A myriad of businesses are moving to e-commerce. An instrumental stage in this exciting evolution of a business is choosing which e-commerce platform to use.

Three of the world’s more popular ones are (in alphabetical order):

  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce

In this article, we’ll explore these platforms in an effort to help you determine if one of these, and if so which specific one, you should choose to build your next e-commerce store.

Magento

Magento is an open source platform that started in 2008 and written on PHP. In 2018, it was sold to Adobe for $1.68 Billion.

Based on Datanyze’s data of Alexa’s Top 1 Million websites, at the time of this writing, it held 3.35% marketshare and ranked #4 as the world’s most popular CMSs.

Some Benefits:

  • It has the capacity to handle large volumes of complex product offerings well. Magento can be a fine choice for companies who need to offer facet search functionality; that is, products that have multiple variations to them (not limited to this sector, but many manufacturing companies find themselves in this situation).
  • At least these three popular ERP/CRMs integrate well with Magento: Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, SAP.
  • Having been purchased by Adobe is a nod that it will be provided adequate resources for some time to come.
  • It’s open-source so has a broad community building new technologies for it regularly.
  • It has a paid option that provides access to further integrations, hosting and support.

Some Limitations:

  • At only 3.55% marketshare its dev community won’t be as large as a platform like WooCommerce and Shopify (at 32% and 14.5% marketshares, respective) so can it be more difficult to find development teams with Magento as a core competency.
  • You will need to find your own hosting service (like an Amazon Web Services) and manage your own security and QA updates.
  • Based on Datanyze’s data, at the time of this writing, it actually decreased in recent net new websites on its platform.
  • You will need to find a skillful team to implement.

Shopify

Shopify, based in Ottawa, Canada, is a fast-growing proprietary e-commerce platform. Founded in 2008, it’s publicly traded on the NYSE and in 2019 did $1.58 Billion in revenue.

Based on Datanyze’s data of Alexa’s Top 1 Million websites, at the time of this writing, it held 14.52% marketshare and ranked #3 as the world’s most popular CMSs.

Some Benefits:

  • Its setup to be very out-of-the-box so can be fast for a company to get going.
  • Many pre-built themes to save initial design and development time for start-ups.
  • Not as much technical experience is needed to setup an e-commerce website like you would with platforms like Magento and WooCommerce.
  • Good when the product offerings are simple.
  • Support is provided even on the basic package (although email support was recently eliminated).
  • All Shopify websites are hosted by Shopify which decreases the store’s cost and time to manage security and upgrades.
  • An easy-to-use content management system for a non-developer to update content, fulfill product orders, etc.
  • Maintenance is reasonably priced (currently $29 USD plus taxes / month which includes hosting)

Some Limitations:

  • There are some limitations with regular Shopify (more flexibility with these three items provided with their enterprise product, Shopify Plus):
    • More than one currency can’t be offered on the same website.
    • Very little alterations can occur to the cart/checkout experience.

A screenshot of a Shopify website that tbk built for national Canadian film distributor, ND Graphics.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open source PHP-written plug-in for WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. It was started in 2011, and in 2015, was purchased for $30 million by the operating company of WordPress, Automattic.

Based on Datanyze’s data of Alexa’s Top 1 Million websites, at the time of this writing, WooCommerce held 32.00% marketshare and ranked #1 as the world’s most popular e-commerce platform.

Some Benefits:

  • A natural e-commerce platform if you wish for your main website to remain on WordPress
  • With 32% marketshare, it has a large development community that’s frequently releasing new software upgrades for the platform.
  • WooCommerce is known for good Search Engine Optimizations. It has plug-ins like Yoast—that give more SEO control to web authors—that are compatible with it.
  • Because of its compatibility with WordPress, it can provide a good blend for organizations who wish to provide an e-commerce and content-heavy experience.
  • WooCommerce has made very good inroads in recent years with more complex product offerings (i.e., variant search). Although this used to be Magento’s distinguishing value proposition, in our experience, WooCommerce has done an excellent job catching up.

Some Limitations:

  • You will need to find your own hosting service and manage your own security and QA updates.
  • No upgrade option for paid support.
  • You will need a skillful development team to implement.

A screenshot of a WooCommerce / WordPress website tbk built for indoor barn door and closet manufacturer, Renin.

Your Next E-Commerce Website

At 35+ staff members and a team of 10 professional developers, tbk specializes in building and marketing e-commerce websites on all the major platforms including: Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. Contact us if you wish to book a call and chat more.

About the Authors

Andrew Schiestel is a co-founder and principal at tbk; Andre LeFort is a principal and VP Technology at tbk.