Comparison of 4 Popular eCommerce Platforms

by Navneet Patel

In this guest post, Navneet Patel of Vovance discusses four popular platforms for eCommerce businesses that are looking to expand beyond the Amazon marketplace.

In the retail industry, eCommerce is gaining popularity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, eCommerce sales for 1st quarter of 2018 were over $123 billion. This is 16% growth compared to the same time period in 2017. This huge number makes it evident that eCommerce platforms are winning the hearts of both sellers and buyers.

Sellers who start out selling on the Amazon marketplace or the eBay marketplace often ask me about how to develop an eCommerce shop of their own. With the availability of many options in the market, it is easy to develop an eCommerce portal. The difficult part is choosing the right development technology and tools to build your online store. To help you make a better choice based on our years of technical experience as a web development company for eCommerce businesses, in this article we will share a comparison of the four most popular online eCommerce portal development platforms.

1. Magento

Magento is one of the most admired platforms for eCommerce portal development. You can build any type of online shopping portal with any number of products. It is highly flexible and satisfies all different types of requirements for a retail business owner of any business size.

Pros:

  • It supports multiple currencies, tax policies, product types and categories, payment gateways, etc. Thus, you don’t need to compromise on anything, and you don’t need to pay hefty fees to develop custom modules for any additional functionality you want.
  • It has a wide range of paid plug-ins that can be integrated to add any common functionality in your eCommerce portal.
  • It is very SEO-friendly. It gets great marks for its SEO friendliness and offers widespread SEO functionalities, such as SEO-friendly URLs, product titles, meta tags, sitemap, canonicalization, image optimization, robots file access, etc.
  • Being one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, it offers a plethora of attractive themes for an online portal. You can choose the one that suits your need, taste and budget from thousands of available free and paid themes.

Cons:

  • It is a technically complex development platform, so if you are just dabbling in online portal development, this is not for you. However, you can hire an experienced Magento developer or outsource your project to an eCommerce development company to make this tough task easy.
  • Being open source, it has many known bugs. Of course, online forums and the open source community can help, but you will need to take the help of paid service to ensure that you have the best eCommerce site. The technical support of Enterprise Magento is fast and reliable.

Cost:

There are two different versions of Magento available in the market, and price depends on the version you use.

  1. Magento CE (Community Edition): Open source and free to use. All you need to pay is domain hosting and maintenance charges. It is an ideal choice for small businesses, startups and businesses with a tight budget.
  2. Magento EE (Enterprise Edition): Paid version with more robust development platform. The price varies according to requirements; it starts at $2000. It is good for large eCommerce businesses.

In both versions, the cost of plug-ins, development, customization, etc. will be additional.

2. Prestashop

Prestashop has more than 250,000 online stores all across the globe, making it a well-loved eCommerce development platform. It is furnished with almost all the built-in features that an eCommerce merchant would need in an online store.

Pros:

  • The USP (Unique Selling Point) of Prestashop is its statistics. It gives insightful stats of visitors and other details that can help in taking a lot of important decisions and shape your marketing activities in the right direction. If you love using numbers to make decisions, this is the platform you are looking for. You will not need to additionally invest in development hours to get these statistics.
  • It offers a dashboard that gives an overview of all important data.
  • It has a built-in library of functions with 500+ eCommerce features required to open an online store.
  • It is very user friendly and an online store can be set up within a few minutes without facing any complex steps. The administration of the online store is also very easy as it offers a user-friendly frontend to merchants.
  • You can choose a theme for your online store from 1500 available themes that are highly customizable and comprehensive.
  • It provides comprehensive training material so you can use all features and functionalities of Prestashop at its best.
  • You don't need to pay a license fee or revenue percentage sharing to start a store. Thus, this can be an ideal choice for SMBs and startups.

Cons:

  • It offers many SEO friendly functions such as title, meta details, sitemap, etc. However, it doesn’t support the most important SEO factor for an eCommerce site, canonicalization, which is a drawback. Also, it misses some important SEO function support.
  • Prestashop is free to use, but not really! To build a functional eCommerce portal, you will need to buy some or many paid modules as well as an attractive store theme.
  • The biggest drawback of this eCommerce portal development platform is its support cost. Unlike other eCommerce platforms, the developers of Prestashop provide proactive support, but it is too expensive. The smallest support package is $249 and it only includes 3 hours monthly of support.

Cost:

It is absolutely free to download and use. However, you need to bear expenses for several functions, hosting fee, plug-ins, themes, etc. to set up a functional online store on top of it.

3. OpenCart

OpenCart is another open source eCommerce platform that is very popular with more than 342,000 stores on it. It is easier to use than Magento, but difficult than WooCommerce. It empowers an eCommerce owner to build a robust and scalable online portal.

Pros:

  • It has more than 13,000 modules to let you develop a highly advanced online portal. It supports different currencies and languages, payment gateways and other simple to basic features to provide a building block to develop the best eCommerce portal.
  • It supports multi-store function which allows you to manage multiple stores from a single admin panel.
  • It offers the shopping cart menu to let merchants support unlimited products and categories.
  • It delivers impressive site speed as it is developed by using Ajax.
  • It is developed on top of PHP. Thus, you can customize and use it easily if you have knowledge of PHP, HTML and JavaScript. If you don’t have expertise in these technologies, don’t worry as you will easily find many developers that have expertise in PHP, HTML and JavaScript that you can use to setup, customize and run your store.
  • OpenCart has many responsive and attractive templates that are free or paid.
  • It offers both community and paid technical support. The offered paid technical support has two packages and both cost $99, which is cheaper compared to Prestashop.

Cons:

  • You will need knowledge of PHP, HTML and JavaScript to set up your online store. Of course, you can work with a third-party developer, but it will add to the cost.
  • It is not so SEO friendly. Yes, it supports basic SEO requirements like title, product description, meta tags, etc. However, it lacks many vital SEO features. Also, hard-coding these SEO functionalities will demand you to spend extra effort in the code.

Cost:

It is free to download, upgrade and use, but just like all other open source platforms, you will need to pay for your domain, hosting, paid plug-ins, extensions, etc.

4. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is often mentioned as a popular eCommerce building block. It is not a whole technology; actually, it is an eCommerce plug-in offered for free by the world’s m-st used and dominating content management system, namely, WordPress. It is easy to use and setup compared to Magento. It is an ideal choice to build an online store for the merchants that want to convert their WordPress website into an online store or use WordPress as the foundation of their eCommerce site.

Pros:

  • Its code is free to view, use and customize based on your need. Also, WordPress has been in existence for many years, so you will easily find technical help to carry out the customization operations at affordable rates.
  • It provides all basic eCommerce functions such as: multiple products, multiple categories, different payment gateways, tax application, coupon codes and discounts, etc. Some advanced eCommerce functions are missing, but you can easily get them with paid extensions or customization.
  • It is part of the most user friendly CMS, namely, WordPress. Thus, it is very user friendly to setup and run regular eCommerce functions via a graphical user interface based admin panel.
  • It is very SEO friendly and supports almost all SEO functions. The most amazing SEO function for eCommerce portal supported by WooCommerce is the 301 redirection for the removed product(s). Thus, it will always handle the 404 error gracefully and assure the best user experience without any extra development efforts.
  • The WooCommerce itself has around 350 themes, but you can select any free or paid WordPress theme and apply it to your WooCommerce based online store.

Cons:

  • It misses advanced functions that might be needed for large eCommerce businesses such as multi-store support and management.
  • You can use it only if you use WordPress as your store platform.
  • It doesn’t offer official technical support. Yes, there is a strong community and many WooCommerce experts that can help you resolve your technical concerns, but you will not able to find proactive support from the original developers of WooCommerce, if you are a fan of using support from original developers only.

Cost:

It is a free to download and upgrade. Like all other eCommerce development platforms, you need to pay additional charges for hosting, customization, etc.

Concluding Notes

Based on the points made in this article for easy comparison of different eCommerce platforms, you can easily judge that all of them have their own pros, cons, unique selling points and limitations. You have to choose a platform that can suit your technical knowledge, current need and future roadmap.

If you need assistance with web development, check out our company, Vovance Inc. We have expert eCommerce developers that have developed many online stores. We can help you with eCommerce development platform selection, online store setup and customization and ongoing support. Feel free to get in touch. We will be happy to answer all of your questions.

Originally published on August 16, 2018, updated July 1, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.

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