Choice of ecommerce platforms

Magento no-go: What are your options when choosing an alternative ecommerce platform?

eBay broke the news earlier this year that they will be shutting down their small business ecommerce platforms, Magento Go and Pro Stores. This decision allows them to focus on Magento Enterprise and Community editions for enterprise level users.

If you’ve invested time and energy building your online store then you’ll want to reserve some time to consider your options for a new ecommerce provider. The February 2015 deadline at least allows etailers to cash in on the holiday shopping period, but there is still time if you’d prefer to get moving before. Either way, you need to start thinking about your options.

eBay themselves recommend moving to Bigcommerce but it’s not your only option, we’ve taken a look at some of the alternatives available out there and compared important features to save you some of the leg work.

Key considerations

Hosting
A cloud-based ecommerce solution, Magento Go is hosted by Magento so you didn’t need to worry about sourcing web hosting. Finding hosting isn’t too difficult but if you don’t need the extra hassle then opting for a hosted solution might be preferable.

Support
If you’re still exploring the world of online retail and need someone on hand to answer your queries then the support offered with your new ecommerce platform will be an important factor for you. Whilst some people are happy to Google the answers to their questions and discuss issues with fellow users on forums, others need a friendly voice on the end of the phone.

eCommerce platforms compared
Bigcommerce Magento community Magento enterprise Shopify Zencart WooCommerce Prestashop
Who are they? Started in 2010, around 300 employees with offices in Sydney, Austin and San Francisco. An eBay company based in California, around 200 dedicated employees. An eBay company based in California, around 200 dedicated employees. Launched in 2006, 501 employees, based in Canada. Zen Cart branched from osCommerce as a separate project in 2003. Launched in 2011, 30 employees working remotely in a number of different countries. 70 developers, designers, and professional staff, HQ in Paris and Miami.
Pricing From $34.95/month FREE From $15,550/year From $29/month FREE FREE FREE
Contract length Month or annual – you choose n/a Annual Month or annual – you choose n/a n/a n/a
Hosted? Yes, included in price No, you will need to arrange hosting No, you will need to arrange hosting Yes, included in price No, you will need to arrange hosting No, host with your WordPress site No but 'PrestaBox' provides a one-stop solution
Support Yes, phone, email & chat No, community-based support Yes, SLA-backed support Yes, 24/7 No, community-based support via forum Online forum & guides Support available from $399/ Year
eBay listing integration? Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes – using an extension Export products to eBay – using a free module
Plug-ins / add-ons? Yes – apps Yes – extensions from Magento Connect Yes – extensions from Magento Connect Yes – Shopify App Store Yes – Plugins and Addons for Zen Cart contributed by the community Yes – plugins Yes – 3,500+ Modules and Themes
Customer reviews? Yes, built-in Yes Yes Yes Yes, free add-on Yes Yes
Postcode Anywhere integration for address lookup? No app currently Yes – extension in Magento Connect Yes – extension in Magento Connect No app currently Yes – plugin available Yes – address validation extension No module currently
Responsive for mobile? Yes but depends which theme you choose Yes – you're in control of the theme/code Yes but depends which theme you choose Yes Yes but depends which theme you choose Yes but depends which theme you choose Yes but depends which theme you choose
Migrating from Magento Go Import from a standard CSV file, Bigcommerce will transition Magento clients to its e-commerce platform for free. Tools available in the Migration center. Tools available in the Migration center. Magento to Shopify importer app to copy over products. Third party services available such as: cart2cart. Third party services available such as: cart2cart. Third party services available such as: cart2cart.
Popularity Over 50,000 stores Around 200,000 stores Almost 10,000 stores Over 100,000 active stores Around 150,000 stores Over 250,000 stores Over 185,000 stores
Comments Suggested by eBay as the place to move to, migration offers for Magento Go & ProStores clients. Perfect if you're a developer or tech-savvy merchant as you can modify the core code. Magento for fast-growing and large businesses. Also Shopify POS (an iPad point of sale system, to sell your products in your retail location). Zen Cart branched from osCommerce as a separate project in 2003. From WordPress – for small to medium-sized online merchants using WordPress. Lots of features and options available out of the box, easy to use.

Recommendations

  •  When you’ve narrowed down the options, it’s a good idea to visit some example websites that are built using that platform – these can normally be found on the ‘examples’ or ‘case studies’ sections of platform vendors’ websites. Try searching for products and adding them to your basket. Take a good look around, how many images do products have, how does it look on a tablet or smartphone and what does the checkout process feel like? This will give you a good idea of how your online shop might feel too.
  • Talk to some users. LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter are useful tools for connecting with other small business people. Find a group or hashtag relating to the ecommerce platform and ask some questions – How easy is it to use and maintain your website? Was setup stress free? What is the support like? There will of course be good and bad reviews for every option but it will help to give you an overview of usability and reputation.
  • Check your chosen ecommerce platform has the key features of successful ecommerce sites: quality product images (with options for zooming in or seeing different views), effective navigation (links to new or related products and logical categorisation), a quality search option (can it find misspelt or similar words?), speedy checkout (shorter forms and the option to use address lookup could both optimise your conversion rates), product ratings/reviews from previous customers and a design that works equally well for shoppers using mobile devices.
  • Take advantage of a free trial – you won’t want to spend hours adding products and configuring a trial site but if a free demo is available you might like to login and take a look around the user interface.

For more information about the Magento closure, merchants can log into their Migration Center.

Moving your store from Magento Go? Tell us which platform you’ve chosen…

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  • Good points Sarah, the chart is a nice breakdown of what store owners should consider before migrating over to a new platform. I didn’t see any mention of how each platform will work with marketplaces like eBay though.

    Take a look at SureDone, it’s a multichannel platform for eBay, Amazon and Etsy, that also includes a fully customizable eCommerce storefront. It’s a great alternative for powersellers on eBay, and eCommerce stores who want to move into Amazon as well.

  • Thanks Yelena, we couldn’t compare every platform so thank you for suggesting SureDone – I’m sure it will be useful to other readers. You’re right, multi-channel connectors are really important, especially for the smaller retailers that are using Magento Go.

  • Very good article – and clearly very necessary for many small businesses to review their options.

    You really should include the option of moving to more bespoke development too whether its SureDone, our Shopit platform or any other. We believe that whilst Magento etc offer good ‘out of the box’ features; its time consuming to self-build, you can only add features that are made available and not necessarily what you WANT or need for your business. The support is also compromised by capability.

    Small businesses become ruled by the platform, and their growth is compromised. Business owners should be running their business, not (always) trying to code or rejig their site.

  • Hi, Sarah! Thanks for compiling this extremely handy guide of recommendations for those seeking alternative eComm platforms.

    Another solution is our Pixafy Instant, the leading SaaS option that enables merchants to launch and manage a Magento store without designers or developers, starting at $50/mo. It is the top Magento-recommended migration solution for displaced Magento Go and ProStores users.

    We’re currently offering free trials and free migrations at http://www.bit.ly/pixafyinstant — we’d be thrilled to hear and incorporate your feedback as we continue evolving our platform!

  • Great review! We did something similar, but compared platforms from SEO point of view. In short, the winners are Magento and BigCommerce. Magento has plugins virtually for any SEO-related issues, while BigCommerce’s basic version takes into account all common SEO issues and doesn’t require much improvement.

  • An excellent, impartial review of the situation regarding Magento Go and the options, post closure. We, at buildmeashop.com, have developed a complete, end-to-end, hosted, Magento solution for merchants wanting to stick with the platform. Give us a call on 01420 446523 for a free trial!

  • Really good review, however I’ve noticed the absence of Drupal. Drupal is coming along in leaps and bounds with ecomm, it’s a really solid codebase with a great community. Magento is still head and shoulders above the rest for an enterprise grade platform, but I see Drupal starting to eat into the market share over the coming years.

  • Very good article

  • gowebbaby

    I have been using Magento for long time and I never found any problem so far. I highly recommend Magento to other who are looking for online store. If you want to know why Magento is the best ecommerce platform for online business, see here https://goo.gl/dm76NG