses that will require a system like Magento. These tends to be businesses with warehouse integration, CRMs and large-scale shipping integration.

It’s not for the faint-hearted though and can be a bit of beast to content with being that it’s designed to support much more established and large-scale businesses with greater requirements than a system like WordPress / WooCommerce can offer.

One of Magento’s biggest flaws is it’s ability to allow you to create bespoke content managed content. Being an e-commerce first system, it simply can’t and isn’t attempting to compete with WordPress in this regard.

Pros

  • It’s flexible. Magento is an open-source platform
  • It has many features that other e-commerce platforms lack
  • It’s scalable. It can grow with your business

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than WordPress or Shopify. While the community version is free, the enterprise option could end up costing you over £12,000. Also, due to it’s complexity, the cost of development can far exceed WordPress or Shopify.
  • It requires expensive hosting. Ideally, Magento should be run on a dedicated server and this could end up being expensive

Who is Magento best for?

If you’re a large business that has need for large-scale operations and integrations, we would strongly suggest Magento.

Which e-commerce platform should I choose?

Shopify

Shopify, much like Magento is an e-commerce first platform. It has immense capabilities, a wide array of plugins and also has a very capable content management system to allow you to create bespoke content.

In our opinion, it has the most intuitive administration interface and is a great middle ground between WordPress and Magento.

In recent years, Shopify has grown significantly and now occupies around 18% of the e-commerce market share (as of Sept 2018) compared to Magento’s 13% and WordPress / WooCommerce’s 21%.

Shopify has all of the capabilities of WordPress / WooCommerce as well as an impressive content management system but with the advantage of being a native e-commerce platform.

Shopify also provide a service named ‘Shopify Plus’. Shopify Plus is an enterprise version of Shopify which provides personalised, dedicated help and support, it can handle over 10,000 transactions per minute, reduced transaction fees as well as all of the other standard Shopify features. There is a fairly large cost for this solution but if you’re looking to sell thousands of products every single day, it makes perfect sense.

Pros

  • Ease of use. You’ll struggle to find a more intuitive and easy to use system
  • Design. Shopify allows you to style it exactly as you’d like it to across all devices
  • Plugins. It has a huge number of plugins that you can install to adjust it so suit your requirements
  • It’s a hosted solution. Unlike Magento and WordPress, Shopify is a hosted solution so you don’t need to worry about finding and paying for the right host. Shopify will manage all of this for you
  • Shopify has excellent support. Shopify has a dedicated support team who can assist you should you run into any issues using their system

Cons

  • Being a hosted solution means that once you stop paying your monthly fee, your e-commerce website will not be available anymore.
  • You can’t host Shopify yourself. If you decide to no longer stick with Shopify, you’ll have to start again from scratch.
  • Shopify has a monthly fee. There is a monthly fee to use Shopify. This does, however, include all of the payment gateways, hosting and support that Shopify provides.

Who is Shopify best for?

If you’re looking for an industry leading e-commerce solution with the ability to create a bespoke e-commerce website to fit with your brand. Then we would suggest Shopify would fit you perfectly.

In summary…

While these are only 3 of the many e-commerce solutions available, they are by far the market leaders and should be genuine considerations when you come to make your decision.

We at Old Salt pride ourselves on trying to find the right solution for you, so it would be a mistake for us to just say: ‘Go with Shopify’ or ‘Magento every time’. Please get in touch if you’d like more information or to discuss how we could help get you selling online.

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