Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform written in PHP and is currently one of the largest e-commerce platforms on the market supporting hundreds of thousands of online stores. According to data provided by Magento, there are more than 250,000 merchants worldwide using the platform. The platform is available in two versions, a community edition and Magento Commerce a commercial edition.
Some background, so Magento was started by Varien in 2007, a company that previously worked with oscommerce, also an e-commerce platform. Originally the idea was to fork oscommerce, but then Varien decided to rewrite and rename and Magento was born. The platform was recently acquired by Adobe Inc in May 2018 for $1.68 Billion USD.
So if Magento is so popular why consider an alternative platform. The answer could be simple or complex dependent on your individual situation.
Magento is a large project and ownership can be steep when you take into account the cost of adding additional feature extensions, hosting, security, maintenance, design and development costs. While the platform allows for extreme customizations, this can also be it's downfall, the system can be complicated, the software bloated and can be difficult to develop and update and may need a larger team to maintain than other alternative systems.
In the spirit of alternate technology, we have created a curated list of the Top 5: Best Self-Hosted Scalable E Commerce alternatives to Magento you might consider, presented in no particular order and shortlisted from a developers perspective taking into account a possible commercial use case, scaleability, community support, documentation and project maturity.
Aimeos is touted as an ultra fast, open source and scalable to #gigacommerce platform. The software is written with PHP and built on Laravel, the "most popular PHP framework and possibly "the most popular web development framework" out there with a vibrant community of more than 500,000 users and a site that gets more than 3million visits per month.
Aimeos is a multi vendor, multi channel and multi warehouse capable e commerce platform. The framework is said to be able to handle from one to 1,000,000,000+ items that render in 20ms. The Aimeos platform can support multiple databases including MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and SQL Server.
The project seems to be well supported with continuous updates as shown on Github and offers the additional option of running the platform using Symfony, also a very popular framework who's core components are used in Laravel and many other popular web development platforms, or if you prefer Typo3 a Content Management System approach to managing and operating your online store.
Aimeos can be installed using Composer, an application-level package manager for the PHP programming language that provides a standard format for managing dependencies of PHP. Installation is an easy setup and is pretty well documented and the Aimeos install package runs fairly light on server resources. For more details on the project take a look at these case studies.
Saleor is a rapidly-growing, well supported, open source e-commerce platform that has already served high-volume companies from branches like publishing and apparel since 2012.
The platform is based on Python and the Django framework with the latest major update introducing a modular front end powered by a GraphQL API and written with React and TypeScript supporting Progressive Web Applications or PWA. This also means you can changeout and use whatever front-end technology works best for you.
The platform is developed and supported by Mirumee Software. Mirumee have a long working experience in e commerce and e commerce platforms with early expertise gained supporting and developing other well known Python e commerce frameworks like Oscar and Satchless.
Saleor is an ultra-fast, dynamic platform with a well designed admin interface. The platform offers a separate decoupled layout being the saleor system, the admin dashboard and the frontend which work off separate ports for complete flexibility and headless e commerce development. Also Saleor's GraphQL API enables fast site speeds with instantaneous page loads.
Installation can be completed manually using Python, Virtualenv, Wsgi or Gunicorn and Nginx but this does require a higher level of skill for setting up and configuring, alternately Saleor can be easily installed using Docker. The project is well documented and is continuously updated on Github, has a vibrant and active community and is backed up by Mirumee Software for additional support.
Lastly if you are a software house with a proven record of bringing value to e-commerce businesses you may want to check out their partner proposal.
Sylius is built on PHP and the Symfony framework and was started by Paweł in 2010. The platform is available in two flavours, an Open Source eCommerce platform or Sylius Plus which gives you all the power of Open Source and more, ie. It comes with a set of enterprise-grade features and technical support from its creators.
Sylius is described as an Open Source Headless eCommerce Platform for mid-market and enterprise brands that need custom solutions.
Accordingly the platform is said to offer a modern approach to the professional development of projects, allowing the evolution of the digital stack at the pace.
With Sylius you can use the functionality provided out-of-the-box or replace individual parts with the integration to your existing or desired PIM, CRM, or Marketing Automation software enabling you to choose the best in each category without being vendor-locked in legacy, centralised solutions.
Sylius is positioned as a framework to develop modern API-driven projects with a focus on backend and a headless API strategy giving you a broad range of options to fully utilise and customise the platform like developing for PWA, SPA, or Native Mobile Apps. The project supports an international e commerce strategy that can cover cross-border commerce, multiple currencies, departments, countries and more.
Spree Commerce is an open-source e-commerce solution based on Ruby on Rails with a responsive user interface, optional PWA frontend, REST API, GraphQL (coming soon) and several official extensions and 3rd party integrations available.
Recently Spree Commerce 4.1 was released and is now available after 6 months in development, 6000+ hours spent between 25+ core team members, tested in 3 release candidates by several community testers providing feedback and contributing. As a result of this effort, the Spree community will be able to launch high-performance mobile-first E-Commerce applications within weeks from project kickoff saving hundreds if not thousands of hours on development and QA.
Another interesting note about Spree is that GoDaddy a tech company that powers the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures with 17.5M+ customers worldwide and 76M+ domain names under management uses Spree Commerce open source software for its E commerce solution for small businesses with 10s of thousands of unique live storefronts.
It may also be helpful to note that in challenging situations where you need urgent support on a production server it is comforting the know that the team at Spark Solutions are available for hire should you ever need it.
If you are interested in an e commerce platform solution that just works out of the box, then Bagisto may be the right choice.
Bagisto is built on Laravel as an e commerce platform but is not limited to just to e-commerce, it also offers post- commerce solutions such as marketplaces, point-of-sale (PoS) solutions, progressive Web apps (PWA), and dropship solutions.
Bagisto is also highly scalable, very flexible and can be easily customised by developers working on the Laravel framework. This platform is suited to all stores covering small, medium and large enterprise stores, it can be developed and supported by a small team of developers and requires less server resources to run.
Webkul the company that develops Bagisto is a bootstrapped organization founded in the year 2010. The company boasts an impressive number of well known clients and has many actively developed projects available supporting a multitude of platforms including extensions for Magento. If you are looking for a quick and easy, fast deployable solution that is easy to maintain with a small team yet is completely scalable, then this platform may be the right choice for you.
An important consideration before choosing Bagisto, features like payment gateways for Stripe etc are an extra purchase and this makes Bagisto not entirely free, more like Freemium, you can view extensions and prices here
If you have reached this point and are still not sure about which platform is right for you then let us leave you with a little note of our past experience. Try not to choose a solution based on your favourite framework and or programming language. This is a common mistake we have made repeatedly in the past and it could result in a change of direction and major rework of your business strategy down the line. Instead rather choose a framework that has a great community and detailed documentation and importantly suits your project type, team size, budget and hosting preferences.
Remember software and technology is always in flux, constantly changing and adapting. One minute Python is the flavour of the day and in the next it is Rust Lang, who knows what tomorrow may bring. In our humble but well learned opinion we would suggest the following guide:
- If you have a bigger team of developers and budget and don't mind spending a little extra for features then we would suggest Aimeos or Sylius, both rock solid choices.
- If you are a little more adventurous and would like to work with a solution that is seriously cutting edge and progressive and can be run with a lower cost as all the features are mostly built in and offers an easy migration from Magento, but could be tricky to setup initially, then Saleor may be your choice.
- If you are looking for a mature and solid e commerce solution that may need a little more setup and development using great documentation and support and has all the needed features of a solid e commerce platform, and you do not mind learning the Ruby Lang and Ruby on Rails then Spree Commerce is a solid choice, this platform is completely free to use and all extensions are completely free.
- Finally if you are looking to get a project up and running fast out of the box with great support and don't mind paying a one off fee for a couple of added feature extensions then Bagisto may be the right solution for you. The platform is highly scalable, easily developed and cheap to host and maintain with great support from Webkul.