An eCommerce Platform Comparison...Reimagined as a Character Alignment Chart

subscription services, Web Services, eStore, magento

January 1, 2019

If you’re a fan of The Office, Chopped, Dungeons & Dragons, or Game of Thrones, you may have come across a character alignment chart like the below while cruising the internet. We love a good meme, so instead of writing a boring blog about choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business (which is important), we decided to characterize nine of the most popular platforms to help better illustrate their benefits and drawbacks.

Here’s what we came up with…

Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 1.27.10 PMNow, this chart, explained.

1. Lawful Good: SquareSpace.
• Beautiful websites with easy, drag & drop templates, ideal for stores using high-quality imagery
• Affordable, plans range from $18-$46/month
• Great data for sales, revenue, and traffic sources, easy to optimize for SEO, blog capabilities
• Limited customization, tough to access code
• Ideal for beginners, small, and medium-sized businesses with limited technical expertise
• 3% transaction fees for plans below premium level

2. Neutral Good: Shopify.
• Easy to set up and use, offering free themes and easy theme customizations
• Great support
• Wide range of plans for different businesses, ranging from $29-$299/month
• App store with many different marketplace integrations and add-on features
• Difficult to make code changes due to Ruby-on-Rails-based code language
• Easy to optimize for SEO
• Ideal for beginners, small, and medium-sized businesses

3. Chaotic Good: Magento.
• Free, open-source software that can be installed on your own server, or you can purchase a cloud-based hosted plan (this is an expensive option)
• The “WordPress” of eCommerce platforms
• Tons of features and control
• If you self-host, you’ll be responsible for performing updates
• PHP-based code
• Ideal for sellers with development knowledge or budget for development services

4. Lawful Neutral: Wix Stores.
• Drag & drop templates are easy to use and set up
• 500 templates and stock imagery for use
• Fully hosted solution
• App market for add-ons
• Can’t change your template once your site is published
• eCommerce capabilities are somewhat basic
• Ideal for small businesses with small inventory and simple needs.

5. True Neutral: SalesForce Commerce Cloud.
• Built-in omnichannel marketing capabilities
• Good analytics & great support
• Fully hosted and cloud-based
• Expect to pay commission on every sale
• Users have less control as a hosted solution
• No available previews of the backend

6. Chaotic Neutral: Open Cart.
• Free, open-source, self-hosted or cloud-based options
• Highly customizable with thousands of available themes and plugins
• Lack of native SEO optimization options
• Known for being not particularly fast and tough to scale
• Better for slightly advanced users with smaller stores

7. Lawful Evil: BigCommerce.
• Similar to Shopify
• Marketplace integrations with Amazon, eBay, social selling
• App store and marketing tools
• Only a few available templates
• Difficult to customize design
• No native POS features
• Imposes sales limits based on your plan
• Abandon cart feature costs extra
• Monthly plans range from $29.95 to $249.95, ideal for large businesses or those anticipating fast growth

8. Neutral Evil: Volusion.
• Hosted solution with drag & drop editor
• Free responsive themes
• Comprehensive search
• Marketplace integrations
• SSL certificate (a must for any eCommerce site) costs extra
• Pricing is based on anticipated bandwidth usage, with 1, 3, 10, and 35GB plans. Overages are charged at an additional $7 per GB.
• Bandwidth-based pricing model = evil.

9. Chaotic Evil: Zen Cart.
• Open-source, self-hosted solution
• Built-in SEO optimization tools
• Ability to send HTML emails directly from the platform
• Lots of configuration options for products: coupon codes, gift certificates, etc.
• Outdated interface
• Extensions & templates are difficult to find
• Worst of all...No user support!

We hope this alignment chart was useful to you! Anything we missed? Let us know!