Drawbacks of PHP eCommerce Solutions and Reasons to move to newer technology

by Smitha Adarsh

Jul 13, 2019

Although my intensions are not to mock other eCommerce Solutions that are built on PHP, my intensions rather lies in creating awareness among eCommerce Developers as well as eCommerce Business Owners about the better options, if they are badly stuck up without getting to upgrade, improve and enhance their current eCommerce store.  

We were earlier a big fan of one of the popular open source eCommerce solutions, built on PHP, and we have used this solution extensively to develop several eCommerce Applications. However, over the years, with our experience, we found a few flaws in these solutions, which I would like to share on this platform.

If you are an eCommerce Developer or an online Store Owner, I'm sure you might be already aware of what I'm trying to say here. For people, who are not aware of better options and who are stilling inclined towards one of those PHP based open source solutions, for their future eCommerce development, I would like to throw some light on the drawbacks.

·         How is your upgrade from older version to newer version going on?

·         Did you even get to upgrade your eCommerce store to the latest version as yet?

·         What do you think about the improvements in the features in the newer version from the older version, in the current eCommerce solution you are using?

In most of the PHP based solutions,  the upgrade to the newer versions, for both eCommerce Developers as well as Store Owners is definitely not a smooth sail.

This is not only true in case of a major upgrade, but, it is also seen in cases of bringing small changes like, from version 2.0 to 2.1 to 2.2 to 2.3, with just 4 to 7 new feature updates.

Why are things so painful when it comes to upgrading eCommerce websites built on PHP based solutions?

The first reason is due to the extensive use of third party themes and plug-in from these solutions.  The second reason is these solutions by themselves, are not up to the mark, while bringing upgrades. Whenever a new version is released, there is no clear documentation on that and they end up with broken scripts of upgrade and broken builds.  Also, minor releases in between major changes break backward compatibility.

This is a huge problem to the Store Owner as they do not care about regularly upgrading their website. when upgrading becomes mandate with a major change,  the Developer offering this service ends up in a trouble, fixing the compatibility issues, wasting their precious time in creating and maintaining a plethora of different versions of themes and extensions, instead of simply supporting them. It is evident that most of the eCommerce Developers are doing just that. 

Now, after having discussed about the problems with upgrade, let us now discuss on the poor set of features  in these solutions and how they are affecting the eCommerce stores.  

Nevertheless, these open source solutions have thoughtfully come up with very good set of features. However, are they really studying the latest eCommerce trends and then incorporating the features to be on par with the trends, is the question. Let us take the examples of a few major features of a standard eCommerce store, to analyze the entire scenario.

SEO Friendly Features

Let us take the example of SEO frienlines. By default, some of these Open source eCommerce platforms come with SEO disabled. This means the page URLs will look like this:

http://example.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=123

This is certainly not good for the SEO.

However, you may enable SEO in the eCommerce solution and get the URL of the product detail page to look like this.

http://example.com/iphone-x/

This is better than the previous one, but still, not a perfect thing for SEO.

Also, most of the PHP eCommerce solutions do not make all the URLs within an eCommerce website attractive for SEO. You will still get many URLs of index.php?route= 

This may not be a huge problem for SEO. However, it still doesn't look good from the Customers' experience perspective.

Further, even if SEO is enabled in these eCommerce solutions. it will lack the following.

·         On-page SEO including micro data on product pages, which is extremely important for any online store.

·         Options for SEO URL customization with possibilities for changing default values and scope for adding product prefix.

·         Automatic creation of SEO titles and descriptions.

·         Convenient tool for SEO management, for example, mass title and description editor.

Check-out Option

Next, let us take the example of check-out process. Although, most of the PHP eCommerce solutions claim that they have single page check-out option, they will typically have the page split into multiple steps. So, for a new Customer, it will typically be, personal information, Account and billing details, Delivery details, Delivery method, Payment method and Confirm order.

Apparently, the latest eCommerce trend recommends having quick and one-page check out and this is one of the top selling feature that can make an eCommerce solution popular. Although, we cannot aptly say that multiple steps leads to cart abandonment and single page check out can avoid this, an optimized check out process has to be one of the prominent feature in a standard eCommerce solution.

Marketing tools, Product Promotion and eCommerce Store Conversion and Monetization

 Next, talking about the marketing tools, product promotion and eCommerce store monetization and conversions, there are a plenty of sources and they include:

·          newsletter campaigns

·          discount coupons

·          abandoned cart reminders

·          special prices

·          wishlist reminders

·          up sales, down sales and cross-sales

·          customer reviews

·          flash sales and promotions

·          downloadable offers and giveaways

·          blog posts for content marketing

·          remarketing ads

·          integrations with social media platforms

However, most of the PHP eCommerce solutions have not implemented most of the these, up to the standard. And, some of the common drawbacks in these solutions include:

·         Product reviews can be given by anyone and there is no systematic way for a Customer, who purchased the product, to review the product, from their account.

·         Abandoned carts go without getting checked-out.

·         There is scope for newsletter campaigns, but it cannot be used effectively and using it can be a bit painful.

·         No automatic discount creation feature and although discount coupons can be created manually, there is no tracker tied to campaigns.

·         No proper feature for up-sale, down-sale and cross-sale, while the related products have to be defined manually.

·         No flash sales and promotions with countdowns.

·         Very few options for content marketing and no option for publishing blog posts.

·          Creating custom pages can only be done through information module, which may not be feasible all the time.

·         Discount campaigns need to be managed separately from newsletter campaigns.

·         Product reviews aren't tied to Customer incentives.

·         Marketing tracking is a separate system altogether.

·         social media integrations, affiliate marketing and reward points can be done in a better way.

Most of the PHP based shopping cart solutions have not incorporated most of these out of the box things However, if they do, they should surely stand out.

It's time to adapt a change

Having studied the drawbacks of PHP technology for eCommerce stores and holding an extensive experience in eCommerce domain, we came up with an idea for an open source eCommerce solution, using futuristic technologies of NodeJS and Angular and it is called 'Spurtcommerce'.

The advantage of NodeJS is it makes the eCommerce store 10 times faster than what other technologies can do. Nevertheless, PHP has been proven as a good technology until now for several eCommerce stores. However, with increasing product uploads and a large number of visitors at one single point of time, especially during a holiday season sale or offer and discount sale, the eCommerce store built on a PHP based solution are bound to get slower with increased load time, ultimately resulting in online shoppers leaving the site.

NodeJS with its asynchronous feature,  can sustain speed and a consistent load time, even with a large number of visitors and with any number of product uploads, guaranteeing 0.01 percent downtime.

Upgrades to the Solution

We are constantly working towards bringing upgrades and new features. Soon after the launch of open source solution for web, the launching of open source Mobile App for eCommerce followed and there is still more to come.

Spurt Community

Any open source solution is powered by a Community of Developers, who support the solution to thrive in the market.  We are forming a Community of Developers, who are active in the Community, initiating discussions, answering questions and seeking answers for their problems. In this Community, the entire team behind Spurtcommerce is also enough active, answering technical queries from eCommerce Developers and Store Owners from all over the world.

Visit community.spurtcommerce.com

Customization Services

If you are looking for an eCommerce store with unique features, we shall offer services exclusively for your requirement and customize the solution for your business need.

To learn more about how Spurtcommerce can help you surpass the challenges in eCommerce Industry, and how Spurtcommerce can help you stay ahead in the competition, you may write to support@spurtcommerce.com, stating your challenges and assistance you are looking forward to from us.                                                      

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Smitha Adarsh