The View from England

After Magento 1, build something special

Magento will soon stop supporting version 1. Many ecommerce businesses running Magento 1 will be looking for alternatives. There is no shortage of recommendations and advice.

Leading contenders include Shopify, WooCommerce, and Open Cart, among others. All have strengths and weaknesses.

No-hassle ecommerce?

Take Shopify. Its marketing materials claim to take the hassle out of ecommerce, making it easy for anyone to set up a shop and then easily maintain it. All this is true. But does it apply to your business? When you buy a car, do you follow what the salesman says is important? Do you let the salesman list all the things the car is good at and not bother to ask what you want the car for?

Merchants should not select ecommerce platforms based on their “benefits.” Indeed we have all seen comparison sites that offer a long list of “features” for each platform. Do those features matter to you?.

Most ecommerce platforms will have basic requirements. Similarly, most cars have four wheels, brakes, and an engine. So there is little point in comparing them.

Business owners are encouraged to build their own sites. It is “easy.” “Professional” looking sites can be up and running in hours. We would not dream of doing this for brick-and-mortar shops. So why is it acceptable on the internet?

Maximize profit

So how should an ecommerce merchant select a platform? The most important factor is profit. Your site should make as much money as possible. After all, we are presumably in business to make money. Everything else is secondary.

Your customers do not care what platform you choose. They don’t care who hosts it. All that matters to them is that they can find the products they want, and it is easy to buy.

The second most important factor is the content. Why? Most platforms emphasize the speed and ease of putting up a product. It leaves the impression that the content — descriptions, professional photos — is unimportant.

A $1,000 website might make a few thousand dollars profit every year. But a $10,000 site could make $100,000 in profit. Investing in professional designers, copywriters, photographers, and marketers can generate much more profit than a DIY site.

It is all too easy to complain that our cheap sites are losing out to Amazon and eBay due to size and marketing budgets. But part of the reason they are winning is that their sites work correctly and have been professionally built and maintained. Many consumers complain about Amazon. There are many opportunities to be better. All it takes is an investment with the right professionals.

So when you contemplate alternatives to Magento 1, why not produce a proper business plan, invest real money, and build something special?

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