e-commerce shopping cart comparison

e-commerce shopping cart comparison

Recently we had a customer bring us a complex e-commerce requirement.

That prompted us to look again at the various e-commerce internet shopping cart solutions currently available.

It was a very interesting exercise looking at the various options and forming a conclusion of the best e-commerce shopping cart solution for our customer.

Customer Requirement

The customer requirement was especially complex. Not so much in what they wanted their customers to be able to do, but in the complexity of the products they sold.

Their business is clothing - lingerie to be precise. Their products come in a huge variety of sizes. A portfolio of about 50 ‘products’ translates into almost 3,000 individual stock keeping units (SKU).

Stock records have to be kept for each individual SKU, so the complexity arose from the numbers of SKUs to sell and manage.

All the time the shopping experience had to be kept as simple as possible, giving as much information as possible at critical points in the path to ‘Buy Now’.

There was also a lot of supporting material – text, pictures and videos to explain the customer’s unique selling proposition.

In summary we needed a powerful shopping cart capable of dealing with a complex product set and a powerful content management system to organise the rest of the site content and facilitate easy updating.

E-Commerce Solutions Evaluated

The various solutions and combinations of e-commerce shopping cart solutions we evaluated were:

  • Joomla / VirtueMart
  • Joomla / redSHOP
  • Wordpress / GetShopped
  • Drupal / Ubercart
  • OSCommerce
  • Magento

Our conclusion was to develop the customer’s solution using the Drupal / Ubercart combination. Here’s why.

Joomla / Virtuemart

Joomla is an excellent content management system. VirtueMart is the accepted e-commerce shopping cart solution that partners Joomla.

VirtueMart is easy to set up and offers a great deal of functionality as standard. Configuration to a customer’s requirement is logical and straightforward.

There’s also a huge infrastructure of third party add-ons to extend VirtueMart’s functionality in pretty much any direction you can imagine.

The problem in this case was the complexity of the stock management requirement. VirtueMart can’t handle multiple SKUs per product to handle the different sizes.

Whilst workarounds were possible, the whole administrative interface of VirtueMart suits fewer products. Scaling it to meet our customer’s requirement would have given them an administrative headache.

Joomla / redSHOP

The alternative e-commerce shopping cart solution for Joomla is redSHOP.

RedSHOP is a much newer product than VirtueMart. RedSHOP was also capable of meeting the customer’s requirement – at least in theory.

RedSHOP’s newness was its problem from our perspective.

We don’t like our customers having to do any pioneering. On top of that, the infrastructure of supporting third party add-ons is thin.

RedSHOP is an interesting product, and maybe one day we’ll have another look.

Wordpress / GetShopped

Wordpress is known as a hugely popular blogging platform, but it’s also a simple and effective content management system.

The popular e-commerce shopping cart solution for Wordpress is GetShopped – also known as Wordpress e-Commerce.

GetShoped has a clean, easy shopping cart process leading to a one page checkout. Very easy to set up and customise, with a host of supporting third party add-ons. For many customers, a great combination.

In this case however the lack of any serious stock management facilities meant it was a non-starter.

Drupal / Ubercart

Drupal is a top tier content management system, hugely powerful and hugely flexible. There’s not much that can’t be achieved with Drupal.

Ubercart is the main e-commerce shopping cart solution for Drupal. And just like Drupal, it’s a hugely capable internet shopping solution that’s very flexible.

The Drupal / Ubercart combination is formidable in terms of capability, but from our perspective it needs a great deal of integration work to set it up correctly. Its power and flexibility translates into complexity when you’re in a hurry.

The supporting infrastructure of third party add-ons for both Drupal and Ubercart is immense, so just about anything is possible with knowledge and time.

The Drupal / Ubercart combination was the only combination that enabled us to meet the customer’s requirement. The downside was it was going to be tight to meet the timescale given the system’s integration complexity Drupal and Ubercart demand.

OSCommerce

We looked briefly at OSCommerce.

A couple of years ago OSCommerce was THE open source e-commerce shopping cart solution.

Now OSCommerce looks dated, and there’s still no clean integration with any of the major content management systems.

On top of that, OSCommerce couldn’t meet the customer’s stock management requirement.

Game over.

Magento

Magento is a much hyped and fast growing e-commerce shopping cart solution. It’s available in two versions – the ‘Magento Community Edition’ and the ‘Magento Enterprise Edition’.

What’s the difference between the Magento versions? Well - $11,125 a year for starters. And that’s the problem.

Magento may be an ‘open-source’ solution, but it’s the product of a commercial company rather than a collaborative community.

On the face of it the Magento Community Edition is free, but our concern was we’d get into the integration cycle and then discover some required feature was only in the Magento Enterprise Edition.

And then it’d be a hard choice. Pay up $11,125, or backtrack and start again. Not commercially attractive to either us or our customer.

There's also the content management problem There's no complete integration with any of the major content management systems, though there is work happening to help Joomla and Magento co-exist.

Conclusions

The result of our investigation into current e-commerce shopping cart solutions is summarised here. Scores are from one to three – one lowest, three highest.

Product Combination Content Management Shopping Cart Stock Scaleability
Joomla / VirtueMart 3 2 1 1
Joomla / redSHOP 3 2? 1? 2?
Wordpress / GetShopped 2 2 1 2
Drupal / Ubercart 3 3 3 3
OSCommerce 1 2 1 2
Magento 1 3 2? 3?

We went with the Drupal / Ubercart combination. It may be complex, but it’s doing everything our customer wants.