With all of the interest in ecommerce of late, I thought I’d share a recent roundup of a few pro-grade ecommerce CMS platforms. Technology evolves fast, so the following is subject to change...let's talk if you have some specific questions.
For the modern artisan.
If there’s one persona that sits on a soft spot in my heart, it's this one. Those who would create a specialty product or lineup, listen endlessly to the audience for that product, and relentlessly improve the product every day. Even when they don’t feel like doing it (a ‘professional’, as Seth Godin would put it).
If you've ever found yourself in that vocation, you've likely dabbled a bit in the digital retail platforms. One day, you pull the trigger. Say you liked WooCommerce: the open-source ecosystem and the huge plug-in marketplace...the world is your oyster, anything you want to add on later would seem to be at your fingertips. Or maybe you went with something else (similarly shiny).
Then one day, it starts feeling a little shaky. 'Alert: the platform needs an update!', but compatibility with other plug-ins is ‘unknown’. Maybe you go ahead and update it. And a bunch of things break on your home page…styles look messed up; functions don’t work. ‘I wish they didn’t tell me to do that’ is an unsavory sentiment toward a solution vendor….it leaves a bad taste. Hopefully you tested all this on a staging site, and not the ‘live’ site.
Or, maybe the number of paid plug-ins is getting ridiculous…to get very basic ecommerce functions that should just be part of the core product anyway. And, ‘do I need to renew this annual license, or not?’ It’s never clear what the tradeoffs are for renewing a plug-in or letting it go. Because every part of it depends on every other part of it, your outdated plug-in may crash your site, after you update an unrelated plug-in.
In any case, if you’ve been there, you’re right. It’s gross. Its a mess. It doesn’t work. The product doesn’t have great leadership. I don’t care how many installations it has…that’s like measuring how tall a dung pile is. Some would be proud, but why?
Commencement: Where to go next?
Here’s what I’d consider longer-term, professional-grade solution for ‘modern artisans'. You may detect my slight preference for one of them, but I'll assume the role of indifferent evaluator as some may be a better fit for certain needs. For example, you may prefer to 'rent' vs. 'own', or vice-versa. One is not better; it's a preference, and also depends on suitability for any particular business.
Content Management System and performance considerations:
Rules of thumb for 'apples to apples' cost comparisons between substitute platforms are (a) cost of start up, and (b) 5-year cost of ownership.
Some key observations and annotations to the data below:
- - Craft is more to set up but less costly to maintain.
- - BigCommerce, Shopify tend to be more expensive on a recurring: monthly license fees.
- - Shopify has created a lower bar to enter, but then capabilities are relatively more limited.
- - Development costs can vary slightly across platforms for startup. Maintenance cost should be similar for years 2 - 5.
Cost comparison, detailed:
Numbers behind the chart above. Note that these are estimates and your situation may vary. Plug-in or platform upgrade costs assumed certain functionality to make all platforms equal; for example: abandon cart recovery, gift vouchers, logistics (i.e. Shipstation), Facebook Product Catalog.