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Enterprise eCommerce Platform vs Professional and Open Source eCommerce Solutions
Comparison of Difference eCommerce Options
There are hundreds of eCommerce / shopping cart software choices - unfortunately, most of them have focused on a one-size-fits-all and mass sales approach.Below are the main issues with most of today's eCommerce Platforms:
- One-size-fits-all method of design and development - building every possible feature, even though most of the features are useless and will not apply to most industries.
- No stress testing is done to make sure that the shopping cart is able to handle a large amount of inventory (plus options & accessories) or large site traffic growth.
- Poor planning and structural application design which adds complication and complexity to site customizations and maintenance.
- Useless features that cause a major slow down of the eCommerce
- Mass quantity sales concentration - sell the defunct eCommerce application to every unknowing person who is impressed with the long list of functionalities.
- Very little support and maintenance provided.
There is very little concentration on important elements such as:
- Scalability and the ability to handle the site's success and large traffic.
- Design and branding flexibility.
- Security vulnerability prevention.
- Ease of installation and deployment.
- Ease of customization and maintenance by other developers.
- Better usability.
- Support and maintenance.
- Version and release controls.
Below is a brief description, and a list of advantages and disadvantages of different types of eCommerce / shopping cart software platforms.
Enterprise eCommerce Platforms
Enterprise eCommerce Applications are more tailored for large online retailers with a substantial number of transactions, solid security considerations, ample room for scalability, and many rich features and functionality.
Some of the most valuable elements of an Enterprise eCommerce Platform are the warranty, support and version release features.
The majority of the Enterprise eCommerce Platforms do provide design and branding flexibility.
In addition, some of the Enterprise eCommerce Platforms provide ease of management and support for customizations or tailored features.
The cost for Enterprise eCommerce Platforms varies from one company to another.
- Comentum's Enterprise eCommerce starts at $13,000 (one time cost) which includes custom design and development. Includes warranty. Phone support at no cost. Maintenance and customization is available at the hourly rate. It is based on the Open Source Development Model.
- Magento's Enterprise eCommerce starts at $12,990 (yearly fee) - does not include custom design and development. Includes warranty. Support plans (Gold and Platinum) are available for a subscription cost. It is based on the Open Source Development
- OXID eShop Enterprise eCommerce starts at €12,990.00 ($18,150) - does not include custom design and development. Includes warranty. Support plans (Standard and Plus) are available for a subscription cost.
Professional eCommerce Platforms
Professional eCommerce Platforms are more tailored for small online retailers that do not require a substantial number of features, room for customizations and enterprise level support.
Most of the Professional eCommerce Platforms provide a limited warranty and support.
Majority of the Professional eCommerce Platforms do not provide design and branding flexibility.
The cost, warranty, and support for Professional eCommerce Platforms vary from one company to another.
- Comentum's Professional eCommerce starts at $3,000 (one time fee) which includes design and development. Includes warranty and phone support. Maintenance and customization is available at the hourly rate. It is based on the Open Source Development Model.
- Magento's Professional eCommerce starts at $2,995 (yearly fee) - does not include custom design and development. Includes warranty. Support plans are not available for the Professional version. It is based on the Open Source Development Model.
- OXID eShop Professional eCommerce starts at €1,990.00 ($2,780) - does not include custom design and development. Includes warranty. Support plans (Standard and Plus) are available for a subscription cost.
Community / Open Source eCommerce Platforms
Community based / Open Source eCommerce Platforms are more tailored for online retailers that have the necessary experience and resources for deploying and maintaining open source application frameworks.
Usually, there is no direct commercial or enterprise level support from the maker of the open source eCommerce application. The support can be provided by the community or a third party specialized in one of the open source eCommerce applications.
In most cases, there is no warranty provided for the Community based / Open Source eCommerce Platforms.
Although there is no licensing fee for Open Source eCommerce Platforms, there usually are costs involved for installing and deploying the Open Source eCommerce application. There will more substantial development costs if customizations are required.
Below are the top open source eCommerce platforms:
- Magento - Magento provides Enterprise, Professional and Community / Open Source eCommerce Platforms. It is based on PHP 5, MySQL 5 and uses Zend Framework. License is OSL 3.0. Although it uses Zend Framework and MVC which should provide an easier method of customizing the design, the code is overly complex which makes updating and maintenance more tedious, time-consuming and costly.
- Oscommerce - Oscommerce is one of the original open source shopping carts. The latest release is based on PHP 5, MySQL 5. License is GPL. Oscommerce has the most number of contributors. It is one of the easier eCommerce platforms to work with for maintenance (small changes, updates and edits); however, it has a less user friendly design and is more tedious and time consuming to customize the design and branding. Also, feature or design customizations or changes would require hiring a developer since there is no direct support from Oscommerce.
- Zen Cart - Zen Cart is a spin off from Oscommerce. The latest release is based on PHP 5, MySQL 5. License is GPL. It is one of the easier eCommerce platforms to install and manage. It has some design templates which provide a quicker way to put up a shopping cart. However, feature or design customizations or changes would require hiring a developer since there is no direct support from Zen Cart.
Low-end Commercial or Open Source eCommerce Platforms
Low-end Commercial or Open Source Shopping Cart Applications are more tailored for small online retailers that are looking for a basic shopping cart, do not require customizations and do not anticipate growth in the near future.
Here are some of the disadvantages of the low-end commercial or open source shopping carts:
- Not Scalable - cannot handle a large inventory, new options and traffic growth
- Not easy to customize, add functionality and make updates
- Very little design or branding flexibility
- Security vulnerability issues
- No support provided
- Limited or no Warranty
- A possibility of the developer abandoning the development
Cost: There is no licensing cost for the Open Source eCommerce Platforms. The cost for the Low-End Commercial Shopping Carts vary from one company to another ranging from approx. $50 - $500 (one time licensing fee).
Hosted eCommerce Platforms
Hosted eCommerce Platforms are more tailored for small online retailers that do not require control over the source code and operations of their eCommerce application; design and branding; and do not anticipate growth in the near future.
Here are some of the disadvantages of a Hosted Shopping Cart:
- Hosted eCommerce Platforms do not provide access to the source code
- The shopping cart application is usually served by the provider on a shared hosting environment
- The customer does not have any control over the hosting provider
- Usually, there is no option for a dedicated server solution, so there is no room for the site's traffic growth beyond the capability of shared hosting
- A site with a substantial inventory and complex accessory (sub-category) options will run very slowly on a Hosted Shopping Cart system and shared hosting environment
Cost: The cost for Hosted eCommerce Platforms vary from one company to another. The cost is usually based on a monthly rate and ranges from approx. $29 per month to $249 per month depending on the features and limited support provided (if any!).
Research for this article was completed July 5, 2010; pricing and other information may change.
Bernard Kohan is a mobile app and web application development and technology analyst expert. He is available to discuss any issues or questions you have about web development and the best choices for your company or project.
Bernard can be reached at
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