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What is the best platform for eCommerce Websites? Shopify, Magento, or WordPress?

23 Jul What is the best platform for eCommerce Websites? Shopify, Magento, or WordPress?

What is the best platform for eCommerce Websites?

As Thai companies move into the brave frontier of eCommerce, we look at some of the most popular eCommerce platforms and discuss their pros and cons and outline which CMS could be for you.

We’re going to look at the 3 big players in the eCommerce space: Magento, WordPress (WooCommerce) and Shopify – combined they make up about 52% of the entire eCommerce CMS pie.

At Aware we have worked on pretty much every platform you can imagine, from companies of all sizes and industries and needs. Transitioning away from your existing web platform/ deciding on a new CMS is a BIG undertaking, it can actually be pretty daunting. And we should know, we have made/created and developed a fair few.

The unsatisfying answer to the above question is: It depends. It depends on the scale of your operation your budget and your inhouse capabilities.

Magento

I’m putting my favorite first here. I have personally managed a handful of Magento sites, from multi-million-dollar operations to small eCommerce shops and this platform works a charm every single time.

Why do I like it so much? Well, it’s built for purpose, the purpose of eCommerce specially and everything it does is tailored to making your business work online. This is why it’s the most popular eCommerce platform with an estimated 31% market share.

It comes in 3 editions (including open source):

 

  • Magento Community Edition (free)
  • Magento Enterprise Edition (paid)
  • Magento Go (paid & hosted on Magento’s servers)

Inventory Management: You are able to add unlimited SKUs and variations, no matter the edition you use (something that other platforms limit). This inventory can be grouped as you see fit, you can even manage inventory of multiple warehouses and locations, so you always know what’s in stock. (some platforms only have one inventory depository).

Order Management: If you sell on across multiple channels: your web store, your bricks and mortar store, your marketplaces, even your mobile phone or tablet at an event – it can get confusing. Magento Distributed Order Management brings all your orders together. They also don’t charge a commission when you sell – all the profit is yours.

Fulfillment: The 360 view of inventory and the ability to capture orders into one central pot means you can start fulfilling orders from where it makes sense across the globe. Plus, you can offer instore pick-up, ship between stores, and ship to partners – while not getting your inventory confused. The customizable shipping options means you’re charging appropriate shipping costs, based on weight/size and destination.

Integration: It integrates with everything you need to make a business work. From ERP solutions to accounting applications and packing slip printing software, the full eCommerce value chain can be accounted for through Magento. Which is important – when you are working at scale.

Marketing: This is why I like Magento really. Wonderful SEO performance out the box, modern free templates too, as well as an eco-system of apps that can help your entire marketing team; responsive out the box websites seamlessly transfer onto mobile and tablet, upselling at checkout, email campaigns, live chat integration and more.

Analytics: Just as important as being able to do great things on the front-end in understanding the data on the backend. Magento has its own Business Intelligence plugin as well as PowerBI integration applications.

Summary: Magento is for the serious organized, business looking to work at scale. Its competencies revolve around the entire eCommerce value chain from inventory maintenance to printing packing slips, vs just the design elements. The larger your organization and product set is – the more I would lean towards Magento.

With all these great elements, it’s not all rainbows with pots of eCommerce gold. Magento is a modular BUT complex option – and without in-house competencies, or a resource you can rely on – it can often be hard to navigate. This is often with a trade-off with flexibility – the more flexible and modular a platform is – the more complex it is and often skilled resources are required.

Magento is also a heavy CMS platform, once again coming with its modular nature. Without the proper technical infrastructure in development and hosting it can quickly become laggy. Magento is a serious eCommerce platform, in the era of “Content is King” – it doesn’t possess the same look and feel as more blogger friendly CMS platforms like WordPress:

I have always had the luxury of PHP developers who can customize Magento to specifications – I realize this is a luxury some people don’t have.

Shopify

Shopify is one platform I am currently working on through www.siammandalay.com. This, like Magento, is tailored to eCommerce and has a full eco-system to support your eCommerce journey.

I like it. It’s a simple, intuitive CMS, great small businesses and hobbyist. It’s pretty much the direct opposite to Magento in terms of targeted user– Shopify take care of everything for you, in an all in one platform, which makes the platform restricted.

Shopify comes in three price points which offer increasing options, they also charge a commission per sale.


Shopify is great for people who just want to get started in eCommerce and have no technical skills. They don’t know how to host a site, write code or maintain a website. For a modest fee Shopify can take care of all of this for you. All development is conducted in their own language called liquid.

Inventory Management: Shopify allows for you to add unlimited SKUs no matter your plan – this can be uploaded by hand, or through spreadsheet upload. However, it only allows you to manage one inventory, plus there are no alerts when products go out of stock… you need to buy that plugin, which is a common theme – buying add-ons.

Order Management: Shopify order management is pretty good, there is a free POS app for offline purchasing – it generally has all the “must-haves” – but if you were looking to scale out of shipping and labeling by hand it will start costing you extra for integrations. You can also integrate with Amazon and eBay through plugins if you are looking to increase your reach.

Fulfillment: You are fulfilling from one inventory pool, so it’s a very simple deduction/addition system. If you wanted to fulfill from other locations, for example through FBA you will need… you guessed it… a paid add on.

Integration: It has a full ecosystem of apps and integration and it integrates with pretty much everything you would need, but you usually have to pay extra. The more your company grows the more you will have to pay out in supporting that growth.

Marketing: One of the beautiful things about Shopify (and one of the reasons it beat out BigCommerce) is because it offered up beautiful templates, at good prices. Even hobbyists could now access really, really high-level web designs for their stores. Also, from a technical perspective, it loads quickly and is fully responsive which is great for customers.

For SEO Shopify as a platform is restrictive, you are unable to fully change the URLs, and multi-language is not possible statically without paid plugins and even then, they are on SubDomains. Shopify allows customers to comment on your blog posts, but you cannot reply as the store….?

Analytics: The analytics dashboard has everything you would need out of the box. Although for more detailed customer evaluation you will require analytics which is easy to add through Google Tag Manager.

Marketing: One of the beautiful things about Shopify (and one of the reasons it beat out BigCommerce) is because it offered up beautiful templates, at good prices. Even hobbyists could now access really, really high-level web designs for their stores. Also, from a technical perspective, it loads quickly and is fully responsive which is great for customers.

For SEO Shopify as a platform is restrictive, you are unable to fully change the URLs, and multi-language is not possible statically without paid plugins and even then, they are on SubDomains. Shopify allows customers to comment on your blog posts, but you cannot reply as the store….?

Summary: Shopify is great for beginners, but It has some pretty substantial limitations, and would not be suitable for companies working at a large scale. With that being said it’s my preferred choice as a SaaS CMS and it is a good solution for SMEs that don’t have any inhouse technical competencies: easy installation, self-hosted, 24/7 support and no bandwidth fees.

The sites look great and perform well and have all the necessities required to make a good site. They are a convenient online store for the “pop-up shop” dropshipping style business. But, not for long term use.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce, in an independently hosted eCommerce shopping cart, the upside of this is you have unlimited development and customization potential, the down side is you need to be responsible for it all.

In order to use WooCommerce you need to currently have a WordPress account. WooCommerce is the shopping cart which will turn WordPress blog into an eCommerce platform, able to process credit-cards, add products and all the good stuff that makes an eCommerce business work.

Inventory Management: Out the box WooCommerce handles a lot like Shopify inside the inventory dashboard you can handle all the basic elements of a single warehouse, manual or automatic deductions. WooComerce comes into its own when you consider plug-in feature most of which are free, unlike Shopify – you can get as sophisticated as you want with multi-store operations, POS plug-ins and more. In terms of feature sets and plugs-ins it is more diverse that

Order Management: The possibilities regarding WooCommerce order management are as unlimited as the number of plugins you need to support and manage your operation. This is one of the real benefits of using a WordPress development – unlimited possibilities. Multiple warehouse, multiple, full automated integration with marketplaces. One issue with multiple plugins is inevitably it will hamper site performance; they can also contain nasty malware and virus strains – all plugins should be fully vetted before installation.

Fulfillment: Integrates with all major third part fulfillment centers. Most companies worth their salt will integrate with WooCommece / WordPress as it’s the most used CMS platform in the world.

Integration: The most used CMS platform also has the biggest ecosystem for applications and plugins. It will integrate with pretty much any eCommerce-based facility or function. There are thousands upon thousands of plug-in capabilities.

Marketing: With WordPress, anything is possible with a good development team. There are very few restrictions – and it is supported with great SEO facility, easy CRM integration and the capability to directly link pretty much any third party app directly to your website. Plus there are thousands upon thousands of templates to choose from. The easy way to set up your website.

Analytics: There is no built-in analytics, but WordPress is easily facilitated by every leading analytic software provider.

Summary: WordPress / WooCommerce has all the functionality you need to set up a full eCommerce website. But to do this properly you probably need some development assistance and the infrastructure to support your website – to maintain load times etc.,

It’s also important that your site is properly managed at maintained. WordPress platforms are constantly under attack and if they are not updated and secured, they could become a liability if it infects your shopping cart.