What are your eCommerce needs?
What are you selling?
eCommerce can include a wide array of products from events, to courses, to membership, to physical products such as mugs or t-shirts. Basically, anything that requires payment through your website.
For SEO purposes, it’s best to have your store within your website to enhance the user experience and to take advantage of the rich content that will boost your search rankings. For this reason, your current content management system (CMS) might impact your platform choice.
Which platform to choose?
The correct choice of an e-Commerce platform depends greatly on your current and future needs. Considerations include cost, ease of setup, customization, speed to deploy, shipping, internationalization, security, payment options, and much more.
In general, there are two main categories that eCommerce platforms fall into: open-source products and commercial products.
Open-source options are typically better for flexibility and scalability. They might require more setup and access to a development partner (like Industrial!) but they also can be customized to almost any degree and will be able to integrate with virtually any other system.
With commercial products, you generally don’t have access to the code to be able to extend, enhance and customize your solution beyond what’s available in an app store. You may be able to quickly set up a store without much technical expertise. However, your ability to customize the store might be limited and integrations with your website and other systems might prove to be challenging.
So if you require a highly customized experience, have a variety of product types and product pages, or need to integrate with a variety of systems, an open-source option like WooCommerce is a better option. If you need to set up a store quickly, with typical products and variants, and you're fine with using a starter template, then a closed system like Shopify is your best route. The next section will provide a breakdown of our top recommended eCommerce solutions.
Our “Top 4” eCommerce solutions
Stripe is unique in that it is both a payment processor as well as a payment gateway. It is comparable to Paypal in this respect and specifically with Paypal Braintree. Many people haven’t heard of Stripe but you may have used Stripe many times without realizing as it powers many popular services such as Uber or Kickstarter. It integrates with other eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce but also can integrate directly into your custom website or into an embedded form plugin like Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms.
Stripe might be the perfect eCommerce solution if you have unique product needs and a custom checkout process such as requiring a combination of physical products and recurring subscriptions (ie: phone + phone plan). It’s also an ideal solution if you have a one-off product such as a room booking, that needs to be deployed quickly within any type of website.
Stripe’s well-documented API and great technical support make it a popular choice amongst developers. But it also has a lot of great features for store owners including a dashboard UI that makes it simple to log in and process credit card payments over the phone and the ability to automate deposits into your account. You can also add subscriptions, support for invoices, emailed receipts, and offer in-person payments.
WooCommerce is the most popular choice for WordPress users but also the most popular choice on the internet with over 30% of all stores leveraging this plugin for their eCommerce needs.
You should consider it if you already use WordPress or want to build a large-scale online store selling in numerous regions. Additionally, it’s the perfect choice if you have unique product types, custom checkout process, or require a customized user experience.
WooComerce by itself is simply a way to display a list of products. It includes the product page, listing page, shopping cart, and checkout process. You can use shortcodes to embed products on any page, allowing you to integrate products within content sections of your website. It has its own tagging system to categorize products and add attributes to help users search, filter, and find exactly what they’re looking for.
If you require more than what comes out of the box, WooCommerce is very scalable with numerous plugins to extend the core functionality. These plugins come in both free and paid flavours but the paid plugins are well documented, well supported and reasonably priced. In total, there are more than 400 plugins that extend WooCommerce functionality for features such as shipping, donations, recurring payments, and much more.
WooCommerce integrates with a large variety of payment gateways including the most popular ones such as Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Authorize.net, Paypal, and Stripe. You can find a full list of payment gateways here.
When selecting a payment gateway it’s important to consider the gateway fees, location, security, and support for WooCommerce subscriptions (if applicable). The fees themselves might include signup fees, monthly subscription fees, transaction fees, and plugin fees.
Commerce is the equivalent of WooCommerce but for Drupal. It evolved from Drupal’s eCommerce predecessor, UberCart, and should be at the top of your list if your current website is built with Drupal 8 or above. Much like the core CMS, Drupal Commerce is a very flexible framework. Commerce requires some setup and customization out of the box so it’s not the best solution if you are looking for quick deployment.
Go with Drupal Commerce if you’ve already invested in Drupal and appreciate its flexibility and robustness. Drupal Commerce is a great solution if you are looking for a platform that is extremely customizable, with combinations of products & subscriptions or a flexible checkout flow. However, you will require a development partner (like Industrial!) to help you perform the setup and any custom work.
With Drupal Commerce, not a lot is pre-configured but it does come with a cart that pretty much works out of the box. The default setup allows for custom attributes, tax calculation, and VAT support. It also allows for as many product variations as needed, has built-in multiple-currency support and strong multilingual capabilities.
Drupal doesn’t have the concept of a paid marketplace so any modules you require to extend Drupal Commerce will be free. But possibly its biggest drawback is that third-party support isn’t as strong as WooCommerce. Although major integrations will likely be available you may need to build some yourself if you’re looking to integrate with other software.
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions on the planet with almost 20% market share. It has unique features that include the ability to set up a store yourself without any technical knowledge. They have sleek templates available although building a custom theme to match your organization’s branding will require custom development. Shopify comes with applicable fees (ranging from $29 to $299 per month) and has its own hosting and security.
You may want to consider Shopify if you need a traditional product store and want to build the store yourself. In general, your Shopify store will live at its own URL and you will not be able to take advantage of integration with your website without some custom work.
Shopify comes with 24/7 support and has multichannel integrations with platforms such as Amazon, Facebook and eBay. It also has an abandoned cart recovery feature and partnerships with Canada Post. USPS, DHL Express, and UPS to save you the hassle of sourcing your own courier. It also has over 1200 free and paid apps that are all reliable.
In terms of payment processing, Shopify will charge you 2% per transaction if you use a third-party gateway. But you can get around this by using their own Shopify Payments. It is also totally PCI-DSS compliant. You don’t have to worry or set up a thing, and can start processing credit and debit card payments from day one.
We’re here to help
Navigating the eCommerce and web development world can be extremely confusing for organizations, we get that. With Industrial as your UX, design, and technology partner we'll help guide you through all frontiers of the digital landscape.
Industrial builds websites powered by industry-leading content management systems. We are big believers in the open-source software world, with our primary expertise in Drupal and WordPress CMS deployments. Our team is experts at deploying and extending these CMS’s, including eCommerce and third-party API integrations with event management, learning management systems, and membership platforms.
We’d love the opportunity to learn more about your organization and your eCommerce requirements. We pride ourselves in tailoring websites for the ultimate user experience and ensuring that your CMS works for you today and well into the future.
Drop us a line to start a conversation. We look forward to it!
Director, Web Development email@example.com