Top 5 ecommerce platforms in 2016 (part II)

Earlier this year, I’ve written a short presentation about the top 5 ecommerce platforms users were interested in back in 2016. In today’s article, we’re talking about the advantages and disadvantages of each ecommerce platform.

I. Magento


  • Flexibility – The architecture of Magento allows you to customize templates and to develop functionality according to your needs as this is an open source platform.
  • Feature-rich – Magento’s community version allows you to manage multiple storefronts, multi-location, multi-currency, multi-language with a user-friendly UI and easy navigation.
  • Pricing – The community version is free for small to medium sized businesses. Magento Enterprise costs $18,000 per year for enterprise business solution.
  • Community – Magento has large community users, who have developed many plugins and extension, which will help you in real-time. Apart from that, it has a simple back-end and organized store that can be easily managed.
  • Large shops – Due to its’ structure, Magento platforms are suitable for very large shops with multiple products.


  • Hosting – Magento needs a dedicated server that is specialized in Magento. Normal hosting platforms cannot handle it due to its bulkiness and that results in slow and irritating user experience.
  • Pricing – Enterprise version will cost you around $18,000 a year, and it’s more for a customized premium enterprise.
  • Time – Even on having a flexible architecture, customization is hard to make because of its loading speed on different platforms


II. Woocommerce


  • Pricing – One of the greatest benefits of WooCommerce is that it is free. This toolkit will make selling products online very easy, and it will not cost you a thing.
  • Customizable – It can be easily customized with a variety of themes which can also be further modified for color variety.
  • Compatibility – Since it is updated on a regular basis, it will always be compatible with newer versions of WordPress and will not experience a lot of bugs.
  • Large community support – A large community support, especially for an open source software such as Woocommerce, ensures that bugs and other problems are easily weeded out.


  • Frequent Updates – Although WordPress operates frequent software updates, this means two things for you. You will need to constantly update your plugins and WordPress install, and sometimes this may not go as smooth as planned, and secondly, not all plugins are updated as soon as a new WordPress version is out. This will leave you with security vulnerabilities and the possibility of discontinued plugins.
  • Content management doesn’t always look like planned – When making visual updates, it may be possible at times that these updates will not look as you intended them.
  • Theme customization – If you are not using an out of the box customizable theme, or one built entirely for your needs, you may find yourself in the situation where a theme advertises some features which aren’t available in the base download, and you will be charged for a better version of the theme.
  • Security vulnerabilities – WordPress has faced some serious hacking attacks lately which affected a large number of websites. Although there are frequent platform updates, you will need to take extra steps to ensure the security of your WordPress based platform.


III. Shopify


  • Security – Shopify can handle speed and security at a “global” platform level – they can do it especially well: provide 100% SSL, keep their sites screaming fast, and integrate with payment providers well.
  • Multiple Features – Shopify offers a large number of key features like store customization or implementing Analytics code.
  • Support – They have a huge database of FAQs, email/chat support, and phone support – with a real, knowledgeable rep on the other side, making it easy for you to get quick answers.
  • SEO-friendly – Shopify creates 100% crawlable, clean code. They allow custom Title tags, and meta descriptions, a key feature for Marketing in our days.


  • Prices – Shopify comes with four elements of pricing: monthly price (monthly fee charged for using Shopify), platform transaction fees (depending on the plan you use, you might need to pay fees for the transactions operated on your store), credit card fees (Shopify recently set up their own POS & processing network so you don’t have to go through a 3rd party processor. That means fees go to Shopify rather than a processor like PayPal or, add-on fees (customized plugins will cost you extra).
  • Customization – If you are looking to customize the code of your Shopify version, you are going to have a pretty hard time, due to the fact that the code is not written in PHP as in common ecommerce platforms, but in Liquid which is their own tweaking of the Twig template engine for PHP developed by SensioLabs.
  • Specific Jargon – The usage of Liquid setup over normal PHP is an odd choice, also the usage of specific terms as “collections” over categories, makes the learning curve a bit steep.


IV. Prestashop


  • Flexibility – PrestaShop can be customized according to the preferences of the store owner. The administrator can add or delete any of the integrated functionality through the admin panel. Also, it is very light at 5.5 MB, so even users with a slow internet connection will enjoy deploying PrestaShop.
  • Official marketplace – PrestaShop has an official marketplace for themes and commercial modules, with a number of over 3,500 modules and themes to enhance your store.
  • Interface – The interface gives you the ability to operate through all of the online storefront, effortlessly. Technical jargon is kept to a minimum with most of the emphasis on ease of use and clarity.
  • Cost: PrestaShop is free to use with no transaction or monthly fees.
  • Community and support – PrestaShop has cultivated an active user community, it also offers and FAQ section and User Guide to help you through your experience. The community is reachable in the forum and issues can be reported to a bug tracker.
  • Currency and languages: PrestaShop supports multiple currencies, giving your customers the option to buy products with their national currency. PrestaShop cart is also multilingual and is currently available in 41 languages.


  • Expensive modules – Most modules required for a fully functional shopping cart website are highly priced. Though buying modules aren’t mandatory for setting up the store. Customers also face upgrading issues that reflect negatively on the software itself.
  • Minimum scalability – PrestaShop is suitable for small to medium sized businesses but doesn’t excel when it comes to a larger store, lacking a multi-store feature.
  • Poor design attributes: The default skin and product catalog need improvement: they are not as professionally designed as compared with other ecommerce solutions.


V. Opencart


  • Easy setup – Opencart is easier to setup and work with. New users would go through an easy learning curve, which means they could set up and start using OpenCart quite fast. This is because the interfaces offered by this solution are very straightforward and simple ones.
  • Good out of the box features – It offers users a good set of features, including a powerful catalog functionality and a good mechanism for order processing.
  • Good documentation for store administrator – OpenCart comes with some very good documentation, which guides users through all the initial setup and other functionality. Screenshots are also included to make the documentation more efficient.
  • Well-Designed Admin Interface – The administrative interface offers a very easy to use design, making the learning curve very short.
  • Price – There are a huge number of add-ons for OpenCart and many of them are free – you would be able to get a site up and running using different payment gateways for no costs.


  • Low performance – OpenCart does not promise a very high performance unless users opt for additional plugins such as for SEO.
  • Hard to maintain code and recent credibility issues – As stated earlier in this article, Opencart has been facing some credibility issues lately. Also, there have been complaints regarding dated coding practices and a perceived lack of code quality, making the platform harder to customize if you are looking for more than an out of the box solution.
  • Small community of developers – Although it offers a dedicated forum, the Opencart community is relatively small. If you run into a specific problem, it might be very hard to solve it.


In conclusion, each solution is ideal for you, depending on what you are planning to do.

If you plan to run a small shop, you should consider using Prestashop, WooCommerce or Opencart.

If you would like to customize your store through the administration panel with minimum knowledge of code, you can use Woocommerce or Prestashop.

If you want a free solution, you can go with Magento Community Edition, Woocommerce, Prestashop (if there is no other need for custom modules) or Opencart (if you do not want to add any new features).

If you want a powerful free solution with some knowledge of code for minimum customization, you should use Magento’s Community Edition.

If you want to build a large store with a lot of features, then you should use Magento Community or Enterprise Edition or Shopify.

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