VirtueMart Ecommerce Software Review
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VirtueMart Review: What kind of merchant should use the VirtueMart ecommerce plug-in?
VirtueMart is a free, open-source ecommerce plug-in that works in conjunction with the Joomla content management system. It was launched in 1997 and, to date, has been utilized by nearly 300,000 retailers worldwide.
VirtueMart is not for the novice business owner by any means. For one, it operates on a less than user-friendly CMS (Joomla). Known for its confusing interface and complicated admin area, Joomla is a platform designed for the highly tech savvy user– not the casual web user. Additionally, VirtueMart’s open source code (which is all PHP and MySQL-based) makes it difficult for the average business owner to manage. In most cases, an experienced web developer or programmer is needed to install and implement the platform successfully (and to maintain it in the long run). Let’s also not forget that VirtueMart and Joomla have both been swept up by WordPress and Woocommerce as the newer, more user-friendly CMS has gained popularity in the last couple of years.
VirtueMart (or Joomla, for that matter) does not come with any sort of hosting support. That means business owners who choose to use this platform must acquire a separate hosting package with another vendor in order to get their store up and running.
Users also may have to cough up extra dough if they want their store to be mobile-friendly. Mobile compatibility for VirtueMart is only available via the iVM Store application, which must be purchased through the iTunes App Store or Google Play. Depending on the device retailers want to target and the licensing period they choose, the app can run between $110 to $1000. So, if your store/product category inherently attracts a lot of mobile users, VirtueMart is not ideal.
Accepting payment with VirtueMart can also be a costly process. To accept credit cards using the platform, retailers first must install a PCI-compliant plug-in into their Joomla installation, which costs around $50. They’ll also need to sign up with an approved payment gateway and acquire an SSL certificate (both of which mean more fees.) Fortunately, PayPal is a bit easier to install, and it can be done at no cost.
Ideal for: The do-it-yourself small to medium sized retailer w/ a lot of technical know-how.
VirtueMart Review: Positive VirtueMart Features
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Good VirtueMart Features Feature Grade Industry experience and documentation (been around for 15 years; ample user manuals; active online community forum, including international forums) A Solid SEO structure (meta tags and nested categories allow for easy SEO work) B- Allows for unlimited products and product categories (as much as your hosting package will allow) A- Built-in reviews and ratings system A Free to download, relatively inexpensive extensions A- Numerous third-party extensions can allow social share functionality, currency exchanges, and more B
Virtumart Review: Negative VirtueMart features
Ecommerce Platform Comparison: Bad VirtueMart Features Feature Grade Requires hosting, recommended hosting here C+ Requires using in conjunction with the Joomla CMS, which is somewhat outdated and user-unfriendly F Difficult to install and manage without a techy savvy professional or Joomla web developer
C Mobile compatibility costs extra and options are limited. This seems to be their main mobile extension. C+ No built-in analytics or reporting tools D Few template options C+ No extra marketing functionality (ex. no discount, coupon, or loyalty program functions built-in) D+ Accepting credit cards can be costly (payment gateway, SSL, credit card plugin all cost additional fees) F Limited customer service (don’t offer assistance with template or extension issues) D
You can view all of VirtueMart’s features here.
Notable VirtueMart Stores:
VirtueMart Review: Bottom Line
Transferring your online store, or even starting out there, would be a huge step backwards. VirtueMart is past its prime and in both design and functionality, appears outdated, weak, and surpassed by more innovative competitors. It seems like VirtueMart also has a stronger international presence than it does in the U.S.
In a nutshell, VirtueMart is a valid option for the retailer who has his/her sights aimed small. Small to medium-sized retailers looking in the open-source market are better off considering more mainstream solutions.
Ecommerce Platform Comparison Grade: C
View the master list of our ecommerce platform comparison to make the most informed choice when choosing your ecommerce platform software.
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*Note: Grades are subjectively based on analysis and comparison to other ecommerce platforms, based on availability, significance, and functionality of the platform feature and overall value.