There are two upcoming eCommerce platforms that I’ve been closely watching development of, and you should be too. Their names are Magento and StoreSuite Shopping Cart Software. Both are currently in development, and not available for download yet. There is a major difference between the two, Magento is a free open-source solution while StoreSuite will have to be purchased. There are obviously pros and cons to each option, some of those being the following:
- Open source allows it to be further enhanced by the community
- Open source is free
- A paid solution comes with personalized technical support, therefore more likely being a more stable solution
Both solutions look very promising as possible options to replace my open source osCommerce solution that I’m running on ActiveTuning. Both StoreSuite and Magento have blogs where you can actively track the latest updates, screencasts, sneak peeks, and news. You can even post your feedback to help point the development in the right direction:
User feedback and company experience has been critical to the development of both applications! Magento has been in development since April, and StoreSuite since July. Since Magento has been in the works for a while longer, there is normally a ton of comments on each blog post they make with opinions, suggestions, feedback, and more. Magento is built by a company named Varien, which is a web development/design firm based out of Los Angeles. The benefit of this is they have a ton of experience in development, a team of good people, and they are also designers. This is great because it seems like other platforms are built be people that only develop, but can’t design. StoreSuite also has a strong background. It is built by a software development firm by the name of Interspire based out of Australia. They’ve built a few different successful online applications and sold millions of dollars worth of them.
I’m not sure yet when we can expect StoreSuite, but Magento will be releasing a beta 1 (preview) any day now (promised by August 31st). Since neither have a version yet for download, I have to base my opinions on what is posted on their sites and blogs.
From initial opinion, StoreSuite looks to be a great install and use right out of the box solution. Mitch created a real-time drag and drop “design mode” which allows you to make all of your design changes through the actual site interface. The best way to explain this is to have you watch the screencast. This is great for people that don’t want to get down and dirty in code just to make simple design changes. StoreSuite also promises a lot of features which help cross-promote markets and generate more sales, such as a smart list of recommended products in a customers shopping cart.
Magento is the eCommerce platform I’m the most excited about to be honest. It looks to be a very very powerful solution with a great team backing it. There are a plethora of features, with a roadmap that gets better and better all the way through Q1 2008. Varien is ensuring to build this with all around goodness, from a powerful backend powered by Zend, to a slick design/easy to use interface, to the highest SEO optimizations and standards. There are so many details that they looked at and are offering solutions for, that you really need to go to their blog and read through all of the posts and feedback to get the best idea of what you can expect. One of the cool features I like is the ability to have a category be a landing page, where you can make it anything you want. This essentially allows you to break out of the eCommerce platform and build the look and feel how you want it.
As I mentioned before, we can expect to see a Magento preview any day now…which I will then make another post with my comments and opinions. I’ll be installing a copy of StoreSuite when it comes out as well, so look for further opinions in the near future. In the meantime, check out the websites for both companies, read their blogs, subscribe to their RSS feeds, and let me know your opinions!