Easily one of the most crucial decisions you can make when establishing an e-commerce business, your software choice can either be a springboard to growth or an Achilles heel. Choosing between the two primary contestants in this arena; open source vs. Proprietary platforms, often comes to down to one key question; which is better for growing your brand?
Before you choose, consider the following:
1. User Friendliness
Most proprietary software gives your team the ability to create product descriptions, upload images, edit copy and integrate customer features quite easily. In most cases, these functionalities are built right in. This means your team can effect changes with few technical skills.
Meanwhile, most open source software requires some coding knowledge to incorporate additional capabilities. This means you’ll need a developer to tweak the platform to accomplish tasks such as advanced analytics, track social campaigns, generate discount codes and the like. This can add cost and inhibit your agility.
2. Security Protocols
Hardly a month goes by free of news of yet another breach exposing customer’s financial data. For this reason, it is imperative to select a PCI-DSS compliant ecommerce platform. Comparing the leading providers in each category, Magento Enterprise vs Shopify Plus (the former is open source, while the latter is proprietary), you’ll find both have this capability.
However, because Magento is a self-hosted platform, you must ensure the confidentiality of data on your server yourself. Conversely, Shopify Plus provides hosting and is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, which is the same protocol adhered to by banks. To get Magento to perform similarly, you have to customize its security requirements, which entails additional expense. Further, Magento’s open source nature makes it more vulnerable to hackers because its code is open for all to see.
3. SEO Concerns
With nearly half of all e-commerce transactions precipitated by an online search, ready support for SEO is inherent to the growth of your business. Happily, the two major platforms were built with this in mind. Both Shopify Plus and Magento Enterprise support independent links, page titles, meta descriptions and H1 headings. However, if you’re migrating to Shopify Plus from a different platform, Shopify Traffic Control App helps you redirect your current traffic with minimal compromise to your existing SEO rankings.
4. Shipping Operations
Fulfillment is another key aspect of every ecommerce business. This means your platform choice must provide easy compatibility with of the carriers’ with whom you’ll do business. Using apps, Magento Enterprise can achieve compatibility with all of the big guys, including UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL. Shopify Plus has defaults built in for the Postal Service, FedEx and UPS—but it requires an app to integrate with DHL.
5. Product Support
With more than 200,000 global users, Magento Enterprise has a huge following. This means lots of forums, user groups and developers are dedicated to the platform. In the true spirit of open source, they freely share information with one another and provide support. Shopify Plus is a closed ecosystem. However, it too has an extensive user base, lots of forums and a dedicated product support team available 24/7-365 to help solve problems.
As for the question of open source vs proprietary e-commerce platforms and which is better for growing your brand; open source provides lots of flexibility, where proprietary tends to be a bit more rigidly structured. However, along with that structure comes greater ease of use and better security.
Open source can be good if you have coding capability within your organization and you have a broad window of time within which you can be up and running. But if you’re trying to minimize those two factors, proprietary software will likely be a better choice when it comes to growing your brand.
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