Finding the best ecommerce software is a huge part of business in the digital age and it’s essential for most small businesses to the right platform for selling items or services online. There are a wide variety of programs available for business owners to use to break into e-commerce. To help you judge the best direction for your e-commerce we’re comparing three very different programs: Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce.
Best Ecommerce Software Comparison Table
|Price Range||Free Trial|
|Shopify||$9-$299 per month||14-day||Visit Shopify|
|Magento||Free but expenses may equal several thousand dollars a year||Program is free||Visit Magento|
|WooCommerce||Free but expenses will likely average $500 per year||Program is free||Visit WooCommerce|
Whу We Recommend Shopify as the Best ECommerce Software
Shopify is our favorite e-commerce solution for small businesses because it’s well rounded and accessible. Shopify is packed with features, yet doesn’t require any coding or tесh skills to gеt ѕtаrtеd, аnd thе ѕоftwаrе саn grоw аѕ your business grows. Shopify also оffеrѕ 24/7 customer support bу рhоnе, еmаіl аnd live chat, and you can try it for free!
Magento: Best ECommerce Software for Larger Operations
Magento is a strong e-commerce program with high customizability and extensive features. Though Magento is more powerful than Shopify in many ways, it’s also more difficult to use, especially for anyone with limited resources or minimal web-development experience. Magento’s base program is free, but you have to pay for hosting and maintenance, costs that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars a year. For these reasons we recommend Magento for medium to large operations rather than the smallest businesses.
WooCommerce: Build-It-Yourself ECommerce Software
WooCommerce is a little different than Shopify, since it’s a plugin for WordPress that allows you to turn your WordPress website into an online store. If you already have a WordPress website and you’re familiar with the program, then it will probably be a fast and easy route to having a respectable online store.
That being said, WooCommerce is harder to setup than Shopify, and there’s little available in the way of customer support. While WordPress and WooCommerce are both initially free, related costs can stack up, making WooCommerce a better choice for very small operations that only need a limited online store.
Pricing and Features
Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce have many of the same features but they also have unique qualities and differing costs associated with them.
Shopify’s ease of use is hard to beat. You can open an account within seconds and uploading and putting in product information is a breeze. You can customize the look and feel of your website with over a hundred different themes. Shopify backs up your data daily on their secure servers and all payment plans include speedy internet hosting.
Shopify offers several features you can take advantage of once you’ve built your website, allowing you to automate your sales process, market on social media, run sales and promotions, and manage customer data with customer resource management (CRM) features. Shopify’s search engine optimization (SEO) wizard makes it easier for customers to find your store and your products online. Detailed sales reports help you track your business and plan for the future.
Shopify comes fully stocked with an array of articles and videos to help you build your Shopify business. If you have any technical difficulties and want to speak to a live representative their customer support team is available through phone, email, and chat 24/7.
Shopify plans start at $29 per month, with no transaction fees or additional charges as long as you use Shopify’s payment gateway. There are multiple payment plans available with more advanced plans offering more user accounts and extra features like gift cards, more detailed reports, and third-party shipping rate calculation. There is also a $9 per month Lite plan that lets you use Shopify’s payment processor to sell through Facebook or other websites, which is a good option if you don’t need to build your own store.
Magento’s Community Edition is free to download. Setting up an e-commerce store with Magento can still be costly however since you’ll have to pay for web hosting, domain names, and payment processing after that. Some themes and add-ons are free but many cost money. Magento is complex to setup and anyone without expertise in web development and coding will likely want to hire outside help. These costs can amount to thousands of dollars.
A Magento e-commerce store is not as difficult to run as it is to set up, but the process of getting one started takes enough time, resources, and expertise that Magento is a better fit for medium or large scale operations than smaller businesses. Magento also offers an Enterprise Plan for those who want Magento to handle these details as well as provide them with around the clock support, but it’s pricey at $22,000 to $32,000 a year. Their fully cloud based plan is even more expensive than that.
Still, the cliche that you get what you pay for may ring true in Magento’s case. Magento’s inventory of features is rich and extensive. Magento helps you analyze your customer’s site activity to plan for the future, while scaling so it never crashes from supporting too many users. Magento calculates tax and provides your customers with all the information they need in a variety of languages to make your store accessible to anyone. In turn, you can use Magento to manage more than one store at once.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress website into an online store. As such, building a WooCommerce store should be a breeze for WordPress savvy business owners, but it may be more complicated for less savvy users (though still not nearly as difficult to handle as Magento).
WooCommerce users will have a variety of free or priced add-ons, integrations, and themes to chose from, making their store highly customizable, though between these and expenses like hosting costs can reach hundreds of dollars a year. WooCommerce may or may not be a more economical option than Shopify depending on how you customize your store.
Shopify provides stability and a support net that users may not find with WooCommerce (WooCommerce has no technical support beyond community forums). However, WooCommerce users have a much wider range of options at their disposal and the opportunity to more closely customize their store to fit their brand and intentions. Some small businesses owners will undoubtedly relish this extra freedom to make their e-commerce store their own.
Reviews: Customer Satisfaction
Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce have all received generally positive reviews online. Shopify has a low ranking on TrustPilot, but higher rankings on other sites that have a larger review sample size.
Shopify is praised for its ease of access, range of features, pricing, and customer support. Magento’s power, stability, and variety of features are acclaimed as is its open source nature. WooCommerce is lauded for its flexibility, with a wide range of plugins that can supplement it with any feature you need. WooCommerce’s free price is also widely praised.
Summary of Customer Reviews
Shopify had some negative reviews from people who didn’t adjust to its interface or enjoy the way it was set up. Shopify was criticized for requiring apps for some features, and some users reported negative experiences with Shopify’s customer service and payment plans. Others simply wished Shopify was more customizable. Shopify has also been criticized as U.S.-centric, and much less useful to small businesses running a store from outside the United States.
Negative Magento reviews generally found the software too complex and not user-friendly, echoing our suggestions that Magento is a better fit for bigger companies with resources and personnel to devote to developing your online store. WooCommerce’s biggest criticisms, on the other hand, had to do with the bare bones nature of the base product, the prices of the apps needed to extend your store’s capabilities, and difficulty integrating with other systems.
More E-Commerce Options
Those looking for the best e-commerce fit will find a lot more programs on the market than Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. BigCommerce, for example, has a lot in common with Shopify and has more features, but less templates and integrations.
Small business owners interested on building a website outside of an e-commerce platform should check out our Best Website Builders article for a more in-depth comparison between Shopify and website builders Rainmaker Platform and Wix.
Amazon is an e-commerce giant and we recommend small businesses collaborate with them by selling their wares on Amazon as well as their own e-commerce stores. Here’s a look at how to get started with Amazon and what to sell.
The Smart Hack
Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce are each excellent and very different e-commerce programs. Some small business owners will appreciate the levels of freedom and ownership Magento and WooCommerce afford, though they are more complex to set-up and run. Magento especially can be expensive to maintain and we recommend it for larger-scale operations while WooCommerce’s more barebones features may be a good fit for minimalist e-commerce stores.
Shopify’s highly accessible array of features and great customer service means you won’t have to worry about the hosting and maintenance Magento and WooCommerce websites require. Easy to use even if you’re not web development savvy, Shopify is still the best ecommerce software for small businesses. Start a 14-day free trial with Shopify now to see if it’s a good fit for your small business.