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4 Best eCommerce Platforms In South Africa Right Now [2020 Guide]

4 Best eCommerce Platforms In South Africa Right Now [2020 Guide]

Many South African businesses shared a collective sigh of relief on Thursday as the Presidency announced all eCommerce stores are allowed to operate under Level 4 Lockdown.

A lucky few businesses can return back to some form of production & online sales. But companies without eCommerce stores are facing the prospect of being left in the dust if they don’t jump onto the eCommerce bandwagon soon.

In this article, we will compare the 4 best eCommerce platforms for businesses in South Africa during the lockdown.

4 Best eCommerce Platforms in South Africa

The most popular eCommerce platforms in South Africa right now are:

magento best ecommerce platform south africa

Magento is an advanced open-source eCommerce platform popular with large online retailers.

shopify best ecommerce platform south africa

Shopify is a SAAS (Software As A Service) eCommerce platform with monthly plans.

wix best ecommerce platform south africa

Wix eCommerce is the eCommerce add-on for Wix, a user-friendly SAAS website builder.

woocommerce best ecommerce platform south africa

Woocommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress which powers 35% of all websites on the internet.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an eCommerce Platform

We are comparing these platforms based on the most important factors for small businesses right now:


Ease of Use


Features & Functionalities

Design Customisation


TL;DR: If you don’t want to read this shpeel then skip right to the end:

The Verdict


Price is the most important factor for businesses at the moment as cashflow has been tight, if not non-existent.

And there are many costs to factor in, such as set up costs and running costs. These 3 things must be considered when it comes to the cost of these eCommerce platforms:


  • Set up cost
  • Monthly fees (subscriptions, hosting etc.)
  • Transaction fees
price of ecommerce platforms south africa


Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that will allow you to set up an online shop for free. That being said, there is a learning curve which may not be worth your time, in which case you want to hire a developer to assist you – this will cost additional.

But because Magento is open source, you don’t pay a monthly subscription, however you will still have to pay your hosting fees.

When setting up your online shop you can choose to accept online payments, or direct bank transfers (EFT). If you select the latter, there will be no transaction fee. However, if you want to accept online payments you will need to use a South African payment gateway such as PayFast or PayGate. Both of these providers charge 3.5% per transaction.


Shopify is a subscription-based complete eCommerce solution. You sign up online, and without any technincal set up you can start creating your store.

Shopify requires a monthly subscription for you to continue selling products on their platform. They have different packages to choose from, based on what your needs are.

Shopify’s transaction fees get less as the monthly subscription plan increases.


Similar to Shopify Wix is a subscription-based complete eCommerce solution. You sign up online, and without any set up you can start creating your store. Wix also requires a monthly subscription to use their platform. They have 4 different monthly plans to choose from, offering different features.

Wix charges a flat 2.9% on all payments through their Wix Payments solution.


Woocommerce is another open-source eCommerce platform which is free to use for setting up your online store. It is free, but using an eCommerce web developer to assist you with the set up is advised.

Since this is a self-hosted solution, you will need to pay for your own website hosting.

As with Magento, Wocoomerce allows you to accept EFTs. But if you want to accept online payments, you need to use PayFast or PayGate.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is very important because business owners want a simple, easy to use online shop that will allow them to sell products and make changes without having to hire developers.

We will cover two aspects of ease of use:


  • Setting up
  • Ongoing management

You will need to set up your ecommerce shop before you can use it. And there are things to consider here like the hosting and installation.

When we refer to “management” we are talking admin operations such as adding/editing products, managing orders and shipping etc. And we are also talking about updating or changing content text, images etc.) on your site.

easy to use ecommerce platforms south africa


As we have mentioned, you can set up a Magento site yourself, but the learning curve is steep and not worth your time. Magento is an ecommerce platform aimed at businesses who have very large catalogues (thousands of products). So the back-end is simple, but there are many different tabs and settings to navigate through.?


Shopify is an eCommerce platform designed for small business owners who want a quick professional website in no time. Therefore they have made the platform very intuitive, making it easy for almost anyone to set up a store. It’s fairly easy to edit a Shopify store, in that they have limited what you can edit. There is a front-end editor that allows you to change images and text as per the theme you choose. Shopify is built for small businesses. The back-end is very intuitive and simple to use.?


As with Shopify, Wix is built for the person on the street. So it is simple to create a website and add your products. Wix eCommerce is also has a simple & easy to use back-end.?


Setting up a Woocommerce store by yourself is entirely possible after watching a few Youtube tutorials. The most technical and complicated part is really just setting up your hosting domain with a WordPress installation. Woocommerce is the best of both worlds – it has the infrastructure to handle thousands of products and categories, with a simple to use back-end.


Features & Functionalities

Other than the standard eCommerce functions, you may want to add extra features to your website like price comparisons or product customisation.

Each platform allows you to add some extra functionalies & features, however it varies from platform to platform.

ecommerce platforms south africa features & functionalities


Because Magento is an open-source platform, developers from all over the world are constantly improving the platform by adding new features and functions. These are called extensions and there are tens of thousands of them, both free and paid options.


Shopify has the Shopify App Marketplace where developers sell their “Apps” which offer the extra functions you are looking for. However, almost all the Apps are subscription-based, meaning your monthly subscription increases.


Wix has their online store which allows Wix website owners to add functionalities to their site. Most of the Apps to choose from coming with a free and premium option – the former with limited features.


Because Woocommerce is an open-source platform, developers from all over the world are constantly improving the platform by adding new features and functions. These are called extensions and there are tens of thousands of them, both free and paid options.

Design Customisation

Some website owners want total control over how their eCommerce shop looks. Therefore design is an important factor to consider.

All the platforms allow you to choose from thousands of ecommerce templates and themes. The major difference between the platforms is how customisable that template is.

ecommerce platforms south africa design customisation


Customising a Magento theme depends entirely on the theme/template you have chosen. Generally speaking making text or images changes are fairly easy, however changing layouts and modifying whole sections can be hard.


Shopify’s focus on is more on simple ecommerce management than design customisation. They have some amazing themes and templates to choose from (ranging from free to $200). Editing these templates are easy in that you can change text & images, but customising these templates is near impossible.


Wix also comes with templates to give you a professional “out of the box” website. But it is their intuitive front-page editor that allows you to edit almost any aspect of your shop. But even with this editor, some aspects of the template or theme cannot be changed.


Woocoommerce is a WordPress “plugin”, so your shop often takes on the styling of your website. This is why it is VERY easy to turn a WordPress site into a Woocoomerce store. WordPress allows you to really edit every single aspect of your website. It does depend on what theme or template you use, but the design flexibility of WordPress and Woocommerce make it stand head and shoulders above the rest.


Website Ownership is a very important factor to address, especially for business owners who may want to upgrade their ecommerce stores or move to another platform at a later date.

Both Shopify & Wix lock business owners into a monhtly subscription, which if cancelled causes the owner to lose their site.

Magento & Woocommerce are open-source platforms, allowing them to be downloaded and installed on your own hosting server – which means you have total control.

ecommerce platform south africa ownership


Magento is a self-hosted solution – meaning the software is installed on your website hosting server. Essentially you have full control and ownership of the entire website (design, content & products).


Shopify is SAAS (Software as a Service), where you sign up with them and you use their platform to sell your products. They provide the hosting, software & support which you are essentially “renting” through a subscription. If you stop paying your subscription they shut down your site. There is also no way to transfer your Shopify website to another platform (like Magento or Woocommerce).


Wix is also SAAS like Shopify. You are renting your eCommerce store.


Woocommerce is a self-hosted solution – meaning the software is installed on your website hosting server. You have full control and ownership of the entire website (design, content & products).

The Verdict

There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best eCommerce platform for you. We have focussed on the most important factors to business owners right now during Lockdown.

But after all is said and done, there is one clear winner.

WooCommerce is the best all-round eCommerce platform. It caters for every kind of business, selling any product and with any size catalogue.

Setting up a WordPress website with WooCommerce is easy, and there are no monthly costs other than your hosting.

It gives you the flexibility to design your eCommerce store exaclty as you like, and upgrade it with unlimited features & functions.

Why WooCommerce Is The Best eCommerce Platform in South Africa Right Now


Your website is probably a WordPress website, making it painless & cheap to convert into an online store


There’s no monthly subscription fees


Choose from a wide-variety of designs & styles, which can be customised to your business


Add any features or functions to your online store


You own your website, content and all products

At this stage we should probably admit that as WordPress development experts, we are a bit bias. However, we have worked with each of of these platforms and experience beats theory any time.

WooCommerce is the perfect option for any business that wants an eCommerce store. And if you already have a WordPress website, it’s even easier to convert to an eCommerce store.

Need an eCommerce Website?

We can help you convert your existing website into a functional online shop. Or we can build a fresh new eCommerce website so that you can sell products online.

5 Reasons Why Your Website Needs Managed Hosting

5 Reasons Why Your Website Needs Managed Hosting

Traditionally you needed to pay a hosting company?and?a website developer to ensure your website is functional and up-to-date. The hosting company charges you for space on their server to store your website, and the developer charges maintain & update the website. Often, we come across clients who aren’t sure how managed hosting works and how beneficial it will be for their business. Interested in finding out more? Then carry on reading.


So, What is Managed Hosting??

To understand it better, let’s use a simple analogy: a web host is like a property manager, it’s someone who oversees your asset and ensures that things run smoothly. Put simply, managed hosting means the hosting provider (for example, LaunchWeb) will take care of all your server related issues. If you’ve developed a website with the intention to have it viewed on the internet then hosting is a prerequisite and we’re here to tell you why managed hosting is a must.

But, Who Uses Managed Website Hosting?

Anyone with a website can and should make use of managed website hosting. The beauty of it is that the constant upkeep of the server is left in the hands of your trusty hosting provider and they’ll ensure that everything works as it’s supposed to, giving you peace of mind that should anything go awry, it will be solved in a matter of minutes.


& Why Does My Website Need It?

For one, website hosting entails the constant upkeep of the server which not everyone has the knowledge or time to do. When it comes down to it, managed hosting will always be the way to go. Not only does it ensure that your website is always up and running smoothly, it allows your website visitors the pleasure of reliability and fast loading pages and thus, a great user experience. Some of the benefits of Managed Hosting include:


  1. Server Monitoring: System administrators regularly scan the servers to search for any irregularities or potential failures. This goes a long way to ensure good server uptime and network availability.

  1. Security & Performance: Web hosting provides much greater security and performance. Hosting providers are better suited to handling server issues and concentrated knowledge means that issues can be handled quickly and more efficiently.

  1. Regular Backups: Peace of mind that your data is backed up and secure is priceless. Having your data regularly backed up and preserved should anything ever go awry means that it’s a simple process to get your website restored and back up and running within a matter of hours or less.


  1. Save Time: Managed hosting minimizes the amount of hands-on IT work that needs to be performed on the server to maintain it. This means you’ll be freed up to focus on other, more important aspects of your life & business.

  1. Save Money: The time and money you’d spend managing your server on a shared hosting plan would be much better used on your core business. This remains true at the best of times and undeniable at the?worst of times.

For smooth sailing and peace of mind, managed hosting is a no brainer. The convenience and benefit of concentrated knowledge to handle issues faster and more efficiently is priceless. There are only 24 hours in the day, employing managed hosting to worry about server maintenance will allow you to focus on the more important things in life & business. You can’t go wrong with one of?LaunchWeb’s Managed WordPress Hosting?packages, tailored to your needs, and of course, your budget!?

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