Sep 18

Tips to choose the right eCommerce platform

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

Choosing an eCommerce platform for your online store can be a complex decision-making process. To make it a little easier, we are featuring a series of blog posts on the pros and cons of the most popular platforms and how they compare on features, scalability, pricing, etc. In the first blog, we are doing a detailed review of the basic features – Design, CMS, Extensions & third-party integrations and Marketing.

Shopify

Design

Shopify is one of the leaders in the SaaS eCommerce space. Incredibly easy to use, Shopify is often described as the WordPress of hosted eCommerce Platforms. With Shopify, you can quickly configure your online store and be up and running. Shopify’s biggest attraction is its drag and drop functionality. This means you don’t need to have design and coding skills to set up your shop. All you need to do is choose a theme and use the versatile drag-and-drop functionality to configure your pages, add and remove sections, etc.

However, the general feeling is that the designs and functionalities are more or less standardized, limiting creativity and leaving you with a store that closely resembles others on the Shopify platform.

CMS

Shopify CMS comes loaded with features that allow you to manage products, sales, orders, payment gateways, data reports, etc. The CMS allows you to add, list, and organize products easily. The admin interface is easy to use and provides you with vital shop information, real-time statistics, inventory details and other key information. An intuitive admin screen allows you to manage blogs, publish articles, etc., making it a full-fledged CMS as well as a shopping cart. 

Extensions & third-party integrations

It is not enough to just set up your store on a chosen eCommerce platform. You need to integrate several tools to effectively market your store and offer a good customer experience. Email marketing and social media tools are a few of them. Shopify has an App Store where you can purchase and install modules for added functionality. It also provides a full-featured Shopify API that allows developers to build their own extensions for any new functionality required. However, large and growing companies require features like order management and complex product catalogs which are not supported by Shopify.

Marketing

Once your shop is up and running you have to get visibility and drive traffic to it. SEO plays a crucial role here. Shopify does not fare well when it comes to SEO and the platform’s lack of flexibility has been a topic of discussion in the SEO community. First and foremost a clear URL structure is a must to help visitors and search engines navigate your site successfully. Shopify’s URL structure is rigid and does not allow you to freely customize store-level page URLs. For blog pages, you need to display the folder as/blog/news/, which is not a great structure for SEO optimization.

The page metadata (title, description) plays an important role in how well your page ranks in search results. Shopify lacks a native functionality to define meta-information templates and you need an app to enable it. 

BigCommerce

Design

BigCommerce is a hosted solution and an ideal choice for beginners. It’s built with PHP and quite easy to work with if you are familiar with the LAMP stack. Creating a well-designed store is a walk in the park with BigCommerce. The drag and drop functionality and the hundreds of templates make the design process easy and seamless. You even have the option to build a completely custom site. The templates are mobile-responsive and render well on various devices.

CMS

BigCommerce has a powerful Content Management System which allows you to manage your entire business efficiently from one location. However complex your product catalog is, the CMS functionality allows you to add, revise, and categorize products easily. With the help of the built-in order and inventory management system, you can track, manage, and fulfil sales across every channel. 

Extensions & third-party integrations

The success of your store depends on how well it can be integrated with third-party software like an ERP, POS, or 3PL. You will also have to sync orders, inventory details, customer and product information between the various systems. BigCommerce has a powerful API that integrates well with other systems. From managing product catalogs, shopper checkout to integrating point-of-sale, shipping, distribution and inventory management, BigCommerce has solutions that will help you scale your business easily.

Marketing

One of the best things about BigCommerce is its SEO functionality. BigCommerce allows URLs to be customized and structured in a search-friendly way. It is also very easy to change the metadata, page titles, etc. compared to other platforms. BigCommerce integrates well with MailChimp and iContact, allowing you to use email marketing to promote your products and store.

WooCommerce

Design

WooCommerce is a very popular open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress sites, so it’s a good choice if you already have a greatly designed and content-rich WordPress site and want to add eCommerce functionality. Like all other platforms, WooCommerce provides multiple themes for your storefront. While a few of the themes are free, most of the good ones have to be purchased. The themes are fully customizable and mobile responsive. 

CMS

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems and WooCommerce seamlessly integrates commerce with content. You can publish great content to improve your website’s searchability and drive traffic. WooCommerce has many outstanding CMS features: ability to create landing pages that go straight to check-out, feature to embed products into blog posts, tags to describe products that help customers in their search, ability to add products and manage orders easily, etc.

Extensions & third-party integrations

WooCommerce does not come with many built-in features and you have to rely on third-party extensions. A few features like blogging and one-click refunds come built-in, while you need to pick and choose the rest of the features depending on the functionalities you require. They have a large marketplace with different kinds of extensions – from third-party logistics to payments, marketing, analytics, etc.

Marketing

WooCommerce does not have many marketing tools. As with third-party integrations, you need to choose from the marketing extensions in the marketplace. While there are around 90 extensions, the time and effort required to identify the right one and integrate them are significant and every plug-in has to be purchased which raises the cost of ownership. 

OpenCart

Design

If you’re looking to manage multiple online stores from a single back-end, OpenCart is one of your top options. It is easy to use, powerful, open-source online store platform, based on PHP with MySQL database and HTML components. One of its key differentiators is that it supports multiple languages and currencies. OpenCart provides both standard and premium templates to design your store-front. You can either choose to keep your costs low by customizing a standard template to match your brand colors, or go for a premium template with additional features. These templates can be customized completely to stand out from the crowd. 

CMS

OpenCart comes with a default CMS that manages content using Modules & Layouts. From Product listings to Searches, Checkout, and payment gateway, it offers everything an online store needs to be managed efficiently.

The OpenCart platform offers several extensions, such as the ability to calculate shipping weight and allow customers to easily view products in their shopping cart.

Marketing

OpenCart allows you to customize page titles and metadata so that your store ranks high in search engine rankings. If your store has multiple categories and products, OpenCart facilitates HTML sitemap creation which improves the searchability and page rankings. 

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Design

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a highly scalable, cloud-based SaaS eCommerce platform. Concerning design, the biggest drawback of SFCC is that there is no built-in template purchase functionality. Designs need to be customized and built from scratch. A design feature that you don’t find in many other platforms is the integration of A/B testing – i.e. you can create very different user flows and test them to assess user experience. For example, you can create a 4-page checkout vs. a 1-page checkout, test it and choose the one that users like the most. Another key feature of SFCC is its multi-store functionality – you can power many stores with one back-end, which is not the case with some platforms.

CMS

Salesforce’s CMS allows you to create, manage, and deploy content from a central location. A hybrid content management system, the Salesforce CMS allows you to develop and share content in multiple languages and even share it across multiple channels in just one click.

Extensions & third-party integrations

The SFCC marketplace does not feature many plug-ins but all are certified for both code and speed performance. Pre-built certified integrations for payment accelerators, ratings, reviews and loyalty programs are available to improve the shopping experience.

Marketing

SFCC’s built-in marketing functionality is world-class. It comes with strong native merchandising and personalization features, as well as omnichannel capabilities which make it a hot favorite amongst online store owners.

Magento 2

Design

Magento offers a wide variety of free and premium themes that are mobile responsive. You also have the option to develop custom designs but the downside is that they could be incompatible with newer Magento versions. To make it user-friendly, Magento has many features like a drag-and-drop Page Builder, Content Staging and Preview that help you create unique pages and brand experiences without needing a developer. Magento strives hard to provide an engaging customer experience by enabling eCommerce stores to offer services like buy online and pick up in-store, pre-ordering, as well as ship from store.

CMS

Magento supports multiple languages, currencies and multiple pricing. Also, you can create and manage multiple storefronts within a single admin panel. The one-step checkout, easy and simple interface and advanced navigation are all designed to offer a great user experience, as are the in-built reporting and analytics feature that allows you to manage your business better.

Extensions & third-party integrations

Magento technology providers are constantly innovating and coming up with native extensions that help eCommerce store owners manage logistics, payments, order management, etc. easily. There are over 3600 native extensions available in the Magento Marketplace – it is by far the largest and most varied offering compared to other platforms.

Magento also enables integrations with third-party applications like CRM, ERP and marketing automation systems, which allows for additional customization of your shop. It also has pre-existing integrations with numerous third-party applications like Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) solution, Vertex tax management software, SAP enterprise resource planner (ERP) and QuickBooks accounting suite. This helps you save time and development costs.

Marketing

Magento is 100% search engine friendly. The meta-information for products, categories & content pages, along with the full control over URLs ensure that your site ranks high in search engine results pages. Other useful features are the auto-generated site maps for display on site, Google Content API for shopping, etc. 

Magento comes with a bunch of marketing and promotion tools – landing page for categories, multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts, up-sell and cross-sell functionality for related products, a persistent shopping cart, product bundling and others. 

Comparison Chart

eCommerce PlatformsDesignCMSExtensions
& 3
rd Party Integrations
Marketing
Shopify



BigCommerce



WooCommerce



OpenCart



SFCC



Magento



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