Explanation of terms
Before we begin comparing the platform options, a basic understanding of some of the terms we’ll use will be helpful:
- Ecommerce is the functionality of a website allowing products to be purchased online, and paid for using methods such as credit / debit cards.
- Hosted means that the company offering the software hosts it for us (makes it live on the internet), making sites much faster to set up. In other words, the website stays where we make it; online. However, this comes with a monthly cost.
The alternative is self-hosted, where we purchase hosting and manage the website software.
- Open-source is software that we can download and keep as long as we want without needing to be paid for. While it allows for more customisation and flexibility, it requires more expertise to set up and requires us to purchase hosting for it.
- Content management systems (CMSs) are open-source software that can be used to build all sorts of websites, from small to huge. They are very flexible, but require significant expertise to set up.
All of the platforms below will allow you (or your staff) to log into the finished website to manage products, orders, webpage content, etc.
Option 1: Drupal
- Drupal is incredibly secure and flexible; used by institutions like banks, universities, and governmental departments
- Drupal is complex, and there are not that many developers in Cape Town who have expertise in it (it's far more popular in Europe and N. America).
- Websites we build in Drupal start at R20k
- These typically take 3 to 8 weeks
Option 2: WordPress
- WordPress is more popular than Drupal, so there are many developers who could work on the site
- WordPress becomes more difficult to use when you add custom functionality like events
- Websites we build in WordPress start at R18k
- These typically take 3 to 7 weeks
Option 3: Webflow
- Webflow is a hybrid of site-builders; it's something between a point-and-click builder like SquareSpace and a CMS like Drupal and WordPress
- It allows us to build a site much faster than Drupal / WordPress
- It has a simple built-in CMS for things like Blog posts and Events (for your team to log in and edit them without needing us)
- It doesn't have a big community of "plugins" for advanced functionality (eg. ecommerce), but that doesn't appear to be needed for your site
- Our own website and OMS are two examples of sites we've recently built in Webflow (most of the others in our Portfolio are Drupal or WordPress)
- Websites we build in Webflow start at R8k
- These typically take 2 - 15 days
Shopify (or BigCommerce or Volusion)
These 3 platforms are all hosted ecommerce platforms. They’re all slick and easy-to use, and they take care of updates and backups automatically. One of the downsides of these is that some advanced features will not be feasible to add. Shopify is the most popular platform by far.
All three have a monthly cost starting at $30 pm.
Shopify has a per-transaction fee of 2.0% (or less on more expensive packages). BigCommerce and Volusion don’t have this.
Websites we build in Shopify start at R15k
Magento and PrestaShop
These are both e-commerce platforms that have both an open-source version (that we can download and use), and a hosted option. Magento is known to be very powerful and flexible, but difficult to use. PrestaShop is easy to use and has most commonly-used features.
PresaShop (hosted version) costs €20 pm.
Magento’s pricing is unclear.
WordPress WooCommerce (or Drupal Commerce)
Drupal and WordPress are two of the world’s best CMSs, allowing the entire website to be customised and tailored to your business, beyond simply selling products. Each webpage can have its own layout and features.
There is no cost to use these CMSs. They will require the purchase of hosting (a small monthly cost) and website maintenance by developers each month.
Websites we build in WooCommerce start at R30k