There are two major categories with e-commerce platforms: hosted and self-hosted. Hosted simply means that the company will host your store, while self-hosted means they will provide you with software, but you have to get your own Web hosting.
For stability purposes, I recommend going with hosted versions because you always have dedicated support and chances of it going down due to hosting are slim to none. The downside of hosted software is that you will have to pay a monthly fee, and sometimes it can be pretty high.
Shopify is quickly becoming my favorite e-commerce platform. The user interface of the admin panel is simply gorgeous. Although it has its limitations, there aren’t many things I wasn’t able to accomplish with it.
The biggest downside is the limited ability to change the checkout page. Although you have some control over it, it is minor. So if you’re trying to design the checkout page to be exactly how you want, Shopify is probably not for you. In fact, none of the hosted solutions will offer customizable checkout process so you can jump the the Self-Hosted section right away.
One area where Shopify easily beats is competition is with awesome add-on apps. Just like your smartphone, Shopify has many apps that you can download and install on your store, which extend the default or introduce new functionality. Their entire app process is set up much better than the competition and they have the most available apps, too.
Shopify starts at $29/mo. And if you use their credit card processor, you will only have to pay the standard 2.9 percent + 30 cent rate. If you upgrade to a higher plan, the per-transaction fee is lower.
This is an e-commerce platform that has been around for ages. Perhaps the criticism I am about to unleash on it could be attributed to that.
Although used by a large majority of big e-commerce websites, Magento is a platform I would advice most companies against. There are many reasons for this, but difficulty to customize would be my number one.
The platform is like a giant complex dinosaur that just won’t quit. Yes, it has plenty of features and then some, but the user interface is not friendly at all. It is a classic example of a product designed by engineers and developers who do not really understand what makes a user interface great.
Out of the box, Magento is a slow and sluggish platform and until you spend hours or days messing with caching extensions and settings, you probably won’t be happy with its performance.There’s many different things to fix the problem, but the fact that you have to specifically fix the issue is a big no-no for me already.
Comparing WordPress to Magento is difficult because WordPress is a WordPress plugin so it depends very much on WordPress. You cannot use WordPress without WordPress.
WordPress is great because it offers ultimate customizability. Anything you can do with WordPress, you can do with WordPress. Only WordPress developers will understand what I mean, but using actions, hooks, and filters to make enhancements or changes to functionality is pretty sweet and efficient.
As with anything WordPress, the resources available are endless. You have access to millions of themes and plugins to do exactly what you want. And in the rare scenario where you need something custom, there are many quality developers waiting to work.
Because WordPress is a WordPress plugin, you also get all the goodies that come with WordPress. That means blogging on your e-commerce store comes standard and is all very neatly organized. Compare that with Magento where you have to install a blogging extension just to even start blogging.
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Overall, I think WordPress is a better and safer choice than Magento. Unless you have millions of dollars in your development and maintenance budget, you shouldn’t really touch Magento.
If you use Magento, you will need custom development sooner or later and there’s no way getting around that. In fact, you will probably need a developer on call 24/7 for whenever you want to do any minor change to your store.
So who are the ultimate winners here? I would say it is between Shopify and WordPress. If you are a big company with lots of products, clients, and traffic, then Shopify is a safer choice to go with because you will have better and more dedicated support. WordPress is perfect for average and smaller stores that just need a store to sell a few things and sell them right!
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