When creating a webshop, the question of which platform is the best soon arises. Now this question is somewhat complicated. It depends on your company. Is it a large company, a small company? Do you have a large budget or a small one? And does the platform require a lot of knowledge or could a starting entrepreneur arrange it himself?
Based on these questions, we have compared the largest e-commerce platforms, so that it is clear to you what CMS you should investigate further.
We are going to look at the most used and most popular e-commerce platforms among the busiest webshops of both average Dutch consumers and our customers:
Shopware is becoming increasingly popular in the Dutch market and is already becoming a serious competitor to Magento. The platform is known to be quite flexible and has built up a reasonable community in the meantime. This CMS is especially popular with medium to large webshops.
WooCommerce is a plug-in for WordPress Websites. With this plug-in, it becomes easier for you as a webshop owner to turn a WordPress website into a webshop. Because WooCommerce works via WordPress, you can make use of the very large WordPress community. WooCommerce is mainly popular with small to medium-sized webshops.
Shopify is the only closed source e-commerce solution in this list. You pay a monthly fee to keep the webshop running. This includes hosting and domain registration. Shopify is the second most used platform among the Dutch webshops next to WooCommerce and is mainly popular with starting entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized webshops.
Magento is an open-source platform and has a community of 100,000 members built up over the years. Because of this community, there is always a right solution to a problem. Magento is known for its scalability and endless possibilities through the many plug-ins. It is especially popular and widely used among large webshops.
We have compared all these platforms for you and tested them on a number of important components. We have divided these components into several categories: Price, Flexibility, User-friendliness, Personalisation, Webshop size and Support.
This comparison gives an overview of the scores of the different platforms per category.
To keep the comparison as fair as possible, we have not attached an average score to the final results. The platforms are all suitable, but for different purposes. Therefore, further on in this article you can read which components we have included per category and why one platform scores better than another in some areas.
In this category, we have taken a number of factors into account: Price per month, price for constructing the site and price for maintenance.
Price per month
In these comparisons, only one platform has a monthly subscription fee: Shopify. In return, hosting and domain name registration are already taken care of.
Price for development
With the other platforms you do not pay monthly: these are open-source programs. With Magento, Shopware and WordPress, the rule is: the more knowledge you need, the more expensive the program is to build and maintain. This is the reason why shopify is very attractive for starting entrepreneurs, especially in terms of price: it is cheap and easy to set up.
WooCommerce comes in second. Most companies already have knowledge of WordPress. Setting up a webshop with the WooCommerce plugin is therefore easier and again cheaper.
ShopWare comes in third. This program is more complicated to set up a webshop with than WooCommerce. This is due to the fact that this program is still quite unknown. The development is often outsourced because not all the knowledge is available within the company.
Magento comes in last place and this has everything to do with the complexity of the program. Magento is a heavy program, made for heavy web shops and is therefore more complicated to make. The construction of this program is therefore often outsourced and is therefore – on average – more expensive.
Because of the fact that the construction of Magento and ShopWare is often outsourced, the maintenance is often outsourced as well. This is obviously not free, but it does relieve your company of concerns about the technology. In addition, you still have to arrange the hosting and domain name registration as a web shop owner. This also applies to WooCommerce.
Because WooCommerce is a plug-in of the existing website on WordPress, the costs of maintenance are often equal to the costs already spent on the website. Perhaps the cost of good hosting will go up a little, but this is generally not a big difference.
Shopify is number two in this respect. This has to do with the fact that subscription fees for maintenance are included in the price. Shopify also asks for a percentage of the income from your shop that runs with them if you do not use the standard payment options. This makes options like PayPal or AfterPay more expensive for you as a shop owner. And the better your shop sells, the more you will have to pay. In addition, there are multiple packages possible with Shopify. If you want to make full use of all the functions, it will also cost you a lot more.
With flexibility, there are a number of things that are important to consider when making a comparison. Flexibility is a broad concept. When we talk about flexibility in this case, we are talking about the following things: Scalability, migration options and whether a site is self-owned.
Magento scores the highest when it comes to scalability. This is where Magento is known for. It is easy to link several webshops together, but it is also possible to let the webshop grow along with the size of your company. Another platform that has made a name for itself in this area lately is Shopware, which is therefore number two in the list.
At number three is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is not the most flexible when it comes to scalability. Because it is a WordPress plugin, it is difficult to easily link multiple sites and often causes a lot of work. To extend WooCommerce for large shops, new plugins are often needed and plugins are placed within other plugins. This makes the whole thing a lot less clear and therefore less flexible.
Shopify comes in at number four in this respect. Because it is a closed-source program, you have no overview of the software and therefore less insight into what is possible. Therefore, you will always have to communicate with Shopify if something changes in scale with your shop. Which is disadvantageous considering the fact that the Dutch Shopify services generally do not have a great name. There are also extra costs involved if you want to connect multiple sites to your existing shop.
When we talk about migration, we are talking about: how easy is it to switch your existing shop to a new platform. Here, too, we look at the degree of difficulty of the webshop. The expectation would therefore be that we would go down the well-known list of category 1: price.
Yet there is more to it. WooCommerce is on top of the list because this is one of the easiest and most well-known programs. It can be transferred fairly easily to a new platform. Of course, the right knowledge is required for this.
ShopWare and Magento are in second and third place and this is due to the difficulty of the program and therefore the difficulty of switching. Yet Shopify is in last place, why? This is because it’s very difficult to switch platforms if your shop is running on Shopify. This has to do with the following point.
Webshop owners with a shop at Shopify are technically not the administrators of their own shop. Shopify is managing the shop. It is therefore not easy to pack up and move your “own” shop. This is a reason to think about the choice in advance. The data of your shop is yours, so you can take it with you to a new platform. If you change your mind later on, you will probably have to rebuild the site (or have it rebuilt) because technically, you are not in charge of the shop yourself.
This does not apply to the other platforms. You are always the owner and can therefore always choose to switch: to migrate. Of course, the easier the platform, the more you can change it yourself, the more you are in control.
In the category usability we mainly looked at how easy a site is to adjust, can you do this yourself and how quickly does it work.
Shopify scores the best here. In this software you can adjust the look of your webshop entirely by yourself and add content, even without knowledge of webdesign. The possibilities are limited, but it can be done easily and very quickly.
ShopWare is more complicated in terms of software, but still reasonably adaptable. ShopWare uses a drag-and-drop system, which makes it easy to change the look of the webshop. For the technical adjustments, more knowledge is needed, but this is relatively easy.
In third place is WooCommerce. Although WordPress itself is fairly easy to use, it also has disadvantages because WooCommerce works as a plugin. To expand and adapt a shop, you will have to download other plugins, which makes it more complicated and more challenging to customise a site. It can be done, but it is a bit tedious, especially for large webshops.
Magento is in last place here. Although there are a lot of possibilities, adjustments on this platform are generally a bit more difficult. The program is very complex and therefore not user-friendly for those without technical knowledge. It is therefore always necessary to recruit staff who understand Magento or to hire a specialised party.
We just talked about user-friendliness. But to what extent is a site actually expandable: how many options are possible and how reliable are those options. But also, how clear and well does the site work with different plug-ins.
Number one in terms of plug-ins is Magento. Because of the large and technical community, many plug-ins are made. Because of the complexity of the program, these are also tested very regularly and are therefore very reliable. The amount of plug-ins for Magento makes sure that a webshop can be personalised very well.
ShopWare is number two here. ShopWare is well on its way in the e-commerce world and is already starting to build a nice community. There are many options, but the amount of options is still behind Magento and WooCommerce. Nevertheless, the plugins that are available are well tested and very reliable.
WooCommerce is at a slight disadvantage at number three. Although WooCommerce has more plugins than even Magento, the reliability is lower. The platform is generally easier. Therefore, it is also more difficult to recognise whether a plugin is worth it or not due to the enormous supply. It is also necessary to install several plugins in order to customise a WooCommerce site. This can make the back-end chaotic and confusing. Where one plugin can help your site a lot, another one can cause unexpected damage. That is why it is important to always check if the plugins work in a test environment and to organise and maintain the site as simply as possible.
Shopify is at the bottom of the list as far as plugins are concerned. Shopify does have very reliable plugins to expand a shop, but these are often available late and certainly not all. This has to do with the fact that it is a closed-source program and all plugins have to be tested extensively by Shopify itself.
When we look at webdesign, we look at the possibilities there are to adjust a site in terms of appearance and user experience.
ShopWare is at the top of this list. Although ShopWare lags behind in terms of plugins, the platform has been optimised for webshops. This is in contrast to WordPress, which still has its basis in classic websites. ShopWare has also been optimised for storytelling; it is possible to create a lot of content quickly.
This is also the case with the number two on this list: WooCommerce. Because WooCommerce is based on WordPress, the focus for this site is also on content creation. Also, in terms of web design, there are many options and many themes to choose from that are easy to implement and quick to customise.
Magento comes in third. Partly because of the many plug-ins but also because of the possibility to adjust all the small details, Magento is very good to personalise. The options are endless. Magento also generally has fewer updates than WordPress, for example, which makes adjustments less of a necessity. Yet there’s a reason why Magento is in third place. This is mainly because Magento – compared to the numbers one and two – is a lot less focused on storytelling. The program is not so well suited for posting content. It can be done with a few detours, but it’s not integrated by default.
The last one in the list is Shopify. Although Shopify is very user-friendly, the options in, for example, themes and plug-ins are limited. The plugins that are available are not customizable and the choice is also limited here. What is an advantage of Shopify, is that it is better set up for placing content than Magento. This is advantageous for starting webshops that mainly want to build a brand through storytelling.
When we talk about shop size, we think about the quantity of products, the number of countries in which a webshop sells products, but also the complexity of products that a webshop sells.
In general, Magento is by far the best in this test. On this platform, it is very well possible to run a webshop in multiple languages in multiple countries without getting different back-ends of the webshop. As a webshop owner, you can also use Magento if you have an extensive assortment with different products in different categories with different aspects. Complex products such as customisation are also very well possible on this platform.
The second in this list is ShopWare. Shopware also makes it possible to offer a shop in multiple countries and languages. It is also possible to build up an extensive assortment with ShopWare. ShopWare is not as good when it comes to more complex products, but this is not far off from its competitor Magento.
Then on number three is Shopify. On Shopify you can place quite a few products, but not as many as on ShopWare. It is also a necessity to communicate with Shopify before implementing more complex products. This is because you can never be sure in advance how easy a complex product can be added to a Shopify webshop. Another disadvantage of Shopify is that it is not possible to offer a shop in multiple languages and in multiple countries. Shopify does offer the possibility to offer translations of web pages, but a fully translated shop is less easy. To do this with Shopify you will have to switch to a more expensive subscription.
Then there is WooCommerce in last place. Compared to its competitors, WooCommerce does not seem very suitable for maintaining a large shop with many products. This is mainly because the WordPress platform itself is not made on an e-commerce basis. There are plugins to make it easier and possible for a webshop to offer several more complex products on WooCommerce, but this is not the easiest thing to do. It is also not possible in WooCommerce to offer a webshop in multiple languages. Translating a site by yourself is possible, but offering products in multiple languages turns out to be a special skill.
When we think of support, we think of how easy it is to get help from the platform itself, how big the community is and how reliable it is.
Number one on this list is Magento. Magento has several community pages where it is very easy and quick to solve problems. Also, if someone gives incorrect information on these platforms, action is generally taken quickly. The community is very reliable.
Number two in this list is ShopWare. ShopWare’s community is growing fast, and advice is given quickly when someone encounters problems. The community is generally considered to be very reliable. Also, the support team of ShopWare is fairly quick in offering help.
WooCommerce comes in at number three. Although the WordPress community is the largest of all the platforms on this list, there is considerable speculation as to whether the support from this community is entirely reliable. The support from WordPress itself is also slower than the support from ShopWare and Magento, for example.
The last one in this list is Shopify. In general, especially in the Netherlands, less positive things are said about Shopify’s support team. This is probably due to the fact that the platform is originally Canadian and therefore the support is not yet focused on the Netherlands. This is especially disadvantageous considering the fact that as a Shopify webshop owner you often really need help with complex issues from Shopify itself.
In short, there is no telling whether one platform is better than another. However, based on a number of data, we can establish a number of things you can look out for when choosing a platform.
- If you have a small budget and a small shop, or if you are a starting entrepreneur, then Shopify or WooCommerce are interesting to investigate further. These shops are the easiest to maintain and set up and therefore the cheapest. Keep in mind that with Shopify you can’t easily switch over your shop. Also keep in mind that WooCommerce is less suitable for many and complex products.
- If you have a reasonable budget and a small shop, investigate ShopWare or WooCommerce. If you have some technical knowledge or want to outsource your shop, ShopWare is very interesting. Do you have less knowledge and already have a website on WordPress that you don’t want to outsource? Maybe WooCommerce is interesting for you.
- If you have a reasonable budget and a medium-sized webshop and you want to be able to grow, then you should look at ShopWare or Magento. For Magento you might need more knowledge, but this program is very suitable to grow with your company. Also, this program is very well known, so it is not difficult to find a company or team to help you.
- Has your webshop become medium-sized or large and has your budget increased? Or do you have complex and/or many products in your range? Then Magento is the most interesting platform to investigate. Perhaps you are currently using another platform and you are ready to make the switch. Magento is extremely suitable to grow along with a company. This program can also handle many products and also complex products.
Want more information on platforms like Magento? Take a look at our blog page for much more information.