Conveying just a few of our observations about ecommerce over the last twenty years.
Over the years, several clients have come to Raw Data asking if we can help with an existing ecommerce solution or build one for them. In the beginning, we built many custom ecommerce apps before ones we now hear about all the time, like BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce on WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and others, even existed. Yes, we’ve been around for a while.
We noticed that building a site even with a “free” solution like WordPress had extraordinary costs associated with it, because no matter how small the business was, the complexity of the requirements were often comparable to that of a mid-market multi-million dollar company. We often advised these scrappy entrepreneurs to get their marketing and SEO budget in place before building a store. Because building a store doesn’t automatically alert people that it exists.
These impressive visionaries often had to wait a long time to see returns on their investment. Sometimes they saw no return at all, and this made us at Raw Data very sad.
So we started refusing to build or configure ecommerce solutions unless the client had a budget that wasn’t reliant on taking out a second mortgage, already had an existing online store and/or brick and mortar store, or already had some kind of large online following that would be interested in products sold through the new ecommerce solution.
We noticed that during this period when we stepped back from ecommerce solutions, new ecommerce apps began to mature and come to market. One of them is BigCommerce.
We’re excited about BigCommerce, but to understand why, we thought we’d compare it to Magento with some side-eye about WordPress because why not.
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform written in PHP. So that makes it a lot like WordPress except that Magento has to be run on internal servers. Up until recently it wasn’t a SaaS solution or rather it wasn’t built in the cloud. It’s owned by Adobe. Considering the many ways Adobe has ruined their design apps (another conversation entirely), we are hard-pressed to believe that being owned by Adobe improves Magento in any way.
Magento has recently reinvented itself as SaaS but is it a true solution like BigCommerce? Here is a comparison.
Like WordPress, when Magento comes out with patches and updates, you need to load them. If you don’t load them, your site will become vulnerable to hackers.
With BigCommerce, upgrades and patches are automatic so you’re always on the latest version and have no downtime with each upgrade. You don’t have to remember to do anything to keep your site safe and secure.
The more you customize Magento, the hard it is to maintain. Customization could also affect your being able to load new patches. We’ve also seen this issue with WordPress.
When BigCommerce rolls out new features, merchants decide whether they want them or not, and they won’t interfere with an individual store’s configuration. With BigCommerce’s automatic updates, merchants don’t have to pay for ongoing maintenance costs, and can focus on innovation or growing their business.
Raw Data has been forced for example to put their WordPress clients, with or without an ecommerce store, on a maintenance plan. Any fully open source website should be on a similar plan, because business owners are usually more concerned with running their business and not as concerned about whether their website has been updated. The next thing they know, their site has been turned into a zombie site that is suddenly looking like a bank, luring users to unwittingly enter online banking login info, and now the business has exposed itself to serious liability issues (Raw Data has seen this happen, true story).
Costs can vary greatly on Magento: Paying for infrastructure, development, hosting and maintenance adds up. To make matters worse, a merchant can become very reliant on developers like Raw Data.
At Raw Data, one of our primary directives is to enable our clients to be as autonomous as possible. We started out in 1999 with building custom CMS apps before there was a term for it, just so we didn’t have to perform basic website updates for our clients. Therefore you won’t ever see us supporting Magento, unless it is with the ultimate aim of getting the merchant off Magento.
BigCommerce has a drag-and-drop Page Builder available on all plans, which is not something merchants would get on Magento.
With BigCommerce, they include hosting without any bandwidth caps or limits. They’re more transparent.
Raw Data is a BigCommerce partner.