How to select the right eCommerce platform: Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce?



$4.5 trillion – that’s the prediction for eCommerce sales by 2021.


If you’re not already on the train, it’s time to buy a ticket. You may already know this, but it’s not always as obvious where to begin the journey.


Whether you’re looking for a new eCommerce platform for an existing business or you woke up this morning with a bright idea, making an informed decision about which option to choose will prevent headaches down the line.


It is possible to migrate from one platform to the next, but it comes with challenges that can make the process not only cumbersome, but result in slowed revenue growth. Start out right by aligning your platform with the needs of your business.


I’m going to take you through the triumphs and tribulations of three of the biggest players on the market at the moment – Shopify,Magento,and WooCommerce. By the end of this, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which option best suits your needs.




In brief:

Easy-to-use. SEO-friendly. Includes mobile features. Popular, and becoming even more so.



Writing for Entrepreneur magazine, Eric Samson recognises a shifting tide in the eCommerce arena, characterised by a move in favour of Shopify. What is it that has caused this popular platform to gain such ground? Most importantly, its ease of use.


Shopify has truly democratised the playing field when it comes to eCommerce. You do not need to have advanced technical knowledge – or spend a fortune hiring someone who does. In an afternoon, your shop can be up-and-running with the same knowhow it takes to set up a social media account.


Here are just some of the reasons entrepreneurs are flocking to Shopify:

  • Pricing: It’s very affordable for the basic platform, and the value goes beyond that. Your Shopify store will be hosted, meaning that the costs to set up and maintain your site are almost negligible in comparison to self-hosted options.
  • SEO: Based on this comprehensive analysis of the top eCommerce platforms and how they measure up when it comes to SEO, Shopify came out on top with a score of 98.
  • Plugins and Integrations:The library of available add-ons to Shopify stores is vast and continuing to grow. Everything from payment processors to marketing tools to design features that allow you to construct professional logos for your eCommerce store, Shopify has become somewhat of a one-stop shop. In fact, you can set up a whole new revenue stream with one of their plugins. Ever heard of print-on-demand? Shopify’s print-on-demand integrations, like ly, allow you to start a POD enterprise from scratch with no prior experience.
  • Customer service: In a nutshell, it’s available and it works. You do not have to rely on forums or battle through your issues alone. This means you can truly be a one-person band. Your autonomy is prized over all.



  • Pricing: Didn’t I just say this was a pro? It is, but it’s good to be informed of all the ins-and-outs of the model. While their pricing is reasonable and the platform allows you to skimp on developer costs, it’s important to know that costs may be lurking beneath the surface. These are particularly prevalent in the form of add-ons and transaction fees. It’s not prohibitive, but make sure that you budget accurately at the outset.
  • Customisation: This is only a con if you consider it within the context of the competition. As a hosted site that allows you to create your store from existing templates, complete customisation is not available to the same degree as it would be with, say, Magento. There are ways to get around this, but this does require coding knowledge and a bit of hacking knowhow. Having said that, the Shopify templates are impressive and the selection vast, so it’s likely that you won’t feel pigeonholed when it comes to creating your dream store.



The ideal customer

Shopify is compatible with just about anyone looking to generate revenue online. Whether you are an individual, SMB already in existence, an artist looking to sell your wares, or a brick and mortar store wanting to launch in the digital sphere, Shopify is a reliable, user-friendly option that will have you up and running in a flash.




In brief

Robust, fully customisable platform popular with large scale enterprises.



Magento has been at the forefront of the eCommerce world as a top selection. While popularity has dipped slightly as other platforms have risen in the market, Magento is still very much a front runner. Here’s why.


  • Fully customisable: Magento allows you to create a self-hosted site. This means you take care of the domain, the site creation, and maintenance. If you want full independence when it comes to creating your eCommerce store, this is where you’ll find it. It’s as flexible as you want it to be.
  • Mobile friendly: Magento understands the need to focus on mobile in the contemporary landscape and has responded accordingly, allowing you or your developer to create a mobile-friendly site with ease. Regardless of what platform you choose, mobile optimisation is increasingly becoming a must if you want to align yourself with buyer trends. In truth, all platforms are responding to this need.
  • It’s fancy: On top of having features that other platforms lack, Magento is easy to scale, meaning your site can grow with your business.



  • Difficulty of use:Be warned – the learning curve is steep. If you are not a developer, do not try this at home. It will win. Added to this, customer support is non-existent and only available through third parties that will charge you an arm and a leg for their expertise.
  • Pricing: While the community version is free, the enterprise level which you will need to run a successful eCommerce store is exorbitant, ranging upwards of $15 000.
  • Hosting: As I have mentioned, you will likely have to do the hosting yourself. That means set-up fees and ongoing maintenance.


The ideal customer

Large-scale enterprises that have the resources to take advantage of the capabilities of the platform. While Magento is powerful, I would steer clear unless you have capacity to cope with a complex and technical infrastructure. If you can, it’s a great option.




In brief

The WordPress eCommerce integration.



  • Pricing: It’s free. How nice! It’s an open-source platform, meaning that costs will be kept to a minimum.
  • Library of add-ons and extensions: WooCommerce offers a range of add-ons. They are affordable and help make the site more customisable for the owner and user.
  • Perfect for the WordPress lover: If you already have a WordPress site that you want to monetise, this is a good option. You will simply be adding on the commercial component to your already existing project.



  • Scalability: If you see your store growing much bigger than where you initially start out, WooCommerce maynot be the best option for you. Getting too big too quickly can slow things down and prevent optimal performance. This can be prepared for, however.
  • Hosting: If you don’t already have a registered domain, you will need to get one. This require some start-up fees and means that down the line, you will need to take care of the maintenance yourself.


The ideal customer

If you already use and love WordPress, WooCommerce might be the next logical step for you.



In summary…

The heat is on for market share in the world of eCommerce platforms. As things currently stand, your choice of platform will depend on the needs of your business.


Shopify is popular for a reason: it has amazing usability, appealing to the lone entrepreneur and the established business alike. The barriers to entry are small, and it is one of the most modern and seamless services on the market.


That said, WooCommerce and Magento still have plenty to say. For the more customisable and complex eCommerce stores, Magento fits the bill. For established WordPress websites, WooCommerce is a simple addition with a lot of potential to build revenue.


Good luck!




Charlie Carpenter is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience.

After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and personalised photo print goods. As well as an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience of various types of digital projects which include: Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, Cross Platform App development.You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.



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