WooCommerce : The Preferred E-Commerce Platform for WordPress Sites

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Best Ecommerce Platforms for 2015 – WooCommerce

Google “ecommerce platforms,” and you’ll probably find a lot about WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and Bigcommerce. Dig a little deeper, and you might find a longstanding platform called Miva. Each of these platforms has its strengths and weaknesses. For some businesses, the weaknesses of any given platform may heavily outweigh that platform’s strengths. In this in-depth series, we’ll take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of 5 major ecommerce platforms. We’ll also look at what kind of business each platform is most suited for. Today, WooCommerce is in the hot seat.

WooCommerce: Great For Startups With Small Budgets

WooCommerce is an online shopping cart plugin for WordPress. As such, WooCommerce can only run on WordPress installations. WordPress is the web’s most popular blogging platform and content management system, and it’s only gotten better in the last few years. With the WooCommerce plugin installed, it’s a great option for anyone just starting out in online selling.

Choosing The Right Ecommerce Platform

The WooCommerce plugin itself is free, making it even more optimized for startups with low budgets. However, the free plugin lacks some extensions. Certain shipping options, payment gateways, extension of product fields, and other functions require add-ons. Some of these plugins are free, but most require a purchase. For more complex online stores, WooCommerce isn’t free at all, due to the number of plugins that must be licensed.

Because WooCommerce was developed by WooThemes, it allegedly runs best on one of their WordPress themes. Most of those aren’t free. Because the plugin is open-source, WooCommerce users do not have access to phone or social media support. However, users who purchase a WordPress template from WooThemes do have access to the company’s support forums.

For simple operations, and for entrepreneurs with simple requirements and zero budget, WooCommerce can’t be beat. However, for larger stores and established operations, WooCommerce can’t provide the full functionality and flexibility of Miva or Magento. Magento requires extensive 3rd party development to reach the level of functionality that larger ecommerce firms will require. Miva requires less development to get a new store to market, but it may still require some, depending on the new store’s business model. Though development costs more than plugins, larger stores see the value in having storefronts, checkout procedures, and product features optimized to their exact market needs. Because WooCommerce is WordPress-based, WooCommerce users depend on existing plugins to modify site functionality. In Miva and Magento, the possibilities are almost endless.

The Bottom Line:

WooCommerce is great for simple operations and low-budget startups. However, it doesn’t have the extensibility of larger and more expensive platforms like Miva and Magento. As such, it may not be suitable for low-budget startups with complex storefront needs. But for bloggers who already use WordPress and want to start a basic online store on the same domain as their blog, WooCommerce is perfect.

Choosing The Right Ecommerce Platform – Magento

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Magento occupies a unique place in the ecommerce software market. The platform is available in two major divisions. The Community Edition, or CE, is a free, open-source download with a vibrant user and developer community. It’s a robust framework, but it requires thorough knowledge of code to get it running (and keep it running).

Magento Enterprise is a subscription-based service aimed at high-volume online retailers. Enterprise prices start at around $18,000/year and may range up to $70,000/year. Note that a custom quote for the Enterprise version can only be obtained from the Magento Enterprise sales team.

Magento Maintenance: Sold Separately

This guy can't help you update your Magento installation. You'll have to do it yourself. Photo courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões. Modified by 216digital.

While Magento CE is free, maintaining a Magento CE store isn’t free. It will cost you, either in time (if you’re already a professional developer) or in money (if you’re not). Since the software is open-source and hosted on your server, Magento doesn’t help you with upgrading its software, fixing problems, or keeping your backend architecture in good shape. If you don’t have the time or expertise to do all this yourself, you’ll need to hire a developer, potentially on a recurring basis.

However, you get what you pay for. Businesses that can afford ongoing professional web development will find great value in Magento. The platform is powerful, scalable, and ready to integrate with countless 3rd parties.

How Big Is Big Enough For Magento?

That’s a great question. Some sources say Magento provides value for stores doing $500,000/year and above in gross sales. However, some developers who work with Magento don’t recommend it for stores doing under $1 million/year in online sales. Needless to say, Magento is not for the bedroom entrepreneur with a laptop and a dream. For startups on shoestring budgets, WooCommerce for WordPress may be a more reasonable solution—as long as WooCommerce’s fairly basic functionality is sufficient for the business model.

Support is part of the ongoing development cost associated with Magento. Magento itself does not offer phone or email support for its CE users. Magento forums are available, with a large community of users and developers posting regularly. However, as with any online forum, it’s “buyer beware” with regard to the quality of any given answer. In this regard, hiring an experienced development team is a great solution for firms that can afford it.

Because Magento is free and open-source, it doesn’t come with PCI compliance out of the box. You’ll need to work with a 3rd party solution to achieve PCI compliance. However, Magento’s $0 price tag comes with benefits, too. Unlike Shopify, Magento doesn’t charge transaction fees—though of course, you’ll still pay transaction fees with your 3rd party payment gateway. Lastly, as a free product, Magento CE offers another advantage over more “user-friendly” platforms: it has no inherent restrictions in bandwidth or number of products.

The Bottom Line

For larger firms with the development budget to get the custom store they need, Miva and Magento are the most powerful options. A Magento license is free, while Miva is an SaaS (software as a service) subscription. However, Miva may be cheaper in the long run, sincemore features come bundled into that subscription and won’t require custom development.

Why Magento Might Be the Next Shopping Cart You Use for Your Ecommerce Website

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Magento is the most popular shopping cart platform, with around a 26% market share. It’s also used by some of the biggest brands worldwide. But, popularity aside, there are three very strong reasons why you should consider Magento for use on your own ecommerce website.

1. A Flexible and Open Platform. When a piece of software is open source, that means anyone has access to the inner workings of the system. In the case of Magento, this means that there is a huge development community working behind the scenes, and they create all sorts of plug-in modules for it. This also means that help is everywhere and there are plenty of specialists that can modify Magento in nearly any way you need. You can even integrate it with other platforms like payment gateways, inventory and fulfillment platforms, and accounting software.
2. Purpose built. You could use another content management system (CMS) like WordPress. WordPress, after all, underpins nearly one-fifth of all websites served to browsers. But in order to run a store with WordPress, you need to add features with third-party plug-ins. Magento on the other hand comes pre-loaded with the features you need in a webstore. It can also be scaled to suit your needs. You can run a single store with thousands of SKU’s or you can even run multiple storefronts all from a single admin interface. I know that earlier I told you to disregard the popularity of the platform, but it should say something that everyone from small local webstores all the way to multi-national brands like Nike, Samsung, Lenovo, and Nestle find Magento perfect for their online commerce.
3. Optimized for High Performance. Magento is the fastest shopping cart platform available today. Small delays of just a few hundred milliseconds for each customer may seem like nothing, but multiplied over and over with thousands of customers, it can add up and bring a website to its knees. It’s also extremely SEO friendly and supports sitemaps, short URL’s, meta tags, and easily indexable product descriptions. Magento is also optimized for mobile shopping which makes up almost half of all online commerce. HTML5 capabilities and support for responsive design ensure that your site will be future proofed when Google starts to factor in mobile-friendliness in its search engine rankings.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what Magento can do for your ecommerce store, though. Give us a call or use the form on our contact page to get in touch. We’ll set-up a consultation and run through the all the capabilities and options built into the Magento shopping cart and see what would work best for you.

Demo: Affiliate Marketing 101 (Self Hosted Video)

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If you like the format of the video above, we have put together dozens of others for everyone who purchases X. Learn about all sorts of different topics like Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, SEO, Digital Products, and more.

For those looking for a more customized solution, you can upload your own self-hosted videos using the nifty Video Post Format right from within your dashboard. Each video will be fully responsive and look great on any device!

Simply create a post like you always would, select Video in the format box, then enter the destination of your video file (MP4, M4V, OGV) right below the main content area. In addition you can select the desired aspect ratio for optimum viewing.

Like above, you can optionally set a featured image that will show before the video is played.