The Battle of the eCommerce Platforms

Go down to your high street and you’ll see that there are many different shops, big chains and small independent stores. Each shop is different – one who sells soaps will have a different layout and style to one who sells sports equipment, and they each differ in order to cater to their own products and customers.

This concept also extends to online stores – and not only in terms of the look and feel of a site, but also with regards to its level of customisation and the user experience it provides. It’s also crucial to find a solution that caters for their business, rather than just replicating what works for a brand like Amazon.

Things businesses need to consider when choosing the correct ecommerce platform for themselves include the types of payment they want to accept, and whether they need to give or gain access to third-party providers for any aspect of their business.

Now, unless you go down the custom route and have an ecommerce solution built from scratch to meet your very specific and unique needs, there are many different platforms out there that can cover a multitude (or even all) of your store’s needs.

Here at Land Digital, we build upon three of the big players in the world of ecommerce: Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. Again, which option is right for you depends on your particular needs. For a shop that has 1000+ products and multiple integrations with third-party software, we’d suggest going down the Magento route rather than choosing WooCommerce.

 

Magento

Speaking of Magento, they’re now onto version 2 of their platform, even though they’ve been around since 2008. Their platform boasts colossal customers like Coca Cola, Huawei and also smaller businesses (like Liverpool FC!).

The advantage for businesses is a free, open-source option, and also a paid hosted solution. The level of flexibility is what draws in many businesses, as this allows the level of customisation a unique business requires. For example, we have a client using Magento that enables them to be in direct communication with brand partners regarding dropshipping their orders. On top of that flexibility, there’s also the vast amount of support in the form of online resources from developers due to its open-source nature.

There are cons, in that there’s a steep learning curve in setup, it does require quite a bit of developer knowledge, and understanding the way pages and static blocks work can seem a bit daunting at first.

 

WordPress

Another open-source option is WooCommerce, which is built on top of WordPress. It’s free to download, so all you need to pay for in terms of setup are the hosting fees – no wonder it battles Magento for the market share top spot!

Setup is very straightforward and there are a varied range of available customisation options and integrations, through free and paid plugins – plus, it receives regular updates to address security issues.

Like Magento, there’s a huge community of developers who can provide help and resources to common issues. With it being on WordPress, it’s also ideal for marketing – thanks to its built-in blog.

In terms of negatives, the scalability isn’t quite as good as that of other platforms, in that, once the store or product range grows, the shop begins to slow down. Solid hosting and an awesome development team permitting, this may not be an issue – as according to WooCommerce, there are stores that do hold more than 100,000 products and handle thousands of transactions per minute.

 

Shopify

Launched almost 10 years ago but having gained massive popularity over a short period of time, this is a hosted platform – which means your fee to use Shopify includes the server hosting. There are different packages available with regards to hosting, and also an option for enterprise businesses.

With Shopify, you have a reliable host on some very fast servers, and the ability to easily sell your products on multiple channels, like Facebook and Instagram.

Shopify starts at just $29 a month, and has its own Stripe-powered payment gateway. Card payment rates vary depending on your chosen package, and decrease the higher up the range you go.

In terms of cons, as with Magento and WordPress, Shopify has its own extension store – but the majority of these extensions are paid, and some depend on your Shopify package, adding to the monthly hosting costs for your store.

As Shopify is hosted, the level of customisation in functionality is down to extensions and third-party access to Shopify’s own API. This can lead to a higher-than-expected overall cost when it comes to running on this platform.

So, the question is, which platform do you go for?

 

This is just a very general overview of the top three we use – and of course, it’s difficult to generalise when businesses of various sizes and across various niches differ so much in their needs. Generally speaking, we’d recommend Magento for large businesses, WooCommerce for smaller business and Shopify if you’re looking for a simple, no-nonsense store to get up and running as quickly as possible.

As I’ve said, it really does depend on which one fits your needs most – and, at the end of the day, the choice is entirely yours.

Michael is part of the ecommerce team, creating websites in WordPress, Magento and Shopify. In his free time, you can usually find him in his beloved Scotland - where he'll be on top of a mountain, going downhill very quickly on a bike, skis, or snowboard and then crashing quite majestically.