Choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business

Magento vs Woocommerce vs Shopify

Getting yourself a brand new shiny website? Great, you’re on your way to Internet stardom and e-commerce domination.

But what is the best CMS for your online store? What platform is going to provide the best experience and ultimately the least hassle for you and your business?

The three that we are going to review are probably the three biggest and most well know of the e-commerce CMS’s on the market. With a combined total of over 25 million downloads across the 3 platforms, it clear to see that it’s of critical import to many many users across the world.

There is, of course, a lot of debate as to which is going to be best and, of course, differing opinion across a multitude of different client types, business sizes and locations.

In essence, there is no hard and fast rule of ‘you should use X because of Y’ but it is interesting to note the differences between the three – the functionality, the level of expertise/training required and the scalability of the respective platform.

A super quick rundown

Magento – An open source platform owned by eBay.

Woocommerce – WooCommerce is a free toolkit for use on WordPress sites adding an online store functionality. The most widely used in Britain.

Shopify – A platform to build and operate online stores and sell goods.

More in depth review of Features

Pricing

Woocommerce is free to download and start using, hence its enormous popularity for SME’s. However, additional plugins and tools may be needed to be purchased if required.

Magento too is a free-to-use open-source CMS*. With more and more people using Magento and the community growing, support and free-to-use plugins are growing and getting better day after day.

*You may need to utilise the more advanced Enterprise Edition. However, this comes with a hefty price tag and is more for large, multi-national corporations.

Shopify is priced according to the level of service that you require and operates through add-ons and additional packages that you may need to purchase should the added functions be required.

Inventory/Product management

Whilst inventory management comes as standard on all three platforms, Magento and Woocommerce allow you to add as many products as you wish. Shopify, on the other hand, works via limiting the products based on the plan you have – i.e. the higher the level of plan that you have the more products you can have.

Shipping calculations

All three have this functionality, with no limitations.

Themes and templates

Free themes and templates are available for all platforms. Some of these free themes will have limitations on what you want to achieve. To combat this, all three platforms have additional templates with increased functionality. These so called ‘premium themes’ come at additional expense.

Language support

Woocommerce and Magento once again take the prizes here as they offer multi-lingual support. Woocommerce slightly edges it with more languages, but they at least have some support. Shopify, by contrast, does not offer any such support.

Discount codes

Magento and Woocommerce have this ‘off the shelf’ and are easy to setup and manage from the admin screen or dashboard. Again, Shopify works via additional subscriptions and plans that you have to purchase.

SEO capabilities

Not much to separate the three on this one, really. All have pretty standard and decent SEO considerations to help with your SEO strategy for your store and products. With shopping habits changing and online/digital stores becoming the norm, it’s important that your digital acquisition and, more specifically, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is taken care of. It can mean the difference between visibility, rankings and, ultimately, sales.

Speed and loading times

It goes without saying that speed (loading times) and performance should be high on every e-commerce site’s agenda. People are impatient. The quicker and more reliable you can serve you customers, the better their experience will be and the likelihood of retention or repeat custom increased.

Sites with slower loading times can result in customers switching off or going elsewhere.

In terms of testing, Magento and Woocommerce lagged behind Shopify in speed. For a basic shopping experience Shopify takes the crown. However, with it being less powerful and less options ‘out of the box’ it does explain why the other two have longer load times.

Conclusion

It can be hard to draw a conclusion as there are so many factors that you need to consider. Whilst Magento seems to be growing and the community adding more and more plug-ins, functionality and support, Woocommerce has a similar standing and many, many customers to vouch for its usefulness.

On the other hand Shopify is a basic package and takes a no-thrills approach that would suit the majority of smaller or independent online shops or businesses, as it ‘does what it does’ very well.

In our experience Magento seems to be the better option for most businesses and is incredibly versatile to suit your needs.

If you need further advice or expertise on what platform will suit your unique business, then feel free to get in touch today!

Written by Gareth Torrance

Hello there. I'm Gareth, the Digital Marketing Manager at Brave. With almost a decade of experience in PPC and SEO, I've seen everything from Pandas and Penguins to the horrible time that was Mobilegeddon. As an Adwords Certified Google Specialist, I have lived through almost every major shift in the industry! And that makes me feel old.

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