05 Mar Which shopping cart system should you be using in 2017?
Magento has been the market leader for online shopping cart systems for the last 5 years, but with the release of Magento 2 and the rise of other systems, is it still the way to go in 2017?
When I first migrated from Joomla’s Virtuemart to Magento about 5 years ago it was a breath of fresh air, finally a dedicated shopping cart system that was stable and had all the capabilities required to rival any high street shop, so much so that they themselves also adopted it. For years we heard about the all new Magento 2 that was coming, it was hyped as the new era of commerce innovation and finally it was released around November 2015. Of course as a web designer working for clients it’s never a good idea to start using a new release straight away, it takes time for the developers to iron out the bugs and for the community to start finding and solving issues.
For the last 16 months since the Magento 2 release I’ve stuck with Magento 1x, it’s still working nicely and some of my clients are running very successful online shops using the system. If it’s not broke don’t fix it? I’m all for that but in web design if you don’t keep your websites updated you will have problems with security. It’s difficult to find exact information about when they will stop releasing new security patches for Magento 1x but the general verdict is 3 years after the release of Magento 2. This will make it 2018 when all Magento 1x installs will potentially become vulnerable, it really won’t be long after that Magento 1x shops are compromised and when dealing with shopping carts you could be dealing with sensitive data.
At some point last year I did install Magento 2 just to have a look around, I wasn’t particularly blown away with the new backend but in general it all looked ok. It’s advertised to have a new flexible architecture, engaging shopping experiences, enhanced business agility and productivity, better scalability and performance, secure payments, easier maintenance and upgrades. Sounds pretty awesome and when the time was right I was looking forward to exploring properly.
With potentially only a year or so left in Magento 1x life I’m at the point where I think it would be unfair to sell somebody this system, considering there isn’t a simple upgrade procedure for Magento 1 to 2 it has to be Magento 2 for any new shop now. Some of my clients are of course fully aware of Magento 2 and are now discussing the schedule with me for the upgrade of their existing websites, 2017 was looking like the year to make the switch.
February this year I’ve jumped in and installed Magento 2 with a Template Monster commercial theme, I’ve got a new project that’s perfect to test the water. 2 or 3 weeks in and unfortunately I’ve had nothing but problems with it, I’ve had to start the project again 3 times and I still don’t have answers for many issues. It seems to me the user experience for the admin is difficult and buggy, I’m struggling so I have no idea how I’m supposed to teach my clients, many of which are really not that technical with it. The site performance seems very sluggish to me, I understand there are ways to improve this after development but I just want something that works better out the box. When I got stuck I found it difficult to find answers on the internet, the Magento 2 community and available documentation is very limited at this point. It’s got to the point where I’m almost ready to give up on Magento and have started exploring other options, maybe in the future Magento 2 will be a viable option again but right now I’m not so sure.
So where do we go from here? Shopify seems to be a fast growing popular system for small to medium shops, as I’m browsing the internet I’m noticing more and more websites on this. However what discourages me is the monthly fees, many of my clients wouldn’t entertain this. Maybe it’s the perfect system if you’re setting up your own shop and you have some design knowledge, but for reselling to clients it’s difficult.
Everybody uses WordPress for their CMS websites these days and of course they have a shopping cart solution, WooCommerce is fairly popular and well supported. I’ve dabbled with it over the years but always opted for in my opinion the superior Magento, but maybe now it’s time to start taking it more seriously. WordPress is super user friendly, the upgrade process is painless, it does tick a lot of boxes. I know there are literally thousands of add-ons available for WooCommerce but I need to do some research to confirm if they have suitable solutions for some of the more advanced features I’ve previously had working in Magento, for example complicated shipping combinations.
There are a number of other shopping cart systems available, for example BigCommerce, CubeCart, Drupal Commerce, Open Cart, Virtuemart and Zen Cart to name just a few. But do any of these have the functionality, stability and community to take the rains from Magento? The truth is I don’t know the answer at this point, I’m leaning towards WooCommerce but I’m really confused.
If you have any suggestions I would love to hear what you have to say?