ProductCart vs. Magento Commerce: comparing apples to apples

If you are comparing ProductCart to Magento Commerce, you’re already on the right track: both are robust, feature-rich shopping cart systems that can help you run a successful online store. Here’s a problem, though. One (Magento) appears to be free at first sight. The other (ProductCart), charges a license fee.

No-brainer then, right? Go with the free system? Well, you need to look a little deeper. There are versions of Magento for which you are charged a pretty substantial amount of money on a yearly basis (as of Julu 2010: around $3,000/year for the “Professional” version, and around $13,000/year for the “Enterprise” version).

Now, many features that are not included in the free, Community Edition of Magento come standard with ProductCart (this is current as of July 2010). Let’s focus on just a few of them:

  1. Gift Certificates
    Fully supported (and very flexibly so) by ProductCart, Gift Certificates are not supported by Magento Community Edition. You need the Professional edition to sell and support Gift Certificates.
  2. Reward Points System
    Same as above: our ProductCart shopping cart software has included a Reward Points system for years. And in the upcoming v4.1 you can now do creative things like rewarding customers for taking time for writing product reviews.
  3. Private Shopping Club
    Supported in the upcoming 4.1 release of ProductCart through the Customer Pricing Category feature, you need the Enterprise Edition of Magento to implement it there (this is the kind of feature that you might need to tweak to fully meet your needs, and you can certainly do that with ProductCart: you have access to the source code, and ProductCart resellers/developers ready to assist you).
  4. PA-DSS Compliant
    This is required if you want to run a PCI-compliant store and are using a third-party payment application (i.e. something you didn’t develop yourself). This is not supported by Magento Community edition. The “Professional” edition might support this requirement in the future (again, around $3,000/year for that version).
  5. Logging of Store Manager Actions
    This is required by PCI DSS reculations. Want this feature with Magento? You need the “Enterprise Edition” (around $13,000/year).
  6. No Support
    At Early Impact we believe in our software and fully support it. We charge $195/year for support, updates, and upgrades. Everyone in the company does at least some customer service. We believe customer service is an absolutely integral part of the business. Merchants that use our e-commerce software depend on us! With Magento Community edition you get “no support”. With ProductCart, you have a company that’s been in this business since 2001, fully committed to supporting its software.

When you are reviewing different shopping carts, comparing “apples to apples” is not easy given the overwhelming amount of information out there. We hope this article helps a bit in that regard.

P.S. We’ve created an e-commerce solution total cost calculator that can help you forecast the total cost of running an e-commerce store, regardless of which software or hosted solution you decide to use. Check it out.