When you’re starting as a business, it can be tricky to find an eCommerce platform that provides you with the required infrastructure and facilities, at a relatively low cost. It’s important to explore your options beyond the more obvious, so you can deliver the service that is right for both your business and, more importantly, your budget.
Being one of the leading service providers, Magento is a highly popular option among most eCommerce enterprises. Due to its customizable nature, hassle-free scalability, and code-level access, it is the preferred choice for most medium to large scale businesses. However, it’s not the perfect choice for everyone.
So, why not Magento?
While Magento boasts of best-in-class features, you should consider it only if you are prepared to shell out big bucks for their service. The reality is that it is not a universal solution for every business. For a new user who is venturing into the eCommerce space for the first time, and lacks the requisite coding and web development expertise, it can prove to be quite a troublesome experience. Its open-source nature calls for heavy-duty technical expertise and appropriate knowledge of the software.
With a demand for a separate hosting server, costly maintenance, and time-intensive development, Magento is best suited for well-established businesses. Hence, if you’re new to the sphere, it may be a better choice to opt for a Magento alternative to begin with.
What are the alternative options available for you?
Here is a selection of our 5 top picks of Magento alternatives that can work wonders for you, depending on your specific needs.
If you are more comfortable having code-level access to your web store, here are three open-source alternatives to Magento:
- WooCommerce – the WordPress plug-in
If you are a WordPress user looking to expand your business into E-Commerce, WooCommerce is a plug-in built especially for this purpose. Although it is an open-source platform, it’s the most convenient way for a first-time retailer to get their business up and running. With numerous ready-to-use templates and customizable extensions (some of which are free), you can get all the basics you’d require without a problem. Having the technical expertise would be ideal, so you can get maximum functionality out of the features they offer.
However, one downside is that it can only work with WordPress. Additionally, payment processing is done through third-party plugins. As with all other platforms, developmental costs increase as your business grows, and hiring a web developer might become a necessity, and their customer support is available at a cost.
Best suited for a WordPress user who is just starting an online retail business
Just like Magento, the PrestaShop platform offers users two versions – a cloud-deployed option or downloadable software. Available in over 60 languages, it is commonly used in non-English speaking countries. Being open-source, it has a significant international community, and getting answers to queries and solving programming issues is not a major worry. With thousands of customizable extensions, it’s a functionality-packed alternative to Magento. Best of all? It’s free to start with.However, PrestaShop lacks an in-house customer support team. As previously mentioned, due to the size of the community, troubleshooting solutions would be readily available, but for those who prefer outsourcing support – this platform is not the right option. There is also a lack of scalability, and if you project major growth in your business, you will face significant limitations on the feature front.
Best suited for small to mid-range businesses
SaaS/Hosted platform alternatives:
In the field of SaaS platforms, BigCommerce and Shopify take the lead.
BigCommerce is one of the largest hosted eCommerce platforms available. Being a hosted service, the technical aspect of setting up your web store is taken completely out of your hands. It comes with a 15-day free trial and has an array of reasonably priced plans. The platform supports nearly all payment gateways, and more importantly, provides you with 24×7 support.The downside to BigCommerce is the lack of variety in design templates and features. Premium services that come attached with a hefty price tag could be unaffordable for starter businesses and still lack adequate customization.
Best suited for mid-sized businesses
Another major runner in the hosted eCommerce platform sphere is Shopify. As one of the most well-known SaaS platforms, it is an easy-to-use service, with a quick learning curve. Its most attractive features include convenience, hassle-free setup, and quick store development. It also comes with 24×7 customer support, and users need no IT experience to make use of this platform. Another upside to this platform is multi-channel integration. Integrating your store with third-party sites like Amazon, Facebook, etc. is just a click away.
However, when looking at Magento open-source alternatives, the features available on Shopify are limited in comparison. Additionally, while the base fee may be reasonable, the plug-ins and extensions tend to get very costly, very quickly.
Best suited for those looking for less technical web store development processes
Another major contender in the space of hosted platforms is Volusion. The major upside to this platform is its user-friendliness, the lack of a transaction fee, and its inbuilt marketing tools. They provide 24×7 customer support, and their onboarding is fairly seamless. They boast of an intuitive dashboard, that can prove to be quite useful during setup.
However, as the traffic and popularity of your website increase, so do Volusion’s charges. Additionally, they are among the few platforms that do not provide an SSL certification. You will have to purchase one over and above the plan prices. Like Shopify, their add-on fees can get quite high.
Best suited for those with a limited range of products, needing additional assistance
As you can tell, each platform, whether open-source or SaaS, has its pros and cons. There is no ‘perfect’ platform out there, but your goal should be to find the right platform for you and your business. It is your prerogative to decide which features and functionalities offered by these platforms, you find essential, and which you can give a miss. Depending on those decisions, you can narrow down your search. We aim to ensure that your search for an E-commerce platform does not only begin and end with Magento. It is advisable that you explore other options and alternatives out there, so you can arrive at an informed decision.