We are often asked what is the best e-commerce website software to start an online shop to facilitate the sale and delivery of physical goods. The short answer is probably WooCommerce, but read on to see if Magento or OpenCart are a good fit for your needs. The website isn’t the only challenge of setting up an online shop though, you still need to source and stock the products, manage your inventory, take orders, provide customer service, set up and manage your payment providers, and physically ship the products. We’ll assume you have all that taken care of though and just look at the e-commerce website software.
It’s no secret that we are big fans of WordPress. We’ve used it daily to manage websites for years and we manage a large number of client WordPress sites. Infact, we’d call ourselves WordPress specialists.
When it comes to e-commerce website software, WordPress also delivers in the form of WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a hugely popular and easy to use e-commerce platform that integrates right into your existing WordPress website. It’s also easy to integrate the ABA PayWay payment gateway in Cambodia with WooCommerce using a premium plugin.
Many WordPress themes already have WooCommerce support, and there are thousands of themes that are specially made for WooCommerce. Find a free WooCommerce theme in the WordPress repository or buy a premium theme from a trusted marketplace like ThemeForest.
We haven’t found much that we can’t do with WooCommerce, and most of it can be done with free plugins. Though some free solutions can be a little clunky, but that could be purposeful by the developers to get you to buy into their premium plugins. You’ll find plugins in the usual WordPress repository.
User Experience 4/5
It’s a simple process for customers to buy and many will be familiar with the process. However it is often typical of a “small” e-commerce shop and custom parts can sometimes be a bit clunky or awkward. If your needs fit within the standard functionality then it’ll work great, but it’ll take some tweaks for anything custom to work smoothly for the customer.
Admin Experience 3.5/5
Hidden in the WordPress admin dashboard the order process could be seen as limited, but it does what it needs to. It’s easy enough to configure payment gateways, most of which have plugins available, and the shipping options are very flexible – we’ve built shops that cater for everything from local pickup, local fixed rate delivery, to worldwide zones with weight based shipping. You can configure the basics such as order statuses and email notifications.
Find WooCommerce at https://woocommerce.com/
If you want to run a large online shop then many would recommend Magento, but the learning curve is steep. It’s a fully featured, trusted and well established platform, but it is also a bit of a beast creating extra work for both the developer and server it runs on. We wouldn’t bother with Magento for a small shop, it would need to be a serious undertaking to make it worthwhile getting your head around the platform.
Adobe’s acquisition of Magento earlier this year is an interesting development, and at least shows that Magento is here to stay but it’s a concern that they will be focusing on their cloud commerce offering instead of the open source e-commerce website software.
Although the community is not as big as WordPress (what is?), there are plenty of developers out there dedicated to Magento. You won’t be short of premium theme options to choose from.
We feel that if you are running a large enough e-commerce shop to justify using Magento, then you can probably justify having a developer (or a whole team) on hand to make customisations. You might find what you want on the marketplace (https://marketplace.magento.com/) but there aren’t that many free plugins available for it – some can be quite pricey.
User Experience 4/5
Magento delivers when it comes to user experience. It powers many of the largest e-commerce shops and many customers wouldn’t even know it. It offers everything that a large e-commerce retailer might need for its customers.
Admin Experience 4/5
It can be complex but you can do just about anything a commerce store needs. Advanced inventory management, multiple locations, shipping options, and more. For this one you will simply need to try it and see if it fits your specific needs.
Find Magento at https://magento.com/
This small but established contender offers a mix of benefits from both platforms. OpenCart e-commerce website software is small and simple enough for a small shop and novice user, and is fully e-commerce focused without any extra fluff. It is lightweight and won’t tax your server, so we like it for that reason too. You won’t find a huge range of plugins or themes, but if your needs are simple then it is likely that OpenCart will fit the bill. There is a small community of developers and it is a well established open source product with a lot of integrations with existing payment gateways. We’ve got one client that has used it for a simple product catalogue since 2010 and there were no issues upgrading to the latest versions along the way. This simple platform might be all you need.
Theming & Plugins 2.5/5
With a relatively small community there aren’t that many themes or plugins available for OpenCart, but you will find some available. Since the market for OpenCart is smaller, most premium theme and plugin developers focus on WooCommerce or Magento. It is however easy enough to customise the OpenCart themes, so if you find a free one that you like then with a bit of developer magic you can tweak it to make it your perfect shopfront.
User Experience 4/5
Simple and no surprises for the user when purchasing items. Might be a bit restricted in what they can do though.
Admin Experience 3.5/5
Managing products is simple enough for an inexperienced user, though some parts are a little unintuitive such as setting up static pages.
Find OpenCart at https://www.opencart.com/
Any of the three options will provide you with a fully functional e-commerce website, but they take very different approaches. It will depend on what you’re using it for, what resources you have on hand to help you with this, and which you feel comfortable with.
Which is most suited for my website?
We’d recommend WooCommerce for almost all situations, especially for smaller shops or those with limited resources. Thinking about the bigger picture too – you’re typically going to need more than just a shop front. You’ll also need static website pages and a blog for all the SEO benefits, both of which WordPress excels at. WooCommerce does do the e-commerce part just fine too, so it’s not like you’re making compromises there. Even if you choose Magento or OpenCart it is likely you’ll be looking at WordPress to provide the blog functionality anyway, so it often makes sense to have everything under one roof.
The primary Magento user will probably be large enough to have their own technical team to advise them on their specific needs, and a separate marketing team to manage a blog so might even benefit from having the separation there. If your team likes Magento then go for it.
OpenCart might appeal to a developer that wants something super lightweight and wants to customise things themselves, but the average user will probably hit a wall with the lack of plugins and extensions if they try to do anything beyond the standard out of the box functionality.
The main problem that you will encounter with any of these e-commerce website software packages is that they are typically constrained to working how they are set up to work – but that isn’t necessarily how your business works. So you’re always going to want some degree of customisation.
It is also beneficial to be open to adapting your business practices to better fit the online ordering process. For example it may be the first time you’ve really thought about inventory management, and while in an offline retail shop if you don’t have a product in stock then you can’t sell it – there is nothing stopping your website from taking payment for a product you don’t actually have in stock. That is only going to leave disappointed customers and a customer service nightmare for your team.
While all platforms have some support for the non-developer, and WooCommerce is the best of the bunch for affordable plugins, the best way to customise any platform is to get your hands dirty with code.
If you’re looking for speed then unfortunately both WooCommerce and Magento have the reputation of being a bit chunky, but both have robust caching options to help speed things up. Out of the box OpenCart is certainly the fastest, but it also has the least support for page caching and other tweaks to improve performance. With the right tweaks both WooCommerce and Magento can be fast enough so if you have a team and resources behind you and know what you’re doing then this isn’t a huge worry.
WooCommerce boasts on its own website that it powers 28% of all online stores, and with the ease of getting started we can certainly believe that. For more stats, you can check out “Built With” for all 3 platforms here which will give you an idea to their market share and popularity over recent years:
Installing the software
We offer web hosting for WooCommerce, Magento, and OpenCart. You can install all of these e-commerce website software packages easily with our automatic installer provided with all our web hosting accounts. Just login to your cPanel, scroll down to Softaculous Apps Installer and select WordPress, Magento, or OpenCart from the list.
Your customers in Asia will love you for choosing our web hosting services for your online shop as it’ll make their user experience much faster. Happy customers means more sales.
All our web hosting packages are ready for an e-commerce website and will support any of these platforms. Just sign up for e-commerce web hosting online to get started, or get in touch if you’d like to hire our web development team to create a custom e-commerce solution for you.