Dec 17

A comparison of eCommerce platforms on performance and technical support

Maybe the most important factor for eCommerce success is site performance – is your site mobile responsive, how long do the pages take to load, do they crash when faced with a surge in traffic. All these determine the number of customers who will visit, browse and go on to buy from your site. According to Google’s mobile page speed study, the bounce rate increases with every second a page takes to load. Directly contributing to site performance is the support provided by your eCommerce platform. You need a team working 24/7 to monitor uptime, look for snags and fix errors. This is when the technical support extended by the platform becomes critical.

A comparison of Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, OpenCart, SFCC, and Magento

In this article, we will compare the various platforms on performance and technical support.

Shopify

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

Page speed measures the time taken to load content on a page while site speed measures how well the site is performing overall. Shopify has been investing continuously in technology and infrastructure to better the load time of sites on its platform. The Storefront Renderer (SFR) is one such infrastructure upgrade that helps accelerate site speed. SFR is a server-side application designed to offer the fastest online shopping experience possible. Studies show that with SFR the server-side performance has improved 2.5 to 5 times compared to legacy implementations, merely by changing how read requests are served.

Site Uptime

Shopify is a fully-hosted cloud-based eCommerce solution with a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDN is essentially a collection of web servers distributed around the world and content is delivered to customers from the server nearest to them. This ensures that the site speeds are good and the content loads reliably even during peak traffic.

Shopify has also been working continuously to handle high load scenarios by increasing the back-end capacity. An automatic scaling mechanism has been put in place that adds or removes computing capacity in response to the amount of load. When there is a surge in traffic and load increases the autoscaler will detect the increase and start provisioning more compute capacity to handle it.

All these efforts have been undertaken with the intent to avoid a site crash and target 100% uptime.

Coding and Bug Fixing

Minification is used to make the file size smaller and lighter so that it can be transferred faster. This helps improve the site loading time. Minification essentially compresses the text by removing extra characters like spaces and comments and combining common styles. This process also helps to remove poorly coded HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on the web page, which slows down the site’s performance. Shopify handles SCSS.liquid minification automatically and this is a great help to developers trying to identify bugs and improve the codes to achieve faster loading time.

Customer Support

Shopify has a support team to assist merchants with their queries. They are available 24/7 throughout the week and can be contacted via email, live chat, and phone. A well-equipped Help Centre has also been set up with user guides, tutorials and FAQs. They also have an active community forum where you can post queries and get them answered by fellow developers. However, if you are a Shopify Plus customer you will be assigned a Merchant Success Manager who will be available to help you. Shopify Plus merchants are also assigned launch managers who will provide technical assistance in migration and development when the store is being set up. You are also assigned an exclusive priority-routed phone number for any assistance required.

Shopify has partnered with Zendesk, an advanced customer support platform loaded with powerful tools that make it easy for merchants to get their queries answered and run their business from any location.

BigCommerce

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

We have seen that responsiveness and performance are key to an eCommerce store’s success. BigCommerce is a SaaS Platform engineered to keep up with the growing consumer demand and ever-changing technology. This is the first eCommerce platform to integrate Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) natively, allowing stores to improve their search engine rankings and loading speeds in a simplified way.

The scalability of the platform determines how well your site responds to traffic spikes. The open API in BigCommerce enables developers to scale the site and create customized user experiences. Being a SaaS solution, the upgrades done by the platform are automatically rolled out to all merchants, ensuring that your site is up to date and you can offer customers a fast and flawless online shopping experience.

Site Uptime

Cyber attacks, third-party integrations that ask to manage and modify data or simply bad code can result in loss of data and lead to a site crash. While BigCommerce will ensure that the software and infrastructure are up and running, stores need to have a sound back-up strategy in place to restore lost data.

BigCommerce offers a custom back-up solution using the platform’s API. It automatically makes a back-up of all the important files and sections of your site.

BigCommerce claims to have industry-leading uptime at 99.99%. It is also ISO/IEC 27001:2013 & PCI DSS 3.2, Level 1 certified. This means that the stores on BigCommerce are protected by multiple security layers like firewalls, file integrity scanners and intrusion detection.

Coding and Bug Fixing

The biggest advantage of BigCommerce is that 99% of the features and functionality are organized within the core platform. The intuitive interface requires very little coding skills and changes can be made quickly without the help of highly skilled developers. At the same time, the open API gives developers and designers total freedom to customize almost any element of the store by changing the HTML and CSS code to fit their requirements. In case you do not have in-house expertise you have access to BigCommerce partners who can help deal with bugs and other technical glitches that affect your performance. They will take care of identifying excess or uncompressed code, downsizing images, identifying and fixing redirects, etc.

Customer Support

Upon subscribing to the 15-day trial package BigCommerce provides you with a lot of resources that will guide you through most of the tasks and management needed to set up the platform and store smoothly. Once you subscribe to a plan there is 24/7 live agent support to cater to all queries and needs. You also have the help pages where most of the common issues faced by developers are detailed out. The platform also has a community forum and a large collection of text and video resources to help developers and merchants navigate the platform successfully.

WooCommerce

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

It is the images, videos, javascript, webfonts, etc. used in webpages that make them heavy and slow to load. While web pages have been getting heavier, the optimal page load time has been decreasing. WooCommerce is one platform that has been struggling to keep pace with customer expectations especially with regards to site speed and performance. Shopify and BigCommerce are hosted eCommerce platforms with large teams working continuously to monitor every aspect of the platform and ensure that the sites are performing to their best. In the case of WooCommerce, the responsibility to optimize your site’s performance lies with you. One of the main reasons that your website is slow to load could be the hosting solution you have opted for. Poor quality website themes available on WooCommerce also play a big role in slowing down the site.

Site Uptime

WooCommerce is a very popular open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress sites. The plugin doesn’t come with built-in security, so hosting and security need to be taken care of by the store owners. The site uptime in WooCommerce largely depends on your hosting solution provider. Hosting services provide solutions that include automated systems to frequently scan your site and keep it secure, scalability features to tackle traffic and reliable back-up solutions. You need to study the various options available in the market and go with the one that best suits your requirements. When it comes to security WooCommerce doesn’t have its own SSL and most of the merchants get this done through their hosting provider on signing up to a hosting plan. All of these play a critical role in ensuring that your site is up and running 24/7.

Coding and Bug Fixing

To improve your WooCommerce site performance you need to adopt a systematic approach to analyzing your website and identifying problem areas. The first step would be to do a speed audit and follow this with a detailed analysis of the various HTTP requests: how many HTTP requests are generated, what can be removed, which takes the longest to load, ways to speed them up, etc. Then you have to optimize images using a CDN based image optimization service and then move on to minifying CSS and JS assets. These are just a few of the issues that slow down your WooCommerce site. Most important is that you have to take care of everything which is difficult and involves a lot of effort.

Customer Support

Being an open-source platform, WooCommerce has a large user base and community who are active and available for support if you run into any problem. WooCommerce also has support services that help merchants with plug-in setup, theme support, integration of shipping, taxation and payments and finally fixing issues.

OpenCart

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

As Opencart is an open source platform, the quality of the hosting service plays a great role in the site performance. Studies show that the core Opencart software is lightweight and can run well in a shared hosting environment. To increase site speed Opencart has launched a ‘Speedup Opencart Store Page’ extension. This helps increase and improve page speed and scalability. There are also built-in features to minify and compress JS/CSS/HTML files, reduce HTTP requests, optimize Database Table for fast SQL Query, etc.

Site Uptime

Security and uptime are among the biggest concerns of eCommerce store owners. Being an open-source platform, Opencart is vulnerable to external threats like code injection. Opencart extensions have also been a major cause for worry when it comes to site uptime. Developed by third-party players, these extensions are not scrutinized well by the Opencart technical team. These have been the main reason for many glitches faced by Opencart store owners.

Coding and Bug Fixing

When setting up your shop Opencart looks attractive because there is very little coding required. However, errors can crop up any time in the PHP Code, MySQL, JavaScript/jQuery/Ajax and even templates and themes chosen. That’s why it is essential to have a knowledgeable in-house team who can attend to errors in coding and fix bugs. Alternatively, there are solution providers or agencies who take up the complete maintenance of the store. They ensure that all Opencart related problems are fixed and the site is ready for business.

Customer Support

Support available on OpenCart is quite limited. They do not offer 24/7 support for the free version but paying customers are assigned a dedicated support who will assist them with all technical queries. Opencartalso has a community support page that can be freely accessed by all customers.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

Salesforce Commerce Cloud comes with best-in-class network, scalable database and memory allocation, caching, security components,etc., guaranteeing high performance. The platform is designed to automatically scale and grow based on demand. It comes built-in with many features that help optimize the site performance. One feature that needs a mention is the Dynamic Imaging Service. This feature streamlines how images are served to a storefront. It takes a single image and dynamically transforms it into different sizes and serves them as required to various pages. This means that retailers don’t have to upload different sizes of the same image thereby reducing the file sizes drastically. Also, SFCC’s Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA) takes you one step further in your efforts to speed up your site. SFRA is more or less a best-practice reference for building a site. The UX framework incorporates pre-built integrations with Salesforce Commerce Cloud API, data objects, and 3rd party technologies via their partner LINK program. SFRA is based on an adaptive design approach and helps load content faster on mobile devices. Also, the pre-built integrations perform better and faster compared to custom-built integrations.

Site Uptime

Salesforce Commerce Cloud has a 99.9+% uptime record for years and this can be verified any time at the community page where real-time information on system performance and security is published with details of the hosted uptime and service disruptions for every month. Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a leader when it comes to security and compliance. They have a dedicated technical team providing 24/7 coverage. They perform frequent tests including periodic vulnerability scans and penetration tests to ensure the security of the platform.

Coding and Bug Fixing

As a SaaS platform, you have access to seamless upgrades when new features are rolled out by Salesforce. Automatically updated on the admin panel, these upgrades can be installed with minimum technical knowledge on your side. These upgrades are rolled out to ensure that your site performance is at its optimum. While the Salesforce platform is reliable and high performing, you will still need experienced programmers who can correct codes, identify bugs and adapt the site to meet the customer needs.

Customer Support

Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides comprehensive 24/7 support to all merchants. The support covers all issues from fixing codes to improving security. They also provide Customer Service Center – an order taking solution designed to deliver an efficient customer service experience. The Customer Service Center has service agents who are responsible for servicing both online and over-the-phone orders. This service helps merchants to deliver a truly unified shopping experience.

Magento

Performance

Page Speed and Site Speed

If your site is well designed, has 100% uptime and loads fast, this automatically improves your SEO rankings, abandonment rate, and overall user experience. Magento continuously releases new versions with updates containing bug fixes and performance improvements. Upgrading a Magento installation is not easy but they provide good in-depth tutorials to enable developers to do it on their own. Magento also notifies store owners when new updates are launched. Like in other eCommerce platforms, implementing a content delivery network (CDN) with Magento is one of the easiest ways to improve page and site speed. For Cache Management, Magento comes with a built-in caching module.

Another feature of Magento is the use of EAV model (entity attribute value) for customer and product data. This can be beneficial especially if you have a large product catalog with 1000+ products listed. With the EAV model, all the product data is merged into one table, enabling a flat catalog for categories and products which further improves performance by responding to MySQL queries faster.

Magento 2 also has built-in extensions like TinyPNG Extension, Compressor Extension, etc. to optimize image sizes. Optimizing product images decreases their download times and dramatically increases the speed of pages. Magento 2 also has a built-in feature to merge CSS and JavaScript files into one file, thereby reducing the total number of HTTP requests. This also helps in improving the speed and loading time of pages.

Site Uptime

Magento periodically releases updates that include new features, bug fixes, security improvements and other enhancements. Magento is either self-hosted or cloud-based – if you choose to use your own hosting your site performance will depend on the 3rd party hosting service that you use. It’s advisable to use a dedicated hosting service so that performance is not compromised. Dedicated servers fare better than shared ones when it comes to availability of resources, scalability, customer support and backup when faced with unexpected server issues.

With Magento Commerce you don’t have to worry about the security of your site. The architecture is designed to provide a highly secure environment and each customer is deployed into an isolated server environment, separate from other customers. The platform also undertakes proactive monitoring of the servers to avoid service outages, automatically activates scaling of server resources during peak traffic and sends alerts to customers during such events.

Coding and Bug Fixing

Site downtime, page not found error, product not available, etc. are issues often faced by eCommerce store owners. It is advisable to use the help of an expert Magento developer/agency to monitor your site 24/7 for code errors, shortcomings and bugs. Magento Commerce comes pre-integrated with NewRelic Application Performance Management (APM) Pro and Blackfire Enterprise. The NewRelic Application Performance Management (APM) Pro will provide Magento merchants with real-time visibility into the performance of their applications and Blackfire has been integrated to generate detailed performance metrics that will enable developers to write and automate performance tests which can then be used to debug site performance issues.

Customer Support

On signing up with Magento a Technical Account Manager will be assigned to the customer who will help the technical team during the implementation phase. The Technical Account Manager will be a dedicated resource and the primary point of contact. Magento also has a well-equipped Resource Library featuring FAQs, Videos, Tutorials, new release information, etc. There is also an active Magento Forum where you have access to a network of dedicated Magento enthusiasts sharing tips, tricks and support.

Comparison Chart

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *