One of the most challenging and impactful decisions new retailers make is their choice of eCommerce platform. It’s challenging because of the huge variety of options, from custom applications to hosted eCommerce software like Magento and WooCommerce to Software-as-a-Service platforms. The choice is so impactful because it can constrain and dictate aspects of a business’s future, including costs, scalability, support, and the experiences of both the retailer and customers.
To help you make the right choice, we’re going to discuss some of the factors that you should be thinking about, before taking a closer look at a pair of eCommerce platforms that provide a foundation on which retailers of any size can build a successful eCommerce business.
Open Source vs. Proprietary
Whether an eCommerce platform is open source or a closed-source proprietary product might seem of little importance to an eCommerce retailer, but it can affect their freedom and the control they have over their store.
Open source software is created by a community of contributors. The project might be overseen by a single business, but the code is available for everyone to see, and, more importantly, fork to create a new project if members of the community aren’t happy with the direction the project is going in.
Proprietary software, in contrast, is entirely controlled by a single organization. They develop it, maintain it, and make decisions about its future.
While there are some excellent proprietary eCommerce solutions, for most retailers, open source is preferable. Open source software with a vibrant community will be around for a long time and is typically more responsive to the needs of its users.
SaaS vs. Hosted
Software-as-a-Service bundles together the software, the hosting, and associated services. With hosted solutions, the servers, bandwidth, and support are provided by a third party.
While a SaaS platform might seem the simplest option for a new eCommerce store, taking an eCommerce application like Magento and hosting it with a specialist eCommerce hosting provider has many advantages.
With a hosted eCommerce application, retailers are free to move to a different hosting provider, they have complete control over the functionality of their store, and their business isn’t tied to the success of a third-party — we’re all familiar with SaaS products that have “sun-setted” and left their users in hot water.
Magento Open Source (previously known as Magento Community Edition) is an enterprise-grade eCommerce application capable of supporting stores of all sizes.
Out-of-the-box, Magento includes a comprehensive range of eCommerce features including site management, marketing and promotions capabilities, feature-rich catalogs, excellent search functionality, and a mobile responsive interface — everything a retailer needs to build a competitive eCommerce store.
For additional functionality, Magento offers a large ecosystem of premium and free extensions. Retailers can choose from hundreds of themes or create a custom theme for a unique look.
Although Magento is often used for smaller eCommerce stores, its greatest strength is its ability to scale to any size.
Magento is a powerful application, and there’s definitely a learning curve, so if you’re completely new to the eCommerce world, consider WooCommerce as an alternative.
WooCommerce, which is based on WordPress, is the most popular eCommerce platform on the web by a number of sites, largely because tens of thousands of smaller businesses choose to leverage their existing knowledge of WordPress when embarking on an eCommerce venture.
The feature-rich eCommerce capabilities of WooCommerce are a testament to the flexibility of WordPress. While not quite as comprehensive as Magento, WooCommerce provides everything that eCommerce retailers will ever need, either built-in to the WooCommerce plugin or as an extension.
If you’re looking for a flexible eCommerce application and feel that you might not need the full power of Magento, WooCommerce is an excellent choice.
Before deciding on an eCommerce solution for your retail business, assess the needs of your business and the features of the available applications. Making an informed decision at the beginning will save you money and time later on.Posted in: eCommerce, Nexcess