What is an open source e-commerce platform

Which is the best e-commerce shop system?

In this article we compare the most popular e-commerce shop systems and show which systems are best suited for which projects.

You probably already know that e-commerce is becoming increasingly important and has a major impact on retail and business in general. In fact, new studies from England show that the share of internet sales has reached 30%.

Office for National Statistics (ONS): Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales (ratio) (%)

Do you also see this change from offline to online in your industry? The good news is: the e-commerce shop systems have gotten much better in recent years and a very good shop can be developed more easily and quickly.

Before we show the list with the best shop systems, here is an overview of all tools from a bird's eye view.

What types of shop systems are there?

There are four categories of e-commerce platforms that companies address in the various phases of digital transformation. A classification can first be made according to sales and development effort.


1.) Web-based tools
With web-based shop builders, online shops can be developed quickly and easily. On the other hand, these are not very customizable and can hardly be further developed.
Shop systems: Shopify, Wix Commerce, Big Commerce, Squarespace

2.) Open Source Shop Systems
These shop systems can be adapted to individual needs and can be hosted on your own server. These shops offer a lot of features and are a good introduction to the professional world of e-commerce. Shop systems: WooCommerce, Shopware, Prestashop, Magento, Drupal Commerce, Open Cart

3.) Enterprise Shop Systems
These platforms are suitable for large companies with in-house e-commerce management and development teams. Use is based on a license. Shop systems: Spryker, SAP, Salesforce, Oracle, Elastic Path, commercetools

4.) Custom Shop Development
The largest e-commerce players often rely on custom shops developed in-house. Examples are Zalando, Digitec / Galaxus or Amazon. This requires strong in-house development teams and an engineering culture.

Which are really the best e-commerce systems?

For this comparison we only selected systems that we have already worked with. In particular, these are the open source shop systems. Enterprise shop systems are too big for us and mostly also for our customers. And the web-based tools are not flexible enough for us.

WooCommerce

Brief description: WooCommerce is the WordPress e-commerce solution. Like WordPress, WooCommerce is very popular and has a large community. WooCommerce integrates seamlessly into the WooCommerce ecosystem.

Suitable for / typical customer: WooCommerce is a good solution for companies that already use WordPress and are looking for a simple and quick-to-implement shop solution that can be seamlessly integrated into the WordPress environment and allows for strong integration of content and worlds of experience.

Strengthen:

  • Seamless integration into the WordPress ecosystem
  • Stable software with a huge community
  • Flexible and rapid development

Weaknesses:

  • Limitations in the omnichannel area.
  • No own ERP solution available and limitations e.g. with different warehouses in different countries. Middleware is required for such requirements.
  • Only limited scalability in terms of complexity / feature set due to the WordPress core architecture.

Our assessment: We value WordPress and WooCommerce very much and would like to use the tool more often. Due to the limitations in the omnichannel and warehouse / ERP area, it is not a solution for all cases. In addition, WooCommcer is only limited in the flexibility of further development. If the feature set and the requirements for the shop match the feature set from WooCommerce, we can definitely recommend the tool.

Dream Production Score: Double thumbs up

Shopware

Brief description: Shopware is an open source shop solution from Germany and is very well adapted to the DACH market. The new major version 6 is built on a new tech stack and is growing very rapidly.

Suitable for / typical customer: Shopware is suitable for online shops with an annual turnover between 100,000 CHF and 100 million in a multichannel and international environment. Thanks to the API first architecture, Shopware can be easily integrated as a headless shop in a multi-layered system landscape.

Strengthen:

  • Shop system with many innovative features such as the rule builder and its own ERP solution
  • Modern technology with a future-oriented API first architecture for easy integration of peripheral systems
  • Easy to set up and efficient in creating new shops

Weaknesses:

  • Shopware 6 was launched in December 2019 and is still in further development. Individual features or modules cannot yet be ported from Shopware 5.
  • Focus on the DACH / Europe market. Less focus on North and Latin America.

Mention in specialist studies: Gartner Digital Commerce, Niche Player

Our assessment: Shopware 6 is our tool of choice for medium-sized shops. The tool was created by experienced shop professionals with the aim of an internationally scalable shop solution, the feature set is impressive and the architecture below is modern and scalable. Thanks to the modern technological stack, the API first approach, adjustments and further developments can be implemented well.

Dream Production Score: Double thumbs up

Drupal 9 Commerce

Brief description: Drupal Commerce is the e-commerce solution from Drupal. Drupal Commerce integrates seamlessly into the Drupal Ecosystem.

Suitable for / typical customer: Drupal Commerce is a good solution for companies that already use Drupal and are looking for a simple and a shop solution that can be seamlessly integrated into the Drupal environment.

Strengthen:

  • Seamless integration into the Drupal ecosystem
  • Flexible toolset with a very wide range of possible uses.
  • Drupal supports connections and integrations of peripheral systems very well.

Weaknesses:

  • Not a pure shop system and rather few out-of-the-box features compared to other shopping carts.
  • Backend offers fewer features than other e-commerce systems
  • Few standard configurations available for a quick start.

Our assessment: Drupal Commerce is a good solution for shops within the Drupal ecosystem. Due to the extreme flexibility of Drupal, the system can be further developed almost at will. For stand-alone shops, Drupal Commerce offers too few out-of-the-box features to be able to compete with other tools.

Dream Production Score: Thumbs up

Prestashop

Brief description: Prestashop is a popular open source shop solution based on PHP with an international community.

Suitable for / typical customer: Presashop is a good solution for online shops with annual sales between CHF 50,000 and CHF 10 million. Prestashop is free and the international community provides many plugins for the rapid implementation of e-commerce shops.

Strengthen:

  • Easy and quick set-up
  • Good feature set
  • Lean codebase

Weaknesses:

  • With Shopware there is another product on the market that offers the same advantages as Prestashop with a wider feature set and modern architecture.
  • Other shop systems grow faster and are more clearly positioned on the market.

Our assessment: Prestashop is actually OK but offers less than Shopware: fewer features, a less elegant backend and fewer advantages. So actually a good shop system but not (anymore) our first choice.

Dream Production Score: not up not down.

Magento

Brief description: Magento is one of the most popular open source e-commerce solutions. After several changes of ownership, Magento has been part of Adobe since 2018. The current version is Magento 2.

Suitable for / typical customer: Magento is a solution for large shops with annual sales between CHF 100,000 and CHF 100 million. Suitable for customers who have a sufficiently large budget for development, further development and maintenance.

Strengthen:

  • Large market share and therefore great future security
  • Large community with many modules and features.
  • Global solution with a global partner network

Weaknesses:

  • Difficult and time-consuming development
  • Partly unintuitive operation
  • Many developers don't like Magento, so it is difficult to find good teams.

Mention in specialist studies: Gartner Digital Commerce, Leader IDC B2B Digital Platform Commcer, Leader

Our assessment: Our development teams have clearly spoken out against Magento. Because of the monolithic architecture and laborious development. That is why Magento is out of the question for us as a shop system.

Dream Production Score: Thumbs down

Shopify

Brief description: Shopify is the most popular web-based shop system. With just a few clicks, a simple, beautiful and functional shop can be created.

Suitable for / typical customer: Shopify is a good solution for companies that want to launch a shop quickly and easily without having to worry about software and development. Rapid and inexpensive implementation is more important than flexibility, further development and scaling.

Strengthen:

  • Quick, easy and inexpensive implementation of shops
  • Lots of apps in the app store
  • Nice themes

Weaknesses:

  • Inflexible in further development
  • Few or no B2B features
  • Not open source and no control over the codebase

Mention in specialist studies: Gartner Digital Commerce, Challenger

Our assessment: Shopify is a good solution for a quick entry into e-commerce and for a first test balloon in the matter of e-commerce business. We're not sure how the system will scale for shops with annual sales over CHF 1 million. In general we prefer open source technologies where we have control over the codebase.

Dream Production Score: Thumbs up