Hello. People often ask me: how to choose a shopping cart software for my online store? This is actually a very vast topic to discuss, but we’ll try to simplify it as we always do. As we always say in our videos, there are 2 big groups of eCommerce software. We will first take care about the industry structure, I’ll tell you more about what differences these various products have and then we’ll get to how to choose a specific option for me.
Groups of the eCommerce software
The downloadable products which you have to host on your own servers and the SaaS-options with which the provider hosts everything for you on their own servers — these are the 2 big groups of the eCommerce software.
The downloadable options can also be divided into 2 subgroups some of which are beginner-friendly and the others are enterprise-friendly. This is actually a very complicated group but I’ll just put it this way: enterprise options are better for big stores with thousands and thousands of products, with custom selling features and stuff. The obvious leader in this section is Magento.
The beginner-friendly group can also be divided into 2 subgroups: the stand-alone products and the CMS-based products. The difference is that the stand-alone ones aren’t actually based on any other product. This means basically that you install PrestaShop engine or OpenCart engine and that’s all. That pretty much makes your store already functional.
In order to have the CMS-based option installed you need to install the CMS first. For example, WooCommerce or Jigoshop are based on WordPress. This means that you have first to install WordPress and then you install the shopping cart functionality on top of WordPress. The same goes with VirtueMart, the difference is that it is based on Joomla CMS.
With SaaS the obvious leader is Shopify, they host stuff for you and they allow you to host the database, manage everything on their servers, this means you would not have to install anything on your own server, you don’t have to buy hosting on your own and actually everything has been done for you.
So what should I choose?
The boring part is over, we’re getting to the part where we will try to define which specific option is better for this or that situation.
Clearly, Shopify is the most beginner-friendly option, so if you have absolutely zero experience in web technologies, if you know nothing about hostings, configuration, installations and stuff, that’s probably the better option for you.
The downside of Shopify or other SaaS options is that you have literally zero control over the functionality of your store. Something that’s been already built into the Shopify functionality, is there to stay. You cannot change that, you cannot add anything on top of that.
The other significant part about Shopify is that it’s actually more suitable for stores that are relatively small. You’re not going to be able to sell thousands and thousands of products through your Shopify store. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a bad thing, well, actually, Shopify is normally used by very small businesses like the individual level – if that’s you, you should probably consider Shopify.
Stand-alone and beginner-friendly products
The next group is the stand-alone beginner-friendly software products. This group consists primarily of PrestaShop, OpenCart and a couple of other options. The good thing about them is that they are also beginner-friendly, maybe a little less beginner-friendly than the SaaS options but still a complete beginner may pretty much take a good care of his store and people may install everything on their own if they invest a little time into researching how it’s done. And you have a lot more control over the functionality of your store, you can change some minor featured elements there and the downside is that it still does require a configuration.
As I have said, you have to be ready to invest some time into researching how things are done with these software products. And the other significant downside of this is that they will not work well for big stores with thousands and thousands of products. If you have a relatively small store or a medium-sized business, that’s absolutely not a problem for you. However, if you think that your business is going to grow and you are going to need to scale it to a bigger scale, then you might consider other options.
The CMS-based beginner-friendly products have pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages as the stand-alone ones, however I would say that the fact they are based on CMS products like WordPress or Joomla is also an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time.
If you are used to working with WordPress for example then of course naturally it is going to be a lot easier for you to work with the eCommerce software based on what you already know. However there’s also a sort of a limitation, because sometimes that’s not the most convenient thing to do and sometimes they have some limitations in terms of features and functionality that are caused by the fact that they are based on the other CMS product.
For example, with VirtueMart the bad thing is that Joomla itself which VirtueMart is based on is kind of vulnerable and it’s less secure than the software with another options.
So, the last groups, the Enterprise-friendly software products, are the most scalable ones – they are used by the big online stores with thousands of products or even hundreds of thousands of products.
It’s very scalable and very feature-rich – you can integrate virtually anything that you can think of into the Magento-based store, for example. The significant downside of this is that Magento-powered stores are very much resource-intensive. You’re gonna have to invest some money into the special kind of hosting, like the dedicated hosting or the VPS-hosting in order to have your store running smoothly.
Also you have to be ready to invest into the developer’s time and that’s actually is not a very cheap thing to do, because developer’s time is expensive and still Magento is a pretty complicated software to work with, so you have to be ready to work with someone who knows a thing or two about that. Or you have to be ready to learn this whole thing on your own.
Summing up things…
I hope this answers the question, that pretty much makes it clear on what to use, based on your experience, on your needs, on the scale of your business, you may choose your own version of the shopping cart software and use it successfully. Thanks for watching, see you next time, bye-bye.
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