E-commerce Solutions (Part 1)

This post is to help compare the platforms of shopify, magento, squarespace, and woo commerce as solutions to selling products online.  These are the four largest platforms that allow you to create your own store and administer to it, as opposed to marketplaces like ebay, etsy, or amazon.  These platforms also sometimes offer the ability to sell your product on amazon, or another platform. This document is prepared by mheadley.inc@gmail.com and is intended as generic client education. Revised last: October 30, 2018

Popular Platforms

Shopify

Shopify is a platform (cloud based only) solution.  This means that your store products etc are uploaded or created in the cloud.  You must use their dashboard etc to administer to your products. You must also use their plugin system to achieve feature not standard.  Non-standard features are: cart recovery emails, order pickup, and a few others features. The real kicker to note with shopify is that they create and maintain an ecosystem that your shop lives in.  That being said all extra features are charged at subscription rates like $7.99/month. Not like buying a plugin that you pay $30 one time. If all the features you need to achieve add up to a large monthly subscription consider if its worth it. Cloud only, no local instance.  Development costs can be high if you don’t find a specific shopify developer. To open/work with themes and know specialized markup (liquid).

Woo Commerce

WordPress is powerful and supports a large portion of the internet. Within wordpress ecosystem also sits a woo-commerce group of plugins that is vast, dozens of plugins. That being said the capabilities are nearly limitless.  The only drawback is role and permissions plugin, they don’t work so well along with this plugin. Its own internal security plugins lack sophistication and fine grain control. All other needs can usually be solved by free or low-cost plugins. Can run locally, in the cloud on WP engine etc.

Squarespace

This beautifully designed site and set of sites is what sets it apart from other platforms.  This platform puts design before features. You can easily switch out the looks and feel for your store but issues like security, real world inventory management are notably missing from the official offerings.  More for small business that would rather manually do things, and when design (and the ability to change it at a moments notice) is important. Cloud based. No local installs. Development is harder if you can’t find exactly the look and feel you want in their gallery. You have to be squarespace developer to open/work with themes and know specialized markup.

Magento

This platform does everything you can think of.  Sadly unlike all the other items this is not a cloud based solution and not possible to be. The cloud based offering called commerce cloud is magento-LIKE and accepts exports etc from magento. BTW, this is newer than the base magento code you download. I would suggest cloud over base magento because of customizability. With old magento, you are in charge of running your servers etc.  Runs in PHP so need a developer familiar with it. Huge sink in development time because of file structure in magento less than the latest version. With magento you have also the ability to choose a subscription service or plugins for some of your needs that is flexibility for growth.

In part 2 we will break it down in a table and see just how these features stack up to business needs.

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