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The Best E-Commerce Platforms Compared (How To Decide)

Discussion in 'E-Commerce Forum' started by keeron, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. keeron

    keeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 54 Likes: 6
    Ok, so i recently created a thread, but my personal opinions got in the way of contributing helpful content for anyone who needs to decide on what e-commerce platform to choose.

    I have tried every e-commerce platform there is, through trial and error and money wasted, i have found out what works best for me and my experiences may help you. Please bear in mind, this is for people who are having trouble deciding what to do. I hope i clear things up. In the simplest way.

    I will now put into categories the e-commerce platforms, (that are the most popular and considered the best) and i will help you decide what to choose by giving you the low-down.


    If You need To stand out from the crowd & need access to themes and fantastic web designs, without having to create them by yourself then you will be happy with these:

    Wordpress
    Joomla
    Magento ( Please Note, when i say magento i mean Community which is the free open source version)
    Opencart

    These Open Source CMS above, literally have thousands upon thousands of themes, if you only care for themes, then Wordpress Is Number 1, maybe consider Joomla as they have some Epic Designs for Joomla.

    If you need a clean Back Office, that has simple & great navigation then you will be happy with these

    Joomla
    Opencart
    Prestashop

    These 3 are superior, although wordpress is simple, it is not as Clean and functional as the above, the 3 above are perfect for starting in e-commerce, the back office gives you customers last orders, your stats such as views, and how many people viewed your site and bought something , it works out your conversions for you, one-click module installs, easy CMS managing. Magento would of been on the list, but this list is for beginners & magento is more advanced.

    If you need a website launched and up & running within 1 week

    Wordpress
    Joomla
    Opencart
    Prestashop

    If you want everything already set up for you & all you want to do is add your products and start selling

    Joomla
    Prestashop
    Abantecart

    Joomla and Prestashop have hundreds of Quickstart packages, these packages contain your themes, layout, style, modules, plug ins and the actual CMS software, which means that you can Upload your quickstart package, install it and then your website is 100% functional, all you have to do is add your products and images.

    Abantecart only has one theme, i do not recommend this, it really has potential, but having only one good theme for free makes it a non-contender and is far inferior compared to wordpress, joomla etc.
    But on the plus side, abntecart is pre-made & everything is ready to go, just add your products and start selling.

    Good SEO optimization

    From my experience, all you need to do regarding your website and products, is to make sure that your product url's are short and simple.
    e.g ww.mystore.com/macbook-pro and not ww.mystore.com/112533mbookpro , just make your url simple and contain the product name which makes it google friendly.

    This is very very basic SEO, im not here to talk about SEO, but most of the CMS make it easy to optimize SEO, although you need to do more things to get your website optimized for search engines.

    Joomla, Magento, Prestashop, Opencart,WP all have SEO plugins, whether they work or not is another question.

    Making Your Mind Up

    As some of these CMS Platforms can have 'some' of the same themes on them, you need to make your mind up focusing more on features and ease of use.

    Although Wordpress is amazing for blogs and websites, i do not reccomend it for An Online Store of serious businesses, i only recommend wordpress to those selling T-Shirts, of course Wordpress can be used for selling more than that, but unless you have a dev or your wanting a blog orientated store, then dont bother with wordpress for serious e-commerce.

    And the back-office, is inferior to those, of the likes of Magento, Joomla or Prestashop.

    Although Magento is a superior CMS, i dont recommend it for beginners.

    Joomla - This has hundreds if not thousands of themes, i can be installed with one-click and a quickstart package installs everything you need, so you can start adding your products right away. The themes are EPIC and very high quality, just like wordpress, but the shopping cart and online store is inferior to Magento or Prestashop.

    Prestashop - This only has a few themes, by few i mean around 90, and im saying a few becaue there are only a few high quality themes, prestashop has quickstart packages available, it is easy to use, easy to navigate and is awesome, although it has some bugs and issues.

    My 3 recommendations : Wordpress, Joomla, Prestashop.
    Im going to contradict my self now, even though its important to have a good back office, working enviroment, i believe that wordpress is amazing and i believe that the front end is more important than a back end, because this is were your conversions take place, i only reccomend wordpress if you have more time on your hands.

    Joomla and Prestashop are my final 2 recommendations, as you can see ive already gone over the two, but my final verdict on them is that, prestashop has superior e-commerce management, but joomla has a superior collection of themes.

    I would reccomend magento for experts or advanced CMS users.

    I hope this clears up things for you.

    You may be wondering why im not talking about OScommerce, zencart or drupal, well its because ive used these and found them inferior, Oscommerce themes are waayy below par, they are 1999 looking websites.
    Zencart's backoffice looks cheap and low quality, drupal's back office is nowhere near as good as the top 4, and has no themes compared to other CMS.

    I do not recommend Oscommerce, zen or drupal, but Find out for yourself, because when you get webhosting you get cpanel and how a choice of 20+ CMS systems.

    I do not recommend Shopify, MagentoGO, Bigcommerce, Madefreshly or any other pay monthly services. MagentoGO is not Open source, dont be confused with the free version.

    They charge you more than £400 more than you would pay for a webhost and its not easier in the long run, because they have more down time, which means your site may be offline.

    Put it this way, to get the same features as Magento Community or Joomla you will have to pay £2234 a year for Bigcommerce and £1400 on shopify, that says it all. All your paying for, is for them to upload a quickstart package, which you could do, have you ever used mediafire? well its the same thing.

    Tips : Buy web hosting for £40 a year, + £4 for domain name = £44 a year for more features, more control, more e-commerce platforms to try and over 11,000 themes, that number isnt made up, go to themeforest . net. and save over £1000 a year.

    I hope this helped
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 By: keeron Member since: Sep 6, 2013
    #1
  2. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 2,072 Likes: 606
    I am an experienced e-commerce operator, with businesses turning over many hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    I have to caution serious players against taking such generic comments too seriously.

    For a good website, to support a thriving business, budget is NOT the main issue. An investment of £10k is not much for a large business. Even £50k, still not much. The issue is about what will constitute the value in paying those higher prices. The issue is about understanding your business needs, and your plans. It maybe that £1000 is too much. It may be that £50000 is too little.
     
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
    #2
  3. keeron

    keeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 54 Likes: 6
    Although i agree with you , this was meant for beginners who want to become a serious e-commerce store, without hurting their wallets or touch their bank accounts..

    You dont need 50k to set up an online store.

    You only need £50 a year, this was aimed at people just starting out.
    My post was focused on budget, just to clear up things.

    Such as , you can get better features and more control & have access to more themes and overall a better online experience by choosing to go with a web host and use a Open Source CMS. Instead of a pre-built system such as Bigcommerce where you pay money for something that you dont even have to pay money for.

    I agree with your thinking, i was not trying to give people business advice, i was just comparing what the best of the e-commerce platforms have to offer.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 By: keeron Member since: Sep 6, 2013
    #3
  4. kulture

    kulture UKBF Legend Staff Member

    Posts: 7,291 Likes: 1,972
    Personally I would think "how to decide" should start with reviewing what market the site will be in, who you are selling to, how many products you intend to have, what competition is there, what customer facing features you want, what admin features you want, what potential systems you may want to interface with, what your growth plans are. i.e. what are the BUSINESS NEEDS.

    There is no point considering technology before this.

    Now I also think that unless you have specialist needs, or a very small product base, you will be better off going with an open source cart, rather than a CMS like Wordpress etc. as it is better to use something designed for eCommerce rather than something with eCommerce bolted on.
     
    Posted: Sep 28, 2013 By: kulture Member since: Aug 11, 2007
    #4
  5. j600com

    j600com UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    Posts: 741 Likes: 201
    Who is this guide aimed at? Retailers, or web developers?
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: j600com Member since: Apr 27, 2011
    #5
  6. keeron

    keeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 54 Likes: 6
    Retailers LOL, for beginners who dont have any knowledge on web develpoment.
    CMS and E-commerce platforms, do everything for you, so this is for beginners.
    All the retailers have to do is manage their back office and learn basic skills, no knowledge of html, css or any web dev stuff is needed to setup a CMS.

    Magento is the most advanced, which i dont recommend for beginners, although it could be used by them, it has a bigger learning curve than the others.

    This is A very basic guide.. Its Definitely not for Web developers lol..
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: keeron Member since: Sep 6, 2013
    #6
  7. j600com

    j600com UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    Posts: 741 Likes: 201
    Very few retailers will be capable of properly setting up and hosting the likes of magento on their own though (I've seen many try and fail, and in some cases almost put themselves out of business in the process!). Toying around at DIY eCommerce when you don't know what you're doing (or the pitfalls) can be disastrous, especially if you're moving from a platform already generating sales. If you're serious about selling online and it's a big part of your revenue stream I wouldn't recommend DIY to any retailer (in my opinion/experience busy retailers should focus their efforts/time on running the retail side of the business, not trying their hand at web development).
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: j600com Member since: Apr 27, 2011
    #7
  8. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    A somewhat helpful, concise comparison. Although I've already decided to go with opencart and whatnot, I thought I'd ask j600:

    Do you really think that setting up opencart, sticking a theme on there + a few 'compulsory' extensions is so difficult that a reasonably IT friendly person would find it a colossal drain on their time?
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
    #8
  9. j600com

    j600com UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    Posts: 741 Likes: 201
    Hi Will,

    That's why I asked if it was aimed at developers or retailers. My experience of working directly with retailers is that without a lot of guidance they'd not be able to build a successful eCommerce site on their own.

    The majority I've dealt with (pure play retailers) have fairly limited IT / eCommerce / SEO skills, only a minority would be able to create, host and launch something on their own. Most of them don't even have time / resource to populate a website let alone build one.
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: j600com Member since: Apr 27, 2011
    #9
  10. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Ah right, I'm not entirely sure where to put myself on that spectrum then! Could you inform me of what sort of guidance you've had to give out to those you'd say were generally incapable of building and running their own site? It might help me categorise myself.
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
    #10
  11. j600com

    j600com UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    Posts: 741 Likes: 201
    Every step of the process tbh; registering a domain, applying for payment gateways, configuring emails, how to take good photos, how to write good product titles/descriptions (for conversions and for SEO), how to add products, how to open an eBay store, how to do 301 redirects... just the tip of the iceberg. Some I've even had to teach basic IT skills such as how to copy and paste, how to take/upload an image - you'd be surprised! Very very very few of the retailers I've dealt with are capable of using anything like photoshop or able to create HTML. Even the few who think they are capable of using photoshop and have a go, are usually the ones who can't; and ruin their website the day it goes live by uploading unprofessional graphics / banners / promos to the site.

    Almost anyone can create a bad website, I agree with that. But very few can create a good / successful one, in my experience those who aren't very skilled who 'have a bash at it' rarely get the return / outcome they'd hoped for, and scrap it and start again with a professional (jeez I've just described EXACTLY what happens when I try to do DIY around the house!).
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: j600com Member since: Apr 27, 2011
    #11
  12. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Ah, I see. I haven't quite looked into writing 'good' descriptions or 301 directs at the moment, though I can evaluate my knowledge after a bit of reading up. At the end of the day I do have a techy friend who I can call upon, but I think I'm reasonably placed - I'm not as bad as the examples you've given there.

    With regards to photography though - isn't that out of your purview anyhow? I didn't think a website designer/developer would be involved in taking pictures of the various products, but I suppose I'm wrong. In fact, I'd be surprised if people made their own banners, rather than simply outsourcing that to some freelance designer or w/e.

    Thanks.
     
    Posted: Sep 29, 2013 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
    #12
  13. ProjectOcto

    ProjectOcto UKBF Regular Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 139 Likes: 18
    Although I respect and appreciate your intent with this thread..."I have tried every eCommerce platform going" - no you haven't.

    You might have tried several of the off the shelf packages that are designed to be sold en masse, but you haven't tried every eCommerce platform out there. Plenty have comparable standard features, but all do it differently. As one post said above, look at the business needs first. As another said, it depends on expectations.

    As for starter businesses, we are building a wonderful cost-effective (sub-5k) website for a start up business that does every single thing he needs (and some he didn't know he needed) right now, with a long term plan of development.

    ECommerce is not about the platform (completely) it's about the people.
     
    Posted: Oct 2, 2013 By: ProjectOcto Member since: Aug 1, 2013
    #13
  14. webgeek

    webgeek UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 3,707 Likes: 1,379
    Only looking at the SEO section, I'm going out on a limb here and saying, "Bah, poppycock".

    There are thousands of sites being hammered for dupe content because they've got the same products in multiple categories without using a robots.txt or meta robots noindex, follow. Untold thousands more who foobar'd the site trying to use the canonical tag, only to learn later that those .htaccess redirects have overriden the canonical which is then ignored.

    Descriptive URL's, short and sweet, sound great, unless you're on an exact match domain and have exact match keywords for your categories, and then suddenly you've over-optimised to the max.

    There's about 10,000 other points not covered as well, but my typewriter is out of ink. Bottom line - hasty generalisations lead to hasty bankruptcies.
     
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: webgeek Member since: May 19, 2009
    #14
  15. Core List

    Core List UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 34 Likes: 8
    Just a note, I am a small business owner and have 7 websites on Bigcommerce, I have setup several more for friends with all of them singing their praises. I am not paid by them, I just like them because they are good. To see how it looks to a user, you can visit our site - corelist.co.uk

    I recommend Bigcommerce for small retailers, who want to manage it themselves. Based on the fact, I assume your are not an IT whizz, but have a bit of common sense.

    The small monthly fee is worth it, as the system is intuitive and easy to manage. You can scale up to being very large if needed and have alot of control of your products and information if you never need to back, export it or move to another platform.
    I have used Wordpress and all sorts of Add ons for it, it is definitely not worth the hassle for a basic Ecommerce site. Bigcommerce is so much easier to use and the platform is more robust, in my opinion. They also keep things up to date, so you don't have to worry about updating your site every time an internet browser changes their setup.
     
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: Core List Member since: Oct 1, 2013
    #15
  16. keeron

    keeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 54 Likes: 6
    Huh ?

    My thread isnt about SEO, its about E-Commerce Platforms LOL!
     
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: keeron Member since: Sep 6, 2013
    #16
  17. keeron

    keeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 54 Likes: 6
    Yeah thats a nice website, well done. I like the Landing page, it looks professional and neat.
    I dont recommend wordpress either, only if you want to sell t-shirts or simple products.

    The reason why i dont recommend Bigcommerce is because they charge you money for something that you can get free. I always recommend an Open Source CMS / E- Commerce platform.

    Simply Put, i would have to pay $3600 for 12 months use of bigcommerce if i want the features of a FREE open source platform such as magento or joomla.
    I pay $60 a year for my online stores, yet if i was to use Bigcommerce i would have to pay $3600.
    So you can see why i dont recommend Bigcommerce or even Shopify, Everyone has there own preferences though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: keeron Member since: Sep 6, 2013
    #17
  18. 14Steve14

    14Steve14 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    Posts: 661 Likes: 107
    The trouble with this type of thread is the generalisations that have to be made. No two store owners would want the same things.

    I currently have an ecommerce site built using oscommerce. It is now nearing time to re do the store. But what to use. I tried most of the free ecommerce offerings from cpanel. None of them had the features that I wanted and currently had. They all needed some form of added module or what ever. Some even came with a load of stuff that can only be described as bloat. Some were very poorly coded and others have very poor support. Some even had paid for modules that didnt work. I failed miserable with magneto, and decided against it as it is generally accepted that it requires too much effort to work, and the hosts may not like it being there.

    For my sins and because I know the product I have chosen oscommerce again. I have addded and converted a lot of addons to work not only with each other, but also with the latest version. The store may not be the best, but I am happy, so thats all that matters, well i hope it is.

    Oscommerce is recently undergoing a bit of a revamp, and currently is undergoing a lot of developement work, which it needed. There are weekly core code updates if you want to use them, all aimed at the next release, which could be available god knows when. I will personally wait until the next release is complete and then do the whole store thing again.
     
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: 14Steve14 Member since: May 18, 2010
    #18
  19. bluenun

    bluenun UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 363 Likes: 35
    There is never a true winner - as it all depends on the end users requirements

    Do you want it integrated in your site - or in the cloud
    Do you have certain product options / combinations - it varies a great deal
    Upselling - cross selling
    Discounts - vouchers
    SEO friendly
    No of products
    Does it scale or do you only need small scale
    payment gateways or lack of
    etc etc etc
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: bluenun Member since: Dec 11, 2008
    #19
  20. bumperman

    bumperman UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 122 Likes: 9
    Keeron & others who have contributed to this thread:

    Nobody has even mentioned the importance of responsive themes for mobile screens!

    bumperman
     
    Posted: Oct 3, 2013 By: bumperman Member since: Mar 8, 2006
    #20