Ultimate Shopping Cart Review: Shopify, Magento, ZenCart, BigCommerce, NopCommerce

UPDATED REVIEW HERE: BigCommerce 2012, Shopify 2012 & Magento 2012

By late April 2010, I found out that BigCommerce is the best e-commerce software platform so far. This conclusion is based on my own comprehensive review and testing. In fact, my new version of my product sales website Digital Temperature Gauges is going to be on Bigcommerce. Previously I had experimented with other platforms such as ZenCart, Shopify, NopCommerce and Magento. Therefore, I understand the advantages and disadvantages each offers more deeply. So here is a review of how each software application is different and how each one is better than the other.

What Makes A Platform Better than the Other

When I say BigCommerce is the best platform, it’s because I’ve found out that there are some factors and features that make it better than others. Being a professional SEO technician and conversion optimizer, I always look for a platform that can maximize my bottom line. Features that might help in doing so are:

Shopping Cart Review
Shopping Cart Review
  • Checkout process must be easy and simple
  • Customization of Tags, Title tags, Meta tags, page titles, etc. for SEO
  • Basic templates for design
  • Strong backend store
  • Comprehensive reports
  • Third party integration
  • Pricing
  • Support

BigCommerce: Why I find it to be the best

As I said earlier, BigCommerce is one e-commerce application that I found to be the best of all. This is because it offers some outstanding features along with right pricing. These features include:

  • Integration with third party sites such as Google website Optimizer and Google Analytics
  • Great SEO
  • Easy to customize tags, titles and meta tags
  • Awesome internal navigation
  • One page simple checkout
  • Good photo displays with zooming option
  • Connectivity with Ebay and Facebook
  • Automated and flexible inventory control
  • Coupons, discount banners and gift certificates
  • Easily customizable default designs
  • Fully hosted solution without any worries about SSL or other IT annoyances
  • Full CMS-no need to buy HTML/CSS/JavaScript/PHP
  • Import and export of multiple products at a time
  • Accounting system that can sync with Quickbooks, MYOB, Peachtree, etc.
  • Shipping is also easy and simple
  • Full business intelligence and performance
  • Great search functionality such as related search and advance search, pricing, etc.

There was one disadvantage through, and that was that BigCommerce’s Texas based office is not as on point as their Australian based office. Aside from that, everything else was just too good to be true.

Although Shopify is the closest contender of BigCommerce, Bigcommerce really offers deals that are better in terms of price. Though the lowest priced deal on both platforms costs the same, Shopify charges 2% of revenue per month at this pricing level.

Shopify: Another Great Software

Shopify is another good software that I have tried during my e-commerce ventures. I used to be a great fan of Shopify, but now BigCommerce had taken that place. However Shopify still does have great features, which include:

  • Hosting is abstract
  • Automatic updating of new software
  • Setup is quite simple
  • Default templates
  • Discount codes
  • Good support

Yet, the problems I identified in this software were:

  • They have their own programming language called Liquid, so you need to use that for title and tags
  • 2% of revenue share is not a good way to go for low margin stores

ZenCart: Free but difficult

ZenCart is a more established name in e-commerce. It is free to download. I used it for the older version of Digital Auto Gauge websites. It is kind of outdated now, and I don’t like it personally, so won’t recommend it either. Still some features and benefits are:

  • It is free to use
  • Good to start learning but making profit would be difficult

As for its problems:

  • You will have to take care of the hosting yourself
  • You have to set up SSL yourself
  • Payment is through third parties
  • Poor documentation
  • Checkout process requires to go through several pages
  • Accounting system is not integrated
  • SEO also requires a lot of time
  • Designing requires a lot of effort and time as well

Magento: Good but not good enough

There are two versions of the Magento shopping cart platform- one is the free community version and the second is a paid one. I’ll be reviewing the free one here.

Its benefits include:

  • Multi-store capabilities
  • Quick bug fixes and updates

Yet community version users might experience following problems:

  • Support is not good enough
  • They constantly tell you to sign up for enterprise version
  • Import/export is not easy

NopCommerce: A Shopping cart that is open source and ASP.Net based

Among the open source shopping carts, this one is the best one available. The setup is easy and customization is faster.

Some of the great features I found in this one are:

  • Ease of Deployment
  • Integration of live Chat
  • Text messages on sales and contacts
  • Reporting is good
  • It’s open source and it’s free
  • It also has its built-in forum

Some problems:

  • Support is weak
  • Self Hosting
  • Some bugs need to be fixed
  • Microsoft licensing is required

The results are in: BigCommerce definitely tops the list of best shopping cart platform

I have also researched other shopping cart platforms such as goEmerchant, Fortune3, Corecommerce, Yahoo! Merchant, ProStores, Godaddy Quick Shopping Cart, goEcart, genXpros and Volusion. None of these fall close to any of the above reviewed ones. You can check the above reviewed software yourself. However, BigCommerce is the one that requires to be seriously considered.

I hope that I have made your job easier by this comprehensive review here. But if you still have any kind of question regarding shopping carts and online store building, feel free to ask a question in the comment section.

Published by

Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

8 thoughts on “Ultimate Shopping Cart Review: Shopify, Magento, ZenCart, BigCommerce, NopCommerce”

  1. Ok, it’s been a while. Are you still a BigCommerce fan? I’m looking to do my first eComm project, and would like to know how you are getting along some time later.

  2. Just to follow, up if you do a single thing relating to firearms, they want nothing to do with you, unless you are selling ammunition. so… an injection molded plastic grip = no, but something that explodes if you hit it in the right place = yes. Major drawback: once they have your email address, you can’t get rid of them. non. stop. spam.

  3. The above mentioned shopping carts are great in terms of their unique functionality. There are few cart are not very popular but they are very good with respect the above list. As an example iqecommerce is very good because -Instant setup. No software to install. Upload your products and start selling! I am loving it ! Anyway, Thanks for sharing a great list with us.

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  7. It’s been a while since you reviewed a nopCommerce. Now it has more features and also have professional support services available apart from numbers of professional development company offering services on it. Moreover, it can be now deployed with few clicks on Windows Cloud Computing platform – Windows Azure.. and soon it will have more features.

    We have just published an article on nopCommerce 3.0 Review focusing on Multi Store & Multi Vendor, I welcome you to write your review about same at http://www.nopaccelerate.com/nopcommerce-3-0-multi-store-and-multi-vendor-review/

    Thanks for sharing this great article with us.

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