What is the Best E-Commerce System?

I always get the same question from many entrepreneurs and business owners alike – what is the best e-commerce system or platform out there? I always tell them that it depends on what they want their online store to accomplish.

There are many open source e-commerce platforms such as XCart, OS Commerce, Magento, and others.  Some are easy to set up, and others offer more sophisticated tools to better equip an e-commerce store to operate like a fully functional bricks and mortar store, including POS integration.

To choose the best, I would assume they want a platform that is both up to the latest trends and robust. If the budget persists, the best e-commerce system available is Magento. The Magento Community Edition E-Commerce platform gives business owners all the tools that are required for a high end and robust online store.  It comes equipt with CRM based reporting, built in newsletter, blog, and more. It also allows users to cross and upsell products and manage inventory with both basic and supply chain like attributes.

The system is alot bigger and powerful than your basic OS Commerce or Cart e-commerce solutions. Installing it on basic hosting accounts like Godaddy and others will make your system run slow. It is strongly advised to invest in a more powerful Linux based hosting server like Mediatemple, 1and1, and others. 

Selecting the best e-commerce system really comes down to the amount of products you are trying to sell, and the method of management that you want. If you are a small business and will basically manage the store yourself, or with a helper or two, a fast and efficient system like WordPress or X-Cart will suffice. If you want to build a fluid store and see yourself adding in alot of inventory, and really want to implement at CRM system to your customers, Magento is the way to go right now!

If you do invest in Magento, you must know that customization and upkeep is more expensive. Yes, it is a Linux and PHP system, but the programming and databases are more complex and knowledge of JS, the Magento code, and cross platform development is needed.  It offers all that you need, but make sure you have the team that is ready to handle it on an ongoing basis!

WordPress vs. Joomla for Websites

When I get new clients that request an open source CMS to manage their websites, two popular brands always pop up- WordPress and Joomla. Both are free, open source technologies that offer similar features. Both allow for web development and built in plugins and extras like online stores, login systems, portfolios, sharing tools, and more.

The biggest question is which is more beneficial and efficient.  I get a lot of clients that, wanting an online store, ask what is the difference between the two.  Joomla has been around longer and WordPress became popular as the ideal blogging module in the market, then quickly became used to build fully functional websites. Both are coded in PHP and both allow for customization from top to bottom.

Personally, I feel WordPress is better suited for all facets of the newest trends in web development like HTML5, Jquery, and AJAX tools.  Joomla is easier to use and implement, and requires hardly any coding experience. That is why Joomla is more widely used, as it gives front end web designers the ability to add in back-end capabilities. But, in the long run, WordPress is more robust and allows for future customization and changes a lot easier. 

Joomla is built in “modules”, as one section of the website is dependent on the framework of another. So the layout and tools added in cannot be easily adjusted and modified in different positions and sections. WordPress is completly built in HTML and PHP, so it allows for fuller access to core code and can easily be adjusted and customized with an experienced PHP developer who is familiar with WordPress CMS framework.

I see WordPress as the future of open source CMS development. Others exist for specific and more advanced purposes, like Magento and Drupal. I will go into those another time!