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E-commerce in 2022

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E-commerce in 2022 has become a necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic which started in 2020. Before that year, e-commerce was somewhat of a luxury for some retail businesses with physical stores or for some individuals wishing to sell their products. Nowadays, anyone can create an e-commerce website and sell products worldwide. Of course, there’s a variety of platforms for creating such websites. Often you will hear people say “WordPress is better than Drupal or Magento is better than WooCommerce”. The reality however is that all platforms are giving the same results. Someone might be more familiarised with WordPress than Drupal or vice versa. Our opinion is to choose whatever you feel comfortable working with. There are pros and cons to each platform and we will briefly explain them in this article.

 

 

WordPress/WooCommerce  E-commerce WordPress

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content management system) in the world at the moment. It started back in 2003 as a blog publishing system. It involved over the years to an advanced content management system that supported themes, plugins and more. Currently, around 40% of the whole worldwide web consist of WordPress websites. When it comes to e-commerce, this is where WooCommerce comes into place. WooCommerce is a plugin that started in 2011 and effectively adds e-commerce functionality to WordPress. Functionalities such as cart system, checkout, customer authentications, coupon codes and more. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of using WooCommerce in 2022:

 

PROS:

  • It’s completely FREE
  • You have full ownership of your website when using WordPress
  • Tons of plugins can be used in combination with WooCommerce to support discount rules, tax calculations and more
  • There are thousands of FREE themes and plugins to choose from
  • Most paid plugins are paid yearly
  • Highly customisable

 

CONS:

  • Since WordPress core code is quite old, there might be some obsolete technologies
  • Some plugins are not well maintained
  • Can be quite slow without any caching plugins

 

 

Shopify E-commerce Shopify

Shopify was founded in 2006 and has changed quite dramatically since then. Unlike WordPress, Shopify is exclusively built for creating e-commerce websites. It’s extremely easy to set up with a very intuitive UI (User Interface) and a ton of plugins to support extra functionalities. It is user-friendly for both business and end-users. However, there’s a catch. Since Shopify effectively provides and hosts its platform to you, you have no ownership of your website. If Shopify company decides that your products are not complying with their terms of service, they can shut you down anytime they like. Although it’s a rare scenario, it may happen. Here’s a list of pros and cons when using Shopify in 2022:

 

PROS:

  • Extremely intuitive and easy to setup
  • Very user friendly and has a lot of FREE plugins
  • Considered to be a bit more upscale than WooCommerce
  • Easy to connect with plugins for drop-shipping purposes.
  • Quite fast without extra developer efforts

 

CONS:

  • There’s a standard $30/mo fee for hosting your Shopify site
  • Most paid plugins are paid monthly which can add up a lot of costs
  • You don’t have complete ownership of your site. Although rare, Shopify can shut your site down

 

 

Magento  E-commerce Magento

Magento was initially released in 2008. It is considered one of the most “professional” and “enterprise” e-commerce platforms. It had its ups and downs when it was initially launched, however, in 2015 it was updated to Magento 2 tackling a lot of issues and adding tons of enhancements to its platform. In 2018 it was acquired by Adobe and more features and extensions have been added since then. Below you can find a list of the pros and cons of using Magento in 2022

 

PROS:

  • Highly customisable
  • Intuitive admin panel
  • Variety of paid & FREE extensions to add more functionalities
  • Can be quite fast without extra caching tools
  • Excellent for enterprise and high-end projects

 

CONS:

  • Whilst to download it is FREE, using it for commercial purposes will require a license which can be very expensive
  • Requires a skilled developer to ensure it is set up properly
  • Can be confusing for some

 

There are other technologies too for supporting e-commerce. Drupal-commerce and BigCommerce are good examples. However, we won’t be expanding more on them in this article. As mentioned before, all platforms can give the same results and all platforms have their pros and cons. Choose wisely.

E-commerce Drupal E-commerce BigCommerce

 

 

Shift to Headless CMS and Headless E-commerce

So what is “Headless”? All platforms mentioned so far are using the backend and the front-end in one place. It is called monolithic. We have the front-end, which is what the user sees and the backend, which stores the database, the plugins and the admin panel. All in one place. Even if this is technically “convenient”, it causes many performance issues. If the admin panel requires to use a specific technology that the front-end might not need to, this technology will run regardless in both places causing performance issues. The site will slow down. Another big issue using the monolithic way: If you have many visitors at the same time, it will cause an overload, requiring you to have more server power and potentially break your site. This is due to the fact that a lot of users are visiting your front-end and back-end at the same time without the need to do so. It can also add extra/unnecessary costs in case you need to upgrade your hosting.

Now “Headless” comes into place. Headless is pretty much separating the front-end from the back-end. Doing so lifts the heavyweight backend from the front-end and as a result performance is about 10x faster. There won’t be any unused code or technology on the front-end and this will inevitably deliver a better user experience for the end-user. It also allows the flexibility of using more modern technologies by the developer. Most modern websites such as asos.com are using headless CMS. If users visit your website and loads in less than a second, they are more likely to remain and explore more of it. Oftentimes users have to wait unnecessarily for all resources to load when accessing a website that uses monolithic CMS.

So how does this work? The backend provides an API (REST API) for the front-end to be able to access its data and display them. Think of it as two separate entities with one middle man. Of course, using headless CMS will require you to have two domains. You can either have your main domain and a subdomain or two completely different ones.

headless CMS - E-commerce

Our recommended approach is to have a subdomain for the backend and keep the main domain for the front-end. E.g www.mydomain.com as the front-end, admin.mydomain.com for the backend. Below you can see a screenshot of how the asos.com domain is using headless CMS.

Front-end: asos FE Back-end:  asos BE

 

Here’s a list of pros and cons when using headless CMS:

PROS:

  • Extremely/blazing fast user experience
  • Easy to organise
  • Re-usable once initially developed
  • Can be a lot cheaper on the server-side of things as it liberates it from unwanted technologies that some CMSs require
  • Can be easily transformed into a mobile app
  • Better for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as the performance is enhanced by default

 

CONS:

  • It requires a skilled developer to set it up
  • Can be expensive as some core features might need to be re-developed
  • Bad for smaller projects as it is an overkill

 

 

Strapi is another CMS that prides itself in being the best headless CMS that exists in 2022. It was also recently updated to v4, which elevated its experience. It gives full developer flexibilities and a very intuitive, user-friendly admin panel for the business user. However, its community is not as big as all the other older platforms due to being very new to the market. It still lacks a lot of out of the box functionalities that older CMSs provide already.

strapi

 

Conclusion

As most mainstream CMS platforms nowadays support the headless approach, we also recommend using this technique for larger projects. We would prefer using headless WordPress than Strapi as of 2022 as it provides many out-of-the-box & much-needed features for a fully functional e-commerce experience. Everyone can make their own decision in choosing the right platform for selling their products, however, based on our experience and taking everything into account, we acknowledged that things might change but concluded that headless WordPress/WooCommerce is the way to go in 2022.

References:

  • WordPress
  • Shopify
  • Strapi
  • WooCommerce
  • BigCommerce
  • Magento
  • Drupal
  • Asos
  • Author:
    Seamless Digital

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