The current e-commerce platform market is more competitive than ever, offering hundreds of different solutions for businesses of any size and flavor. At some early juncture, every e-commerce business struggles over the decision of choosing the right software. We are going to compare some of the most popular e-commerce platforms: Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce and a custom-coded platform. We’ve checked the pricing, features, and scalability of the different options so you can decide what works best for you.
According to Datanyze, WooCommerce is the most popular platform with 58.2% market share. The second most popular software is Magento at 19.5% market share. Next in the rank come Shopify and BigCommerce, which take 15% and 7.3% market share, respectively.
Image 1. A screenshot from Datanyze.com
The percentage above represents the number of websites using given technology divided by the total number of websites using any of the technologies selected in the left column (see this web page); websites limited to the Alexa top 1M.
WooCommerce is free. If your website is powered by WordPress, you can add this open source plugin without spending a dime. However, if you’d want to use it to its fullest potential, you’ll need to buy a few extensions. While some of these extensions are free, you should be ready to spend somewhere around $10 to $500 per year, depending on your needs.
Paying extra may bother you, but spent wisely, it should pay for itself. You should also note that since WooCommerce is not a hosted solution, you will need to pay for hosting as well. The hosting fee will depend on the size and type of your website.
The WooCommerce platform offers a healthy number of features, which include:
- Seamless WordPress integration
- WooCommerce store, that allows for selling real products, digital downloads, subscriptions, content and an option to customize your timezones
- Mobile-friendliness and the ability to convert an existing WooCommerce desktop store into a mobile app without the need for custom coding
- Complete control of business data (no third party software is used)
- 100% open source that allows you to benefit from an active community of contributors
- Comprehensive documentation (covering topics like setup, extending, snippets, theming, third-party plugins, etc.)
- An extensions marketplace, with over 300 free and paid extensions to choose from
- Secure and up-to-date code, as WooCommerce is audited by the industry leader in plugin security, Sucuri
- Customer support
WooCommerce scales nicely with the growth of your business, but keep in mind, a good caching system will also be important. This is because the majority of a server’s resources are being consumed when a user purchases goods by adding them to cart, and visits non-cached pages.
By upgrading your server hardware in proportion to the amount of purchases taking place, you ensure your website’s scalability on your own. Normally, rising hosting costs are commensurate with revenue increases.
WooCommerce is not the perfect solution for big businesses however, as it only works well with sellers that have 100,000 products or less. Moreover, you’ll need to find your own web server host and support your own developer team who’s focused on optimization.
Like WooCommerce, Magento is also free e-commerce solution. You don’t need to pay for downloading its Community Edition, which works well with small and mid-sized businesses. However, if you want to upgrade to the Enterprise Edition, you’ll need to fill out a request form for a personalized quote.
On the bright side, there aren’t any transaction charges besides fees from payment processors. However, you do need to find/pay for a web host and domain name. Plus, you’ll also need to decide whether you’d like to have a CDN or any other extensions that may cost you a buck or two.
Magento provides a wide range of useful features:
- Frontend features, e.g. coupon codes, sleek checkout, gift cards and a customer dashboard
- Built-in features (upsells and cross-sells, related products, wishlists, quantity discounts, a saved shopping cart and an order status module, zoomable images, re-orders and product reviews)
- Responsive web design
- Easy payment integrations with services like Authorize.net and PayPal
- Elaborate product pages with product tags, customers sorting, marketing features, unlimited product attributes
- Easily viewable and comprehensive statistics (covering details like sales, taxes, refunds, invoices, low stock reports, abandoned shopping carts, product review reports, best-viewed products and more)
- Magento Extension Store
- Customer support
Magento can handle sudden and/or seasonal spikes in demand for the holiday. It can scale up to many thousands of orders per day or huge catalogs. The company is constantly delivering scalability optimizations. Some of them are shown in the infographic below.
Image 2. A screenshot from the Magento blog page
Shopify has a conventional pricing structure. With three main packages, Shopify offers users a range of different features: Basic Shopify ($29), Shopify ($79) and Advanced Shopify ($299).
Image 3. A screenshot from Shopify.com
There are also three extra packages such as Shopify Lite ($9 per month), Retail Package ($49 per month) and Shopify Plus (price on demand) offering users interesting features, that will be covered in the next part of this article.
Image 4. A screenshot from Shopify.com
Shopify’s biggest advantage is a hosted e-commerce option. You do not need to bother with the hosting process, as it will be sorted as soon as you sign up.
Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify packages incorporate following features (see the table below):
Image 5. A screenshot from Shopify.com
Shopify Lite Features:
- Showcasing products on Facebook, where customers can buy your products from your Facebook page using the “Shop” section
- Buy buttons on WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, or anywhere else
- Accept credit cards
- Sales app, accepting payments with iOS or Android devices
- Create invoices (wholesale, phone, or custom orders creation, sending invoices to your customers and accepting payments)
- Create custom orders
Retail Package Add-on Features:
*Requires Shopify POS and an iPad
- Staff management (individual PINs to track your staff’s sales and register usage
- Hardware integration for barcode scanners, cash registers, and receipt printers
- Accept payments (accept tap, chip, and swipe payments or accepts cash, and gift cards).
Shopify Plus Features:
- Hosting with scalable SaaS platform your site won’t go down and your customers will have a fast, enjoyable experience
- Bandwidth that can handle thousands of orders per minute with ease
- Accepts payments from PayPal, Bitcoin, and over 70 other payment gateways
- Security (certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, annual on-site compliance assessments and continuous risk management)
- Customization with responsive designs for any screen and any brand, robust APIs, SDKs and App Store
- Seamless integrations (Shopify API connects you to your preferred ERP, CRM, accounting systems, and other software)
- Reports: advanced reporting and analytics capabilities, supported by Google’s Enhanced e-commerce Analytics engine
- 24/7 support with dedicated account management and support
Shopify offers excellent scaling options and its backend is simple to learn. It allows you to create whatever kind of store you like. Shopify offers a lot of freedom in terms of high-quality designs and interesting apps from the app store.
As you scale your business you’ll be changing your Shopify package, buying more features and paying a higher commission per sale. Take this into consideration at the planning stage.
Bigcommerce offers two main pricing packages aimed at fast growing and high-volume businesses. The cheapest package is the “Standard” and its price starts at $29.95 per month. For the Pro package, you’re looking at $199.95 per month. And they give you a 15 day free trial so you can choose the right plan. Neither plan has transaction fees, and both plans offer unlimited products, file storage and bandwidth, as well as an unlimited number of staff accounts.
Image 6. A screenshot from Bigcommerce.com
Bigcommerce provides some interesting frontend features like image zoom, a review option, social media integration, a built-in blog, gifting options and an area for coupon codes.
BigCommerce contains more built-in features for frontend and backend functionality than platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, where you need to pick the right plugins to meet needs. The complete list of BigCommerce features is provided below.
Image 8. A screenshot from BigCommerce.com
Being a hosted solution, BigCommerce may not offer you great flexibility once you intend to expand your online business. However, they do offer a diverse lineup of third-party plugins and modules. For instance, if you require unique shopping cart requirements, you can build custom solutions in a modular way.
And with the help of a development team, you can also craft your own plugins or apps using the powerful BigCommerce API.
Ultimately, you’ll find that no run-of-the-mill platform solution will meet every one of your business needs. Most SaaS developers try to respond to the market’s changing requirements with frequent updates. As a result, every change to the software affects all platform users, leaving them with a little control or ability to customize the software as needed.
Deciding on how much money should be spent on custom e-commerce development depends on your business’ size and ambitions. The more features you add, the higher end price you’ll pay, and vice versa.
- Custom frontend and backend
- Personalized customer benefits
- Personalized payments solutions
- Responsive, mobile-friendly web design
- Custom reporting
- Unlimited third-party integrations
- High quality support from the development team
By choosing the custom web development route, you have unlimited opportunities for scaling business. Crafting a custom solution for your e-commerce business can be the best option in the long-term because upgrades are easily developed to support traffic and sales increases.
Long story short, there’s no silver bullet when choosing the perfect e-commerce solution. Factors like company size and type, marketing needs, and budget, all influence the requirements to the e-commerce software. But if you’re still wondering what solution suits your company best, don’t hesitate to reach out for help!