From Magento into WooCommerce, part 1

Every 3 years I conduct a significant review of my ecommerce websites. This is typically greater than my yearly inspection; what’s under consideration. In previous big reviews I’ve changed design and even altered platforms — heading for bigger and better packs. Currently I’m using Magento, using its multisite option, to conduct all of my websites.

I do these significant reviews as it’s very important to stay ahead and maintain my websites current. I emphasize fundamentals. I look at my basic requirements and see if they’ve changed and if Magento is still the best fit for my needs. I also seem to see what difficulties Magento brings and what compromises I need to assume.

I originally selected Magento since I had the following requirements.

  • Single backend administration running four different internet stores on different URLs.
  • Single merchant account that allowed collection of credit card payments from each of the shops.
  • Single IP address, and so one SSL certificate.
  • Ability to perform layered navigation, to better record my complicated product range.
  • Good alternatives for search engine optimization.
  • A nice support network.
  • Availability of great extensions.
  • A cart which was still being improved and developed.

Through time my merchandise range has changed. Additionally, the rate of change of these products has doubled. With Magento, it takes too long to make goods. Thus, it takes substantial man time to maintain the websites current.

In the years since I started using Magento, I also have started selling on other stations, such as Ebay and four Amazon shops. To do so, I’ve moved inventory management and order management into one cloud application, Linnworks. It is but one of several order management providers. However, it’s my taste and it now suits me nicely. Using a central order management system means that I need the single backend administration.

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An increasing trend on my websites has been that customers pay with PayPal and Checkout from Amazon, as opposed to credit cards. I conducted several polls and tested various checkout situations. All results came to the identical conclusion: My clients tend to be Internet savvy, use Ebay for buying and selling collectibles, and are idle.

They chose to use a voucher method which didn’t rely on them having to type in their credit card details each time. Hencethey pick Checkout by Amazon or PayPal. It came to the point that less than 5% of my requests used my own merchant account. The rising costs of PCI compliance, the expanding bureaucracy connected with PCI, as well as the several charges that appeared in my merchant account announcement meant that it was actually costing me more to accumulate this money compared to the estimated loss of gain when I dropped the card processing.

So I shut my Internet merchant account.

For a while now it was possible to install several SSL certificates for different domains which all share one IP address. This can be done using Server Name Indication (SNI). With the passing of Windows XP, the percent of my customers using old browsers which don’t support SNI is near zero. So I no longer have to route all of my checkouts via one Magento checkout. I am able to let each Magento shop have its own SSL certificate and have one IP address.

Further Google has begun to say it will provide ranking preference to sites that operate completely under SSL encryption. With SNI, I will do so and still have one IP address and thus one cPanel hosting plan.

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Assessing the visitor navigation through my website, I’ve determined that the layered navigation is overly intricate. It’s not kept up with my changing product range and has to be radically trimmed.

Taking all things into account, Magento is no longer a good match for my needs. It has many, many features. But most I don’t need.

So I’m now considering moving to another cart. By means of testing, I have chosen to split off a little portion of my inventory and establish a new website.

I’ve always been critical of WooCommerce since it’s an ecommerce extension to WordPress, a blogging solution. But I have not actually tried WooCommerce. But many others have tried it successfully. Additionally, it claims to have links to Linnworks and Ebay — both of which I desire. So I will set up this new website in WooCommerce and see how it goes. If it fails, I shall then attempt OpenCart.

In my next post, I will report on my experiences with WooCommerce.

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