King and Swan - which e-commerce will work best for you?

Graphics depicting the online store and logos of Sylius and Magento

The online shopping kingdom is undeniably booming. It is estimated that more than 2.05 billion people will make online purchases in 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this figure may prove to be an underestimate. The online market has maintained an upward trend for many years. According to eMarketer, in 2017 the total value of goods sold online amounted to 10.4% of the total value of global sales ($2.38 trillion!), and in 2020 it will exceed 16%.

In Poland, 62% of Internet users (more than 17 million people) used online shopping in 2019, and according to estimates, the value of the e-commerce market in 2020 could be as high as PLN 70 billion. As you can see, the cake is huge, and many companies would like to sit at the table and pinch a piece for themselves. Joining this sweet, sumptuous feast is easy - just open your own online store. But how do you recognize who's who at the royal ball? Who to talk to so as not to commit an e-commerce faux-pas? And what can grow from a duckling?

King 2.0

‍Inthe salons of e-commerce for many years, Magento has taken the lead. Its origins date back to 2008. In 2015, alongside the first version of the platform appeared its second installment - Magento 2, solving many of the problems of its predecessor in the process. As the data shows, it is now actively used by almost 180,000 sites worldwide (including almost 1,800 in Poland). Magento has been trusted by large international brands such as Nike, Procter & Gamble and Cisco. After its recent acquisition by Adobe, two versions of the system remain on offer: Magento Open Source and Adobe Magento Commerce.

Magento, is a platform designed primarily for retail. Thanks to its ready-to-implement modules, it is very flexible, and its expansion possibilities are basically limited only by your imagination. Extensions provided by authorized partners cover the areas of accounting and finance, customer service, marketing, payments, analytics and reporting, logistics or fullfillment. Magento is developed with a special focus on search engine optimization (SEO), making promotional activities much easier and faster, and access to products in the store easier. Due to the rapid development of mobile platforms and the growth of m-commerce sales, Magento also makes it easier to create a mobile version of the e-store. With the introduction of its own Progressive Web Application (PWA), the transition to mobile sales is very easy. The platform also offers support for multiple sales channels and supports an omnichannel model.

As statistics show, as many as 93% of B2B customers prefer online shopping. Of course, Magento will work well in this channel as well. The platform has powerful tools for controlling permissions and roles, the ability to integrate with external ERP and WMS systems or advanced order management.
Of course, as befits a king, Magento maintenance is expensive. We can opt for the open source version, but this one is devoid of many modules, available out-of-the box in the paid version (including ElasticSearch or B2B modules). Nothing prevents you from adding the missing elements of the system, but the development of new modules is not the easiest thing to do. One reason is the technology debt incurred in the early stages of technology development, which cannot be paid off quickly or cheaply at this point. The paid version is sold on a model that depends on the income of the e-shop. Prices start around $20,000 a year and can go as high as $125,000. In return, of course, we receive technological support and can count on help during the implementation and configuration of the platform.

For whom?

‍Yourfavorite car is a comfortable Mercedes-Benz S-Class and you can't imagine a day at the office without a shirt and tie. You plan to enter the online marketplace with a bang. Your product base is quite sizable (thousands, tens or even hundreds of thousands of indexes). You're not afraid of the relatively high cost of developing and maintaining the application, because you're confident that e-commerce will earn its keep. You want to get a solution in a box, with as many ready-made modules as possible. If the above description reflects you and your approach to business and launching an online business, Magento will be the perfect choice for you.

From duckling to swan

‍In2010, Sylius was a small online store selling cosmetics. It was created and developed by one person. As in a traditional fairy tale, a confluence of events meant that the store could not continue to exist. However, its creator did not give up and did not give up his business. After rewriting bits and pieces and publishing them as standalone modules with an open source license, not so much a new platform was born, but a framework for creating similar platforms. After years of effort, version 1.0 was released in 2017, which has been developed and maintained ever since.

Sylius is a framework that enables the creation of e-commerce solutions. Globally, it is already used by almost a thousand entities. Increasingly larger brands, such as Jägermeister and HBX, are reaching for the platform. Out of the box, it is a ready-made online store and its configuration capabilities, the large number of plug-ins available in the official channel and technological "being up-to-date" allow it to be expanded in principle at will. While Magento is designed with the classic online sales model in mind (whether B2C or B2B), Sylius imposes no flow and leaves a great deal of freedom. It can be used both as a retail and wholesale channel, but can also be treated as a resource for other services, such as those delivered in a SaaS model, such as e-learning or VOD services. The free version provides a lot of useful tools right away - it supports multicurrency and internationalization of our store, which encourages the development of cross-border sales channels. Integrations with payment gateways and courier companies are available in the form of free plug-ins, which significantly speeds up the integration process.

The aforementioned avoidance of technological debt also facilitates the development of dedicated modules. The entire framework is developed using modern tools, so creating a development team responsible for the development of our e-commerce in this case will not be a problem. In addition, Sylius offers excellent documentation, as well as many options for support in the development and maintenance of the store. For companies starting out with the platform, there are workshops, webinars and even personal consultations of the developers.

As with Magento, Sylius also comes in a paid version. In addition to additional modules and tools - returns management, the ability to connect multiple sources, advanced user permissions - the platform offers a rare, dedicated Customer Success Manager, thanks to which we have a strong influence on the further direction of the system. In addition, for business-complex projects, we can take advantage of Project Success Assistance - a team of experienced engineers and consultants who will help solve problems that arise during implementation, supporting our IT team. The payment model is simple and based on the gross revenue from sales realized by the platform.

For whom?

‍‍You likethe Tesla S because you know you'll get another software update in a year, and you're putting on a turtleneck and jeans for the office. You're taking your first steps into the online market, or looking for a new, more flexible solution. You don't yet know what direction the business will take. You are starting with a few products, but in the future you plan to have tens of thousands of them. You want to keep the costs of maintaining the entire platform under control, and at this point you don't want to invest huge sums in its development. Sylius will therefore be tailored to you and your needs.

The rest of the ball

‍Thee-commerce feasttable is, of course, very long and there are plenty of other guests sitting around it. It's impossible not to mention platforms such as WooCommerce and Shopify, which together are used by nearly 7 million sites worldwide. Each of these systems or platforms has its own unique use, and it is impossible to point out unequivocally which is better or worse. The most important questions we need to ask ourselves before choosing the right solution are: how many different goods we want to sell, whether we need integrations with external systems (e.g. ERP or WMS class), how much influence we want to have on the appearance of the store and how much money we want to allocate for this investment in the initial stage.

To avoid being left alone with these questions, it is worth asking for help from specialized companies that will be able to choose the right solution for our business. It is important that the company we consult, in addition to experience, is also characterized by flexibility and does not have in its offer, only "one solution, proven in all situations", because such simply does not exist.

Profile photo of Peter Wegner

Piotr Wegner

Leader of the Frontend and Product Design areas with several years of experience in the industry. Fresh graduate of Executive Master of Business Administration IT. Change manager responsible for promoting product approach. FRIS Visionary in thought and Strategist in action. He puts ambition and willingness to act first - the rest can be taught to anyone. He has been associated with Britenet for over 5 years.