- Nov 25, 2016
- by Brad Litwin
Choosing the right e-commerce platform is a complicated matter. You need to be certain that you end up with a platform that can handle your inventory, process transactions, and provide you with any advanced features that you need. If you make the wrong choice, you may find yourself facing unnecessary technical headaches and costly downtime.
Thankfully, there are plenty of top-notch e-commerce platforms available these days. That means you have the luxury of picking and choosing your favorite before jumping into anything.
To make your life easier, we’ve taken a look at three top e-commerce platforms: Magento, OpenCart, and PrestaShop. In this article, we’ll look at their features and ease-of-use, then tell you which one we think will fit your needs the best. Time is money, so let’s get started!
When people think Magento, their minds often jump to the word “enterprise”. However, while the platform is a professional e-commerce solution, it can also power stores of any size. Magento is feature-packed and includes a simple admin interface, built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) functions, and integrated inventory management.
Magento powers over 200,000 online stores, and comes in three editions: Enterprise, Cloud Enterprise, and Community. This final option is free and is the one you’ll want to opt for if you’re new to e-commerce.
Magento’s Key Features
- Open-source, with a healthy development community contributing to its ongoing development.
- Offers a library with hundreds of extensions and can also interface with third-party applications.
- Provides built-in SEO functions.
- Includes order management tools such as wish lists, rewards systems, and gift registries.
- Enables you to customize the checkout process.
- Offers excellent scalability.
Ease of Use
To be honest, Magento isn’t the simplest e-commerce platform out there. You don’t need to be a developer to use it, but you’ll need to spend some time sorting through its documentation if you want to take advantage of its advanced features.
Who Would Benefit From Using Magento?
We would recommend Magento to e-commerce users that are fully committed to seeing their stores grow. The platform scales very well, and with its advanced set of features, your site will be able to handle just about anything.
However, learning to use Magento and growing a store could take some time. You should anticipate spending quite a bit of time learning, or even plan to hire a Magento developer to take care of the advanced stuff for you.
OpenCart is an open-source e-commerce platform designed with ease-of-use in mind. Users can launch new stores quickly and customize its look thanks to a wide variety of free and premium themes. As is the case with most similar platforms, OpenCart also includes an extension system, which enables users to add advanced functions to their stores as needed.
The OpenCart admin dashboard is one of our favorites. It provides users with a comprehensive overview of their store’s sales and analytics at a glance, and it looks reasonably stylish.
OpenCart’s Key Features
- It’s an open-source platform under regular ongoing development – in other words, it isn’t going away anytime soon.
- Offers a comprehensive catalog of themes and extensions, with free and premium options.
- Automatically tracks your store’s most important metrics and displays them prominently in the admin interface.
- Accepts over 20 payment methods right out of the box.
- Provides management of multiple stores from a single dashboard.
- Enables you to differentiate your products according to their attributes (such as colors and sizes).
- Built-in affiliate and discount systems.
- Helps you manage backups right from your interface.
Ease of Use
Who Would Benefit From Using OpenCart?
OpenCart is an excellent choice for e-commerce users looking for a simple solution. It’s also ideal for those who need to manage multiple stores at once, since you can do so from a single dashboard.
We’re big fans of the way backups are built into the platform. If you struggle when it comes to performing regular backups, you might want to give this platform a shot.
PrestaShop shares rather a lot of similarities with the two other entries in this article. It’s an open-source e-commerce platform with an extensive collection of themes and modules, and it’s also backed by a vibrant community.
PrestaShop’s Key Features
- Open-source e-commerce platform.
- Hundreds of free and premium themes and modules available.
- The default theme is fully responsive.
- Offers a live editor, which enables you to customize the look of your store from the front end.
- Provides a network of certified partners that can provide help with any aspect of the platform.
Ease of Use
If you’ve ever used WordPress or any other similar Content Management System (CMS), PrestaShop’s interface should be easy to grasp. As is the case with OpenCart, the PrestaShop back end displays your analytics prominently, but in this case, the information is much more detailed.
The platform offers excellent documentation to help you learn the ropes. And if you choose to skip the documentation and dive right in, you should have no trouble learning the platform on your own if you have a bit of prior experience working with websites and CMSs.
Who Would Benefit From Using PrestaShop?
If you like OpenCart, PrestaShop should be right up your alley. The platform feels a bit more polished, and you get access to a lot more modules and themes than the former.
However, the real decision comes down to expense. A lot of PrestaShop’s modules and themes have a price tag, and they tend to be quite high. If you don’t mind spending some money to get your shop looking and behaving the way you want, consider this platform.
If ease of use and low cost are your primary considerations, OpenCart is a natural choice. It doesn’t offer the advanced features or scalability that Magento does, but it’s a lot easier to get up and running. PrestaShop, on the other hand feels more polished, but costs can ramp up quickly even for small stores.
Overall, each of these e-commerce platforms offers a unique set of features, and each one is perfect for certain users. Let’s take one final look at each:
- Magento: Provides the best scalability and many advanced features.
- OpenCart: Is the simplest platform to use, and it’s costs are relatively low.
- PrestaShop: A very polished platform, with a broad range of premium modules and themes available.
Image credit: StockSnap.io.