Ecommerce Platforms in Detail. How Does each One Perform?
If you operate a small, medium or large online business and wish to be on a viable platform where your website can be properly managed, then being on an e-commerce site is where you should be.
E-commerce sites are software applications designed to cater to the general operation, marketing, and sales of an online business. E-commerce platforms provide businesses with useful features and integrated tools that will enhance their website and online business.
Many business owners leverage on the services of e-commerce platforms in order to boost traffic to their site, conversion rates, their customer base, and profit margins.
Indeed e-commerce platforms are here to stay and they have become an essential part of the success story of businesses online.
Which Ecommerce platforms are available?
There are a number of e-commerce sites and each has their pros and cons. Some of the most revered e-commerce platforms available online include; BigCommerce, Episerver Digital Commerce, Kentico, OpenCart, SAP Commerce Cloud, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Shopify Plus, Squarespace, WooCommerce, Weebly, and Wix.
However, for the purpose of this article, only three of the top e-commerce platforms will be highlighted. These include Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart.
Shopify Ecommerce Platform
In 2004, Shopify came into existence in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake.
Shopify is a multinational e-commerce platform designed for online businesses, stores, and also retail PoS (Point-of-Sale) systems. With Shopify, online retailers are offered a variety of services that take care of marketing, payments, and shipping of online store items.
In addition, Shopify offers small scale merchants a number of customer-friendly interactive tools that help them in operating their online retail store in a seamless way.
WooCommerce eCommerce Platform
WooCommerce is an e-commerce platform that has been designed to suit the needs of small, medium, and large scale online stores with the use of WordPress.
It was officially launched in 2011 by Mike Jolley and James Koster as an open-source, e-commerce software application for WordPress.
WooCommerce is easy to install as well as customize. It also comes with a number of free-to-use products.
Opencart E-Commerce Platform
OpenCart is a PHP-based online store management system. It utilizes both HTML components and a MySQL database.
Established in 2010 by OpenCarr Ltd, this e-commerce platform offers support for a variety of languages as well as currencies.
By 2016, it was estimated that over 340,000 online sites had subscribed to OpenCart. In addition, OpenCart is available for free under GNU General Public License.
Which of the e-commerce platforms show better Speed, Flexibility, Product Management, and SEO performance?
When it comes to the top e-commerce platforms in the market, then Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart are right up there.
They are all designed to help online businesses of all kinds to excel in their industry. These platforms provide professional templates/themes designed for all industry types and can either be adopted or customized by online retail stores.
While these three e-commerce platforms share similar features and functions, each offers greater strengths than others in certain aspects such as; Flexibility, Speed, Product Management, and SEO performance. Details of this can be found in the analysis below;
#1: Flexibility Comparison
With regards to flexibility, here is what to expect from Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart.
Shopify features over 100 professional templates and themes for B2B and B2C online businesses.
They offer mobile-friendly online stores and users can directly edit their sites in either CSS or HTML. In addition, Shopify provides users with a proprietary hosting service and blogging capabilities.
Users also have access to unlimited bandwidth, site analytics, and their platform is SEO friendly as well. Shopify offers a drag and drops user interface which is cool to use and highly user-friendly. You have a number of customizable tools to enhance your user experience in both the short and long run.
With WooCommerce you have the option of free shipping or shipping at a flat rate. It also provides users with the ability to check the performance of the following; incoming sales, inventory, reviews, and the general performance level of the store.
The tax settings can be configured with local tax rates as well as tax classes. However, due to its open-source nature, you would require both WordPress and WooCommerce updates. Users would have to edit their image HTML files as the visual tabs tend to be frustrating.
Unlike Shopify, the entire maintenance of an online store on WooCommerce rests with the owner of the store. Many extensions are not free-to-use on WooCommerce.
OpenCart offers users an unlimited number of categories with over 18,000 extensions available for use. It supports multi-currencies, multiple tax rates, sales reports, about 8 shipping methods, and product ratings/reviews.
Compared to other e-commerce solutions, OpenCart is easy to set-up. However, its functionality is not the best.
Updating the e-commerce platform tends to bring up far too many error messages and paid plugins aren't exempted from these errors.
In terms of flexibility of use, Shopify has rated ahead of WooCommerce and OpenCart with WooCommerce coming second.
#2: SEO Comparison
The ranking of your e-business by search engines is absolutely essential to the success of your online store. In comparing the SEO capabilities of Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart.
It must be said that recent statistics on the "Best e-commerce Platform" by researchers show that WooCommerce is ranked 98 while Shopify is ranked 97 over 100 in terms of its SEO functionality.
However, since OpenCart is free-to-use, it will assure you of fundamental SEO features which you can get from other high-end e-commerce sites.
OpenCart allows you to assign both meta descriptions and keywords for each and every one of your products as well as category pages for your online store.
In terms of SEO capabilities, WooCommerce takes the top spot, while Shopify comes second, and OpenCart a close third.
#3: Site Speed Comparison
The loading speed of your online store on an e-commerce platform is very important. It can either increase traffic to your site or drastically diminish it. With a fast loading speed and increased traffic, you would greatly enhance your conversion rates and customer base.
Typically, excellent site speed is one that loads within 1 to 3 seconds and has a low site bounce rate of about 32%. If a site opens within 1 to 5 seconds, the bounce rate is as high of about 90%.
On the other hand, a store that loads in 1 to 6 seconds has a steep bounce rate of 106% while one that loads in 1 to 10 seconds has a very high bounce rate of 123%.
E-commerce platforms with faster loading times help the ranking of online stores on search engine search results. In the case of Shopify, it has a faster loading time than WooCommerce and OpenCart.
The main reason for this is because Shopify uses dedicated servers. In addition, Shopify has SSL certificates, but with both OpenCart and WooCommerce, you would have to purchase the right security certificate.
When comparing the loading speed of Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart, Shopify takes the top spot because of its dedicated servers with WooCommerce coming next and OpenCart lagging behind.
#4: Product Management
Product management is an essential part of operating an online store on an e-commerce platform. All the three e-commerce solutions under review offer users some level of control of their displayed products.
With Shopify, users can customize their product description layout as well as modify their product image size or make use of the zoom and 3D options.
WooCommerce and OpenCart also offer similar product management capabilities, but users may need to purchase extensions if they intend to optimize the product management functions of these platforms.
When put into perspective, Shopify leads the way in terms of product management with both WooCommerce and OpenCart following suit.
#5: Payment Integrations
With Shopify, WooCommerce, and OpenCart you have an extensive number of payment gateway solutions that include;
-PayPal payment gateway solution,
-SagePay payment solution,
-Authorize payment solution,
-Alipay payment gateway solution,
-Stripe payment solution,
-PayFast payment gateway,
-2Checkout Payment Solution
Receiving online payments through virtual channels dedicated to your online store sales is an important part of e-business. Luckily the three e-commerce platforms offer this solution.
Comparing the Pricing Plan for Shopify, WooCommerce and OpenCart e-commerce platforms
In terms of pricing, OpenCart takes the lead. Getting on-board the platform is virtually free, but you will only have access to limited features. OpenCart offers over 13,000 extensions in their marketplace which come as both free and paid extensions. So, any upgrade to your current scheme may need to be paid for. WooCommerce is also free to board a WordPress e-commerce plugin platform. It also offers free to install updates. However, there are many paid-for extensions and plugins that you can acquire to boost your WooCommerce experience.
With Shopify, you have a 14-day free trial period after which you will have to subscribe to one of three different service plans. To subscribe to the basic service plan, you will have to pay as much as USD$29 per month.
Though Shopify is not free after the trial period, once your subscription payment is made, you will be capable of selling an unlimited number of products from your personalized online store.
In addition, you will be able to take advantage of the advanced functionality on the e-commerce platform, such as the free use of social media "buy buttons" - Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
By using external payment gateways like Amazon and PayPal you will be charged a transaction fee of 2% under the basic plan for example. Ultimately, in the short-term WooCommerce and OpenCart would be great e-commerce solution options for start-ups. But for a more comprehensive user experience Shopify would be the e-commerce platform to board.
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