Introduction to E-commerce
E-commerce is a future-proof need of many businesses and therefore requires a strategy to gain momentum and boost in the online market. Smaller companies who are into the website themes business and selling digital products such as e-books may choose to remain entirely online without taking additional pains for opening brick-and-mortar stores.
The characteristics of an E-commerce platform
Being a key point of contact for your customers, the look, feel, and functionality of your online platform plays a vital role in the growth of your business and brand as a whole. Therefore, the online store must be capable of creating a positive impact with its ease of use and convenience factors and at the same time should provide a long lasting experience for the customers to have them prefer your e-commerce system over your competitors.
The Players in E-commerce field
There are numerous e-commerce solutions on the market today, such as Magento, OpenCart, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. Although all of them come with their plus and minus points, their selection must be made purely on the basis of the requirements of your company.
Few crucial points drive the decision to select any one of them; what you want to achieve, what are you looking for in an e-commerce platform and what is your budget.
Magento and WooCommerce are the two frontrunners in the e-commerce field that have outscored their competitors to hold the top spots. We are going to have a detailed review of the pros and cons of both of these platforms to help you choose the best and suitable one with ease.
We hope this review will help you take the right step towards a long lasting online career with an appropriate platform.
Evaluate your needs
Before we set out for our pros and cons sections, let us first work out on your actual needs and requirements for your business that an e-Commerce solution would need to fulfill. You can either go for a dedicated business platform (Magento) or let the popular plugin (WooCommerce) of a popular CMS (WordPress) do the work.
It may feel a daunting task to choose one of these best e-Commerce solutions and reject another one without being surrounded by uncertainties and skepticism. To do this with absolute confidence, you need to list out your business goals and objectives.
Consider the following
Complexity in purchasing process– Does your business model requires a customized checkout? If yes, then the one with its flexible and customizable platform should work great for you. However, if you need a simple checkout experience, the e-commerce platform should by default come with fewer customization needs to suit your business.
Stock factor– The number of products your company offers and an inbuilt scalability option to be able to add even more can be an important decisive factor. Generally, a business model with more than 500 products may be significantly complemented with a dedicated eCommerce platform.
Revenue factor– If your company earns 100% of its revenue from online business or works as the online system only, then a dedicated platform has slightly higher chances of suiting your needs compared to a CMS. A dedicated platform is capable of catering to your bigger and higher transactions and handling its complexity with ease.
Your skill level, budget, timeline, product customization, server capacity and staff (admins) are some of the other factors that you need to take into consideration.
Introduction to Magento and WooCommerce
Both Magento and WooCommerce lead the eCommerce solutions with their wide range of features. Choosing the best one should be done by considering their relevancy to your business model, load-time, and simplicity from a user’s point of view.
Magento and WooCommerce come with their advantages and disadvantages as none is absolutely efficient. Magento is a standalone eBay owned product, whereas WooCommerce is a plugin for the WordPress CMS. Both are backed by their vast communities and have long been a topic of blogger debates.
Magento has a 29.1% market share which is the highest among the eCommerce platforms. It is highly flexible, scalable and offers a rigid and ideal solution for medium and large online businesses. Being packed with a high customizability, it proportionally goes further into complexity as well, which entails hiring a professional Magento developer to help you with its orientation in lines with your business model.
Here is a detailed account of the areas Magento works seamlessly or face troubles in.
Open source platform
For the starters seeking to explore, it is the best choice available being an open-sourced programming. Its community edition comes loaded with all the essential features and is free of cost. To help the starters with troubleshooting, its vast community of supportive Magneto developers do a commendable task.
User-friendly Admin panel
The admin panel is easily understandable and offers excellent features and functionalities such as multi-store, multi-currency and multi-language. Moreover, Magento is mobile compatible and search engine friendly also.
Customizable & Scalable
Since it comes as an open source platform for starters, Magento with its scalability factor fully backs you up if you get to expand in future. You would, however, need to have dedicated servers for better usability and efficiency of your online business platform.
You can also customize your online store with its structural designs. If the need arises to tweak the features to modify any functionality, you are given full control over codes for the same.
Magneto enhances the user experience with images and by providing the reviews, wishlists, product filtering feature and more.
With a worldwide reach of e-commerce stores, it is supposed to handle a diverse audience. With a multi-lingual online store functionality and unique store views, you can take care of your global audience easily. Moreover, you can also create separate stores for your other products too.
With its lucrative add-ons, you can have the coupons, discounts and promotions feature to grow your business further. Its SEO support ensures your site grabs a higher ranking in search results.
Customer account management
Magneto confers its customers with the useful features such as- easy to track orders & shipments, watching order history, setting up billing and shipping, subscribing newsletters, creating wish lists, and much more.
Moreover, you can shoot customized emails to your customers when they are done shopping with you to stay in touch with them with your further offers and announcements.
Costly Professional services
Although community edition of Magento is free, it may require novices to hire a Magneto developer to get along with the platform. And it may cost a fairly large amount to hire a skilled developer.
Costly Enterprise version
The enterprise version which may be the need for a big online business or the one whose online store is the primary source of earning may cost a fortune with its starting price of $14420 per annum.
Increased hosting charges
Magneto being a comprehensive system efficiently works only on dedicated servers that again come at high prices. The shared server, on the contrary, shares your resources with other users leading to a reduced efficiency and speed of your online store.
High customization needs
Magneto suits the online store that requires high customization but at the same time developing a website with it is highly time-consuming. Nevertheless, the time it requires is still less than the one demanded by other platforms.
WooCommerce is a known name to most of the WordPress users. Being a WordPress plugin, it has backed over 400,000 e-commerce sites as it comes with all the functionalities essential to create an online store.
WooCommerce suits the best for the small and medium-sized businesses. With over 5.7 million downloads, WooCommerce has seen a significant growth in its popularity. It has a market share of 26.5% and is a newer e-commerce solution.
The functionality of WooCommerce can be accessed from the WordPress dashboard of your site.
WooCommerce supports the payment gateways such as PayPal, BACS in addition to the Cash on Delivery option. Moreover, you can easily configure your tax settings.
For a boost to your sales, you can even create marketing campaigns that give you the options to set discounts, usage limits, product restrictions and other variables.
Here is a detailed review of its Pros and cons
Free of Cost
WooCommerce plugin doesn’t cost you a dime and just requires the installation to get started with it. After its installation, you can add your products seamlessly from your WordPress dashboard.
Customizable and Professional
WooCommerce confers your online store with the ability to customize it as per your choice and requirements of your website. Moreover, with a professional look, it undoubtedly lets you explore the online business world with maximum efficacy.
Short learning curve
Since the plugin is a part of WordPress ecosystem, it helps its users to use it conveniently and learn its details effortlessly in a less time. On the customization part, finding the right add-ons and few clicks is all that you need to make your WordPress site an optimized online store.
With its review and rating features, WooCommerce allows your customers to provide their feedback for a particular product that in the long run promotes your online store products by social-proofing to further increase their sales.
Refined reporting panel
With WooCommerce, you can efficiently manage your sales and watch your general store performance, incoming sales, reviews, and organized reports filtered by date, category, product, coupons, etc.
The basic inventory tools of WooCommerce let you manage your inventory alerts, and stock levels without having to go for add-ons. For a more sophisticated working, you can simply add the free extensions.
Plugins for everything
Any functionality that requires an add-on can be fulfilled with a plugin from the repository. Browse the relevant categories or search it by a keyword and you are good to go with your right tool.
The WooCommerce plugin easily upgrades in the background to update your databases and code, unlike the Magento that is reported be costly and problematic.
WooCommerce itself is free and works on the free CMS; WordPress, but you need to pay host providers for the web space. Choose the right plan that fulfills your storage and bandwidth needs sufficiently.
Premium themes and plugins come with a price
Although standard and necessary plugins & themes are offered free of cost or come inexpensive, the premium ones can cost you even more.
Lot of things to take care of
The setup is quite simple but is a lengthier process that involves the installation of WordPress on your host, followed by downloading and installing the WooCommerce-supporting theme and finally installing the WooCommerce plugin.
Lacking the basic knowledge of WordPress may require you to hire a professional to create a WooCommerce online store for you that in turn can cost you a bit.
High frequency of updates
WooCommerce regularly upgrades and releases updates to fill the vulnerabilities and bolster the security and performance of the WooCommerce plugin. Due to this, you need to stay updated to keep hackers and performance lags at bay which seems like a regular thing to look out for and consequently may annoy some users.
Magento being a scalable e-commerce solution fits the need of a larger business that has a successful online store. The complexity goes beyond the understanding of a typical user and therefore requires a professional handling to get your online store up and working. This would add high costs too which makes it a feasible and practical option for the larger enterprises and agencies managing their client’s e-commerce sites.
WooCommerce is an absolutely outstanding and free choice for smaller businesses who are either successful or yet to see the shine of success. With its easy-to-use interface, it makes for an excellent option for the starters with basic knowledge seeking to mark a presence as an online store. It can also be a preferred choice for the individuals who already have a WordPress site and now want to start offering their products.
Magento is a dedicated e-commerce solution that you can opt for after you have started earning good with your WooCommerce powered WordPress site and wanted to expand your range of products. Till then, plugins and extensions considerably make the WooCommerce working productive and efficient without creating a need to look out for the other options.