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12 April 2023 (14:45)

How to decide on online shop software?

How to decide on online shop software?

We have been observing a turbulent period of growth in the e-commerce market. This is due to the increasing popularity of remote working. Just as we work from home… so we buy more and more from home, online. As a result, online shops pop up around every corner. Success in this market is not easy – the winner is the one who best responds to the needs of the customer and thinks through the “operation” of the e-store by the employees well. Which shop software should I choose to give myself a chance to succeed?

Many people who have previously sold via marketplace platforms or sites such as: Allegro, Amazon or E-bay, are considering setting up their own online shop. On the one hand, this would get rid of the commissions charged by the above services, but on the other it generates new problems to be solved, such as:

  • which hosting to choose,
  • integration with online payments,
  • integration with postal services, couriers,
  • whether to choose an off-the-shelf shop and pay a subscription for a ready-made platform,
  • or to choose an agency to customise one of the available shop platforms.

Why online shop software?

When analysing tailor-made solutions, the shop can be personalised in terms of layout and UX requirements. Existing procedures in the stationary shop can also be reflected, so that employees will find it intuitive and easy to operate the online shop.

Remember, an online shop is not only what the customer sees and uses, but also – and this is often neglected – how it is operated from the inside. The efficiency of an online shop depends, among other things, on a well-thought-out, automated, intuitive back office, i.e., the software used. This is important because it translates into quality of the target customer service, as well as allowing for significant cost and time optimisation. When setting up an online shop, it is therefore worthwhile – apart from the strictly purchasing part (i.e., convenience, simplicity, intuitiveness of use for the user) – to place very great emphasis on the choice of e-shop software.

In this context, it is worth considering issues such as:

  • import and export of products and stock from and to external systems,
  • integration with invoicing systems,
  • handling returns,
  • support for selected online payment gateways,
  • adjusting the means of goods delivery.

Bottom line: why e-commerce shop software? Well, to make it easy to buy there, but also to make it easy to work there.

What online shop software is available?

However, before we decide to personalise our online shop, we should choose a platform that best meets our needs. Among the available and free open source, we have such software as: WooCommerce, Prestashop or Magento.

The first of these – WooCommerce – is a WordPress plug-in. If one has already had experience with WordPress, one can easily handle WooCommerce. You can also install one of the available themes yourself and customise your shop. For this reason, it is worth recommending it to people who are just setting up their online shop and do not need integration with multiple platforms, nor do they intend to sell many products at the beginning.

The second option is a Prestashop-based shop. It is already a complete shop environment, not just a plug-in for another system like WooCommerce. On the one hand, this option offers more configuration possibilities than the previous platform, on the other hand, it is technically more difficult and will rather require the assistance of a suitable developer. It is a better choice than a shop based on a WordPress platform if you are planning a larger e-shop and can afford the programming support.

The last option I wish to mention is Magento. It is a sophisticated system that can handle really extensive shops with a large number of products. It practically allows for unlimited expansion possibilities. However, to do this, you will need the assistance of a developer. This involves the need for a larger budget than in the case of Prestashop. As a result, it is slightly less affordable in terms of price and service than a Prestashop-based shop. In addition to the free version, Magento also has a paid version, which is even more powerful.

It is worth quoting here an approximate cost of implementing a shop with 1,000 products:

  • Magento 2 – PLN 10,000 – PLN 50,000
  • Prestashop – PLN 5,000 – PLN 20,000
  • WooCommerce – PLN 2,000 – PLN 10,000

On top of this, you would need to add 10% of the above amounts as the monthly cost of shop maintenance (among other things, hosting, maintenance and application development costs).

However, with more products, these costs will increase and the ratio between them may change.

Comparison of online shop software

For each platform, there are a number of free or paid skins (extensions that change the design) and plug-ins that allow you to extend the capabilities of a particular system and customise the appearance. Alternatively, you can create your own graphical design and adapt it to the shop template, or hire a team of developers to completely customise the shop to suit your individual needs.

The above shops differ primarily in terms of user/owner accessibility and purpose (number of products offered vs. content management). Before deciding which platform to choose, it is important to analyse your needs and compare with the possibilities offered by the different systems.

It is worth mentioning, by the way, that there are also available ready-made paid solutions. As part of the subscription, you get access to a prebuilt shop and technical support. This is a good solution if you do not have a high budget to operate the platform. Paid solutions include Shoper, Shopify or Sky-shop software.

Links to platforms:



Author: Michał Bereta

Backend Developer

Michał has 10 years of experience as a PHP programmer, and also works in JavaScript and MySQL. He combines technological knowledge with business ideas.

Editorial: Ewa Nowaczyk-Przybylak
Translation: Paweł Kurpisz
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