Which eCommerce Platform is Right for You (Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce)?
Everyone from freelancers to multibillion-dollar conglomerates are now launching their own ecommerce brands, in part because an online shop can expand your audience from the local foot traffic that a brick and mortar might attract to a worldwide network of retained customers. As a response to the pandemic, a lot of businesses that sold through traditional in-store methods opened ecommerce accounts in 2020 to ship their inventory while all of us were stuck at home. The effect on the market was evident: Analysts expect sales from borderless ecommerce to crest $4.89 trillion this year—a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.
Today you can choose from more than 370 ecommerce platforms out there. For this blog, though, we’re going to focus on three of the biggest names in ecommerce: Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. Each platform sometimes positions itself as an all-in-one solution that caters to unfunded entrepreneurs and mega-brands alike, but the truth is they perform better for different business echelons. So which one is right for you? Read on to weigh your options.
Out of the three platforms, Shopify tries the hardest to be everything to everyone. Hence the five plans that it offers, which scale from simplest to most complex in this order: Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, Advanced Shopify, and Shopify Plus. Here’s a breakdown of each tier:
- Shopify Lite: $9/month. Best for a blogger or startup looking to sell products.
- Basic Shopify: $29/month. For new businesses wading into the market.
- Shopify: $79/month. For businesses with one retail store.
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month. For businesses with 2+ retail stores.
- Shopify Plus: $2,000/month. For big brands like Heinz who want unlimited online stores and a bevy of digital marketing options.
Users subscribing to any of the Shopify plans tend to find that they’re easy to set up—adding in your products, choosing a domain name, managing your operations from a central dashboard. Shopify is also SEO-friendly and compatible with mobile, and it comes with a 24/7 Help Center to assist you with tech questions. Another perk: You get your pick of 70+ customizable templates. Which is a generous amount, but as we’ll find out later on, you can’t customize Shopify to the same extent that you can tinker around with some of its competitors.
One of the downsides of Shopify is that it uses its own coding language, Liquid, which works in tandem with HTML and CSS. So if you’re not already comfortable with coding, you may want to hire a programmer to help you out. Oh, and depending on your plan, Shopify charges you roughly 2% per transaction, and they make you pay for add-ons and nonstandard features, as well.
Shopify is user-friendly, scalable, and requires relatively little technical knowledge. (Plus, it provides support if you do have questions.) If you’re a business netting under $50 million a year, this may be the right platform for you.
While Shopify offers its users five options, Magento gives you two: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. Open Source is the platform’s small business offering, while Commerce is its premier version—the cloud-based option with a subscription fee.
Magento lets companies set up a unique and customizable storefront with a range of features and a library of over 5,000 extensions. SEO-friendly? Check. Compatible on mobile? Check. Dashboard that gives you a top-level view of live stats? Check again! Magento also makes it easy to glide through the checkout-payment steps.
But on the topic of payment: They work in fees aplenty for add-ons and web hosting (to name just a few). If you want to upgrade your plan, expect to shell out sums in the four figures. And fair warning to all non-programmers: Magento offers a user forum where developers around the world can compare notes, but no real support for the layman with rudimentary tech questions. Unless you have some background in web dev, the endless customization options of the templates may prove overwhelming.
Magento is a powerful platform best suited for global brands whose tech teams can tweak its features—themes, layouts, plugins, demos, virtual shopping carts—to their products and sales strategies, not the other way around. If you own data warehouses or ship out of 56 locations, this may be the right platform for you.
About 30% of all online stores use WooCommerce, and for good reason: it’s flexible, SEO-friendly, and easy to integrate into your WordPress site—because WooCommerce only runs on WordPress. Keep that in mind: No WordPress, no WooCommerce.
Anyone with a working knowledge of WordPress can navigate WooCommerce with comparative ease, picking up a web host, registering your domain name, installing and activating the plugin, and so on. The Storefront is pretty easy to figure out, too, and it comes with mobile functionality and a dashboard with an overview of sales and orders.
WooCommerce is self-hosted, so a lot of the maintenance and managing falls back on you. Plus, you gotta pay fees for hosting, themes, a domain, and security features, all of which add up (but, it could be argued, are worth the cost). Like Magento, WooCommerce doesn’t offer much email or phone support. If you have a question, you need to file a ticket, which WooCommerce says it’ll answer within 24 hours.
WooCommerce has fewer tools than Shopify and it’s less customizable than Magento. But it’s generally cheaper than those other platforms, and a good option if you just want to launch a site to get some revenue coming in before you scale up. If you’re a small or medium-sized business that’s not selling that many customized products, this may be the right platform for you.
Jacob Tyler’s Approach to Ecommerce in 2021
So which of these ecommerce platforms is right for you? The answer to that is just the first decision you’ll need to make if you want to open your online store. You’ll also need a digital marketing strategy to advertise your brand. That’s where Jacob Tyler comes in. We love working with ecommerce clients—expanding their cyber presence and getting eye-opening results. Give us a call today so we can help you hang out an e-shingle and hit launch.