E-commerce is now synonymous with shopping. Most businesses have realized an online store is an indispensable part of their strategy to woo customers. Many smaller ventures and brands selling digital products such as e-books sell exclusively online, doing away with their brick-and-mortar footprints completely.
The look and functionality of the online store is very important to attract customers, regardless of the business or the product list. The online store is often the first point of contact with the customer, and in today’s age of heightened competition, a good first impression is all-important.
Magento, OpenCart and WooCommerce are the three leading open-source e-commerce solutions that can offer that good first impression.
Magento offers a powerful, in-depth platform for online vendors to run their online stores. It is now one of the most popular e-commerce platforms, and arguably the most flexible solution on offer.
Pros of Magento:
The biggest plus of Magento is its rich feature-set, combined with seamless scalability and easy customization to suit the vendor’s requirements.
Magento offers a virtually infinite set of extensions, for just about all conceivable functionality. The Magento Marketplace offers a range of highly user-friendly, customizable and responsive themes. In all, the marketplace offers 13 themes and hundreds of paid templates starting at $29.00. The widespread popularity of Magento means other theme marketplaces such as ThemeForest and Template Monster also offer several additional free and paid template options.
Magento scores high on customization. The platform may be customized to suit the specific requirements of the online store, and scaled up or down, as per the requirements. Supported with the right infrastructure, the platform delivers excellent speed and performance as well. The neat UX, with a professional look and well-organized categories, is the icing on the cake.
Magento is a tried and tested solution, offering very good SEO capabilities. E-commerce merchants can launch their SEO strategies effortlessly through the platform, with ready-made options to optimize titles, URLs and even connect a store to a WordPress blog.
The support available for Magento in the community is remarkable for an open source programme. Even the free community edition comes with good support from an expert team of developers.
Cons of Magento:
The comprehensive feature list renders a bit of complexity to the Magento suite. The release of Magento 2.0 has made the platform much more comprehensible than before, but mastery still requires a steep learning curve.
The Magento Community edition (CE) is available free of charge for download and use. However, unlocking the full set of features requires an upgrade to the Enterprise edition. The exact price depends on the size of the business or number of users, but only big businesses may find the fees viable. The wide range of functionality makes Magento a resource-demanding platform, forcing users to spend more on hosting.
OpenCart, another popular e-commerce platform, leverages the power of simplicity to offer a neat, fast, and powerful suite for e-commerce vendors.
Pros of OpenCart:
OpenCart offers a handy set of features, with powerful catalogue functionality and a good seamless mechanism for order processing.
Like Magento, OpenCart offers an enormous range of extensions, about 14,000 in all. The shopping cart, powered by AJAX technology, offers lightning fast speed. What’s more, the multi-store function allows users to manage and monitor multiple stores from a single Admin panel.
The neat and very straightforward interface combined with the easy learning curve offers another significant advantage over Magento.
The responsive interface makes OpenCart an easy tool for non-tech savvy users and store owners who do not have much technical knowledge.
OpenCart offers excellent documentation, with screenshots thrown in, making set-up and use very easy.
Another plus point is the cost. The cost of setting up a store with OpenCart is quite approachable even for small businesses.
Cons of OpenCart:
OpenCart, while being simple and powerful, is, however, no match for Magento in the feature list. Even some basic functions such as SEO require additional plugins to deliver high performance. Another notable drawback is the lack of provisioning for caching. Users need to install an extension to implement caching and improve performance.
The ease of simplicity of OpenCart comes at the cost of customization. It is not very easy to customize a store set up with OpenCart. Users who require anything more than a simple, generic and basic store may often find their hands tied.
WooCommerce is one of the easiest and popular e-commerce store platform. It offers a detailed solution for those seeking to develop their own web store from scratch or sell products using WordPress blog or website. It is relatively new compared to Magento and OpenCart.
Pros of WooCommerce:
The strength of WooCommerce lies in its simplicity. Among WooCommerce, Magento and OpernCart, WooComemce is the easiest to use and demands a very low learning curve.
WooCommerce is a part of the WordPress ecosystem, available as a Plug-In to WordPress. Users already familiar with WordPress may start using WooCommerce on the fly.
WooCommerce offers all the basic eCommerce features such as product types, payment gateways, delivery settings, tax control, discount coupons and more.
There are about 350 official extensions and templates on offer. The seamless integration with WordPress throws open thousands of additional templates all over the web.
WooCommerce scores very high in SEO, and offers a wide range of customizations. It scores over others, including Magento, by offering access to the source code of the store.
WooCommerce leverages the content integration with WordPress to offer extremely powerful SEO-specific options. Research by ecommerce-platforms.com ranks WooCommerce’s SEO score at 97 out of 100 when Magento gets only 95 out of 100.
Another plus is the structured support mechanism, with users allowed to “submit a support ticket” at WooCommerce.com and get support there.
Cons of WooCommerce:
The biggest strength of WooCommerce is also its biggest bane. WooCommerce cannot be used without WordPress, creating an unnecessary bloat for merchants who have no use of the latter.
WooCommerce offers free extensions for the basic shop functions, but most other functionality, including SEO, payment gateways, and more, come as priced extensions, starting at $29 per extension.
Magento scores over OpenCart and WooCommerce in offering a larger number of extensions and better support. WooCommerce scores over OpenCart, and OpenCart scores over Magento in simplicity and ease-of-use. Magento is designed keeping large businesses in mind, whereas OpenSuite and WooCommerce are ideally suited for small and medium enterprises.
The cons for each platform are however relative to the business. While there is value in benchmarking, e-commerce merchants looking to set up or replace their platform should not only run through the pros, cons and comparisons of each platform, but also vet such facts with the nature and demands of their own business.
Looking for expert opinion? Get in touch with our experts on these platforms.