We’ve had a lot of happy Magento customers come through our doors. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the right platform for everyone. Maybe you don’t like that it’s open source. Maybe you don’t like that you have to figure out hosting yourself. Maybe you just don’t like it.
If you’re looking for a Magento alternative, you’ve come to the right place. This post will dive into how to evaluate what Magento alternative is right for you and your business.
What To Consider
If you’re looking to switch from Magento, there are a few things you should consider. Which ones matter most to you will depend on your business and your specific reasons for not using Magento:
- Do you want an open source platform? They are more customizable, but some see open source as a security and/or reliability problem.
- How much are you looking to spend? Even open source platforms carry costs for infrastructure and implementation.
- What features do you need? Are you just looking for basic shopping cart functionality or additional/advanced features?
- How technically savvy are you? Or, do you have a developer who can help you with your implementation and maintenance?
- Do you want a SaaS or self-hosted platform? Some people prefer to manage or find their own infrastructure. Others like to sign up and go.
- What technologies will you need to integrate? Different platforms have different capabilities for integration. Don’t box out your webstore by picking one that can’t integrate into your technology platform.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but these are the kinds of questions you should be asking when you evaluate any Magento alternative. I would also sped time pressing other vendors on the exact reasons you are leaving Magento.
Picking a Magento Alternative
To be blunt, there are a lot of alternatives to Magento out there. You could do research for weeks on this topic. My goal with this blog post is to narrow it down to the few that you should take a serious look at.
Here they are…
Didn’t I just tell you that I want something other than Magento?
Bear with me. There’s a good chance that you are using Magento Community (CE) edition (the free version). If that’s the case, it would be wise to evaluate if the problem is just that you need a more feature-rich edition of Magento.
Magento Enterprise (EE) takes the platform to a more business-friendly level. It sets itself apart from Magento CE in many ways, including:
- Magento EE handles large product catalogs better. It also includes caching and indexing features that can bring huge performance improvements for big sites (compared to CE).
- Since Magento EE is hosted, you can take advantage of features like backups and content rollbacks.
- It includes customer segmentation and pricing features for businesses with advanced requirements.
- Magento EE also includes enterprise support, something that doesn’t come with the open source version.
These are just some of the big differences, but there are many more. Many of them are very technical. Customer Paradigm posted this really comprehensive article on the differences between Magento CE and Magento EE…and I mean really comprehensive.
Magento Enterprise Edition adds a whole bunch of features compared to Community Edition, but you’ve got to be willing to pay for it. You’ll have to contact Magento sales for exact pricing, but as of the time of this writing, Magento EE has hovered around the $15,000/year price range. It’s a significant jump from the open source Community Edition.
If you absolutely don’t want Magento, nothing in the Enterprise Edition is going to change your mind. After all, at the core, CE and EE are the same platform. But, it’s worth evaluating the option if you’ve got the budget.
Hosted Magento Alternatives
If you’re looking for a hosted solution–meaning you don’t have to worry about hosting or buying a server–there are two choices that stand out above the rest: Shopify and Bigcommerce.
Shopify is a hugely popular eCommerce platform, and the company has experienced explosive growth over the past couple years. In 2014, they eclipsed the 100,000 stores milestone and they’ve only grown since, leading to a $1.27 billion IPO in 2015 (They are pushing 200,000 customers, now).
In other words, these guys know what they are doing.
Shopify comes with all the features you’d expect: item, order, and customer management. Like Magento, Shopify touts a pretty extensive extension library (they call it an App Store), so you can bolt all kinds of technologies to your webstore. It all comes in a visually slick package, too.
Shopify also helps you merge your online and offline stores, by providing Shopify POS. Using both Shopify’s webstore platform and POS system can be a quick and affordable way to build out a multichannel business, but be aware of the growth limitations this point-to-point approach will provide.
Though Shopify is not open source, like Magento, it still comes in at an affordable price point. Plans range from $29 to $179/month as of the time of this writing. There are additional costs for Shopify POS, $9 to $159/month.
Bigcommerce is a platform that is pretty similar to Shopify. It’s a hosted product. It’s very clean and intuitive. And, it’s growing fast. If you’re looking at hosted options, Bigcommerce should definitely be on your list.
The biggest benefit to Bigcommerce over Magento or Shopify is the amount of functionality they built into the platform. Features like product reviews, multichannel marketing, and recommendations are part of the core product. You don’t have to rely on Apps or extensions, which sometimes include extra costs. On the other hand, Bigcommerce’s extension marketplace is significantly smaller than Shopify’s.
Bigcommerce is a little behind Shopify, in terms of business growth, but still has an impressive near-100,000 customers. To be fair, Bigcommerce was founded in 2009, three years after Shopify.
Magento vs. Shopify vs. Bigcommerce
Differentiating Bigcommerce and Shopify can be tough, because they really are quite similar in many respects. Style Factory recently posted a pretty comprehensive comparison, which split the hairs for you. Definitely check it out.
Also, check out G2Crowd’s comparison of Magento, Shopify, and Bigcommerce, which will include many customer reviews about detailed topics:
The above ratings are as of the time of this writing.
Open Source Alternatives
If you prefer to stay with an open source software solution (like Magento), two options are particularly worth looking at: WooCommerce and PrestaShop.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce add-on for WordPress, developed by WooThemes. WordPress is a free web content management system, and it is by far the most commonly used platform for hosting a website. WooCommerce simply adds eCommerce features onto that platform.
WooThemes claims that WooCommerce is the most used eCommerce solution on the web, but the link they provide says otherwise. However, it’s still in the top 5. In other words, lots of online merchants use WooCommerce to build out an eCommerce store.
Functionally, WooCommerce will give you all the basics you need for a webstore. But, it’s not nearly as full-featured as Magento, Bigcommerce, or Shopify.
WooCommerce will be a particularly good solution for you if:
- You are comfortable with WordPress and/or want the non-eCommerce features a WordPress site can provide.
- You’re on a shoestring budget.
- You like to build out your functionality using customization and lots of plugins. This is WordPress’s bread and butter.
WooCommerce is free and open source, so you can get started for basically nothing. Just remember to consider any developer costs you’ll require for customization, any costs that come with the services you might plug in, and hosting.
PrestaShop is also open source, but kind of a different beast. They provide two options: a free hosted solution and an open source downloadable version that you have to host yourself. This gives merchants some flexibility.
Free Hosted Solution
The free hosted solution is more like an alternative to Shopify and Bigcommerce. You just set up your store online, without having to install any software. Your customization abilities are limited, but you don’t have to worry about infrastructure or hosting.
PrestaShop is able to provide this free hosting because they make money by charging for plugins. But, like anything in life, you get what you pay for. As your web presence grows, you may outgrow the hosting that PrestaShop can provide you. At that point, you may need to consider a different hosting solution.
Open Source Downloadable Solution
The downloadable version of PrestaShop is open source, so you can customize to your heart’s content. It does require that you set up hosting, so this can add costs that could be pretty small at entry levels.
PrestaShop, like WooCommerce, will give you all the basic webstore functionality you require, but without plugins is not going to get you as far as Shopify or Bigcommerce. (There’s a reason those platforms have such high adoption.)
Maybe you’re evaluating Magento alternatives because you’ve outgrown Magento. This is a great problem to have! And, it means you need to evaluate enterprise alternatives to Magento, and three you should look at are Demandware, Shopify Plus, and Bigcommerce. (Don’t forget to consider Magento Enterprise, too.)
One of the most popular eCommerce platforms in use (BuiltWith says 9% of stores use it) is Demandware. And, it’s definitely built for the enterprise.
Demandware includes enterprise multisite, multilanguage, personalization, and order management functionality. It’s also more enterprise developer friendly, including toolkits and other developer resources. They also include the hosting infrastructure that can hold up to extremely high value sites.
Demandware was rated a “Leader” in the Forrester Wave for B2C Commerce Suites. They also host brands like Adidas, Godiva, Brooks Brothers, and Michaels. These are not niche eCommerce sites.
Like any enterprise platform Demandware is in a completely different price category than Magento Community or any of the other hosted or open source platforms we’ve discussed so far. But, if you’re looking for an enterprise solution, this one should be on your list.
Shopify Plus & Bigcommerce Enterprise
Both Shopify and Bigcommerce offer enterprise versions of their hosted solutions. In both cases they are simply taking the standard offering and elevating to a high-volume, enterprise level of service: better service, stricter uptime SLAs, enterprise integration capabilities, etc.
Both of these should be on your enterprise eCommerce list, if that’s the path you’re headed down.
How do you decide?
Every business is different. The best eCommerce platform for one merchant may not be the best for another. Depending on whether you want a hosted solution, an open source platform, or you are ready to go enterprise, these are the best vendors to start with. (They are far from the only ones.)
For more detail about how to evaluate eCommerce platforms against the key requirements of multichannel retail, check out our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide.