Which Ecommerce Platform Is Right For Me

For the last few months I have been getting heavily involved in ecommerce. I have taken one site from an average of $15k a month turnover to $23k this month. No money spent on adverts, although we did spend about $200 on links. I am going to do a short report on that as it really was what I considered to be obvious stuff.

However todays post is to cover two ecommerce platforms that I have been looking at and try to explain why I have picked the one I have.

The two platforms are


You can click either image above to go to their site. No affiliate links as I am not an affiliate of either.

  • These opinions are mine and mine alone, no one at the companies knows I am doing it (not sure they would care)
  • I have been using big commerce for a couple of months, I spent 1 day with magento (i will explain why)
  • I will not compare these to any kind of WordPress butchery which people use, well not here anyway

I started to look at magento for a project for one reason, cost. I have less than 100 items to sell and Big commerce costs $25 a month for that amount of skus, magento is $15 a month (they do have a way to get it for free!). If both platforms are pretty much the same then why not save $10 a month, I believe in getting a business to be Raman profitable really fast if I can (the expression just means it makes enough to feed me Raman noodles) and then build from there.

I think that it is a mistake to base every desicison for your business on price. This is why people use wordpress for ecommerce sites, they think it is cheap and that is good enough. In my opinion that is a mistake and it can cost you a lot of time and stress. Magento is cheaper than big commerce and offers more storage and bandwidth.
100 items
Big Commerce = $25 per month – 200mb storage and 2 gig bandwidth
Magento            =  $15 per month – 200mb storage and 4 gig bandwidth

500 products
Big Commerce = $40 per month -300 meg storage and  3 gig bandwidth
Magento             =$25 per month -500 meg storage and 8 gig bandwidth

1k Products
Big Commerce = $80 per month – 500 meg storage and 5 gig bandwidth
Magento             =$65 per month – 800 meg storage and 16 gig bandwidth
Big commerce = 100 templates – some of them are very plain , some are aimed at specific markets
Magento             = 11 templates    -Generally nice but not a lot of variety to my opinion

You can buy magento templates from various places http://themeforest.net/category/ecommerce/magento , but they cost, $70+ seems to be average. This kind of goes against my idea of being profitable quickly. I don’t want to pay $70 for a theme, yes I may do so later when I have an idea that my store is really going to be profitable (with the best will in the world there may well

I think this was the killer for me, to be able to sell on Facebook with magento I had to get an extension  – http://go.magento.com/extensions/ – that one was free but in Bigcommerce it is all built in.

Advanced Reports – I love my data and to be honest I think it is more important with an ecommerce store than any other store. Big commerce has all I need built in. With Magento I found out that I would have to buy an extension-$129 – hang on if I amoratize that over the 1st year that is $10 a month. Which is the amount I am saving by going with Magento over big commerce.

Big commerce Apps – http://apps.bigcommerce.com/ – they do have a marketplace for apps that offer extra functionality but so far I have never wanted something I have not found in the core. I do like the look of the abandoned cart plugin, but at $20 a month it does not meet my plans. One thing you could do once you have some traffic to your site is take them up on the 30 day trial and see how many new sales it brings. If the new sales are more than enough to cover the $20 a month, then it makes sense to buy.

Both systems offer great support options. I have not had to use the phone support for them but their online support is good. They also have extensive videos and articles showing you how to do things.

Both companies have great follow up training systems. It makes sense as they  want you to stay using their system. Magento have some superb books you can download and print out to walk you through the system. I have looked at opencart (which is free) and the only books they have available have to be purchased for around $30 so the free (and very detailed) books are a great thing.

Is it Just Personal Taste
It may well be, if you are just starting out and the $10 a month matters to you, you can work without the advanced reporting and you are happy to work with their templates  that Magento will be the ideal system for you. Out of the two I will choose Big Commerce.

My next test is going to be with opencart, is free the cheapest option for ecommerce software?

If you have questions or thoughts, or have been using some totally different ecommerce system with success let me know. I would love to see other options.


Perserverance Pays Off

I got this note from a Beta tester today

Thanks for staying with this project and pressing on in spite of the programmers.

He is testing a new version of a tool that has been the only product I ever worked on that drove me to tears. Now this week you are going to see lots of talk about how easy it is to produce software, make a million and smile all the way to the bank. I am going to tell you that it isn’t always like that.

I love product creation, I have done well with it for years and I have tools that are still selling after four years. But it is not all sweetness and light, this next product has been through three programmers. I will not go through the whole sob story but let me just say that I think it may have been easier to let it just go and move on.

So why did I stick with it?

Well it wasn’t for the money, it was because of the users. The people who bought the first version (which had a issue we didn’t spot till we had sold some and programmer 1 decided to stop answering emails) all loved it but knowing it wasn’t perfect I could not carry on selling it. It would actually have been cheaper to give them all their money back but I just couldn’t face giving up on a program that all the users loved.

Those first 30 buyers kept me working on this. Finally on programmer number 3 I had someone who could do it.

I hate to think how many hours I have spent on this project and the sales page and videos are not all done yet. But just seeing that message from the beta tester has made me get stuck into work today and finish the manual. Videos and sales page next, I am hoping to do some early bird sales next week.

So if you are working on a project that is taking longer than you hoped, maybe it is driving you nuts. Take a break by all means, but if you (or just as importantly other people) believe in it then do not quit.

Ok I am off to do some more cleaning, my mum is arriving from the UK tonight and as fast as we clean the house my daughter is getting toys back out so she can show nanny when she gets here.

Oh and yes I will be doing a special on the software when it is ready, so keep an eye out.

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