The review of xt:Commerce: the pros and cons for online stores

Speaking about trends: the xt:Commerce platform is highly popular in Germany. 3497 of the 4408 xt:Commerce - working online stores are using this system in Germany the FRG region. And there is nothing surprising: the product of the German market bases its marketing and advertising campaigns 90% on the national market. Since it’s difficult to compete with worldwide leaders like WordPress, and Joomla, the domestic market is much more comfortable to serve: a rich history, lack of language barriers, a studied audience, and cultured community. Despite the high level of professionals in Germany, the amount of complaints is increasing. The clients are not completely satisfied about migration process, the problems that appear after updates, the introduction of additional functionality, when testing performance, etc. 

Thus, if you already have the xt:Commerce store or you are planning to create one on this CMS, let’s dive into this topic to explore some pitfalls that may appear. Is it too different from the competitors, what opportunities it opens up in online commerce, and what problems it creates for online stores? Let’s make this long story short and useful. 

The latest xt:Commerce products

The company has a line of versions, which demonstrates a tendency in the development of technology with each update. Today, in terms of functionality and capabilities, the following remain relevant:

xt:Commerce 4.x (Veyton)

Supports: PHP 5, MySQL

Perhaps this is the most popular company’s; version. In 2011, when version 4 was released, it had virtually no analogs in terms of capabilities and functionality in the German market. It was one of the first to provide modular content customization, Smarty Template Engine. Open source is the benefit of almost every version of xt:Commerce.

It is also good to note a large number of plugins and the normal operation of all systems. During the existence of version 4, the community actively helped the company make Veyton an optimal platform for creating and developing small and medium-sized businesses on the Internet. And today, the information base, which has been rebuilt on the errors and decisions of version 4, remains relevant and allows you to quickly solve problems and issues that arise at all stages of working with the site.

However, regarding modern realities, version 4 is frankly outdated. Without the support of JS, PHP 7 versionversion 7 of PHP, a simplified architecture and arrays of redundant code, the performance, capabilities, and prospects of version 4 in 2019/2020 are very mediocre.

xt:Commerce 5.x

Supports: PHP 7.2, MySQL 5.6 and 5.7

This is a more progressive version, which is significantly superior to the 4th. xt:Commerce 5.x already has an adaptive template, a built-in slider by default, the increased performance of all components. Also, all the most popular plugins are developed for version 5, and the SEO functionality is updated (now it’s included in the basic page setup) and much more.

Today it’s the best option from the xt:Commerce line because version 6 still requires improvements and raises a lot of noise among the community after updates.

xt:Commerce 6 FREE and PRO

Supports: PHP 7.3, MySQL 5.6 and 5.7

This version was released in 2018 with the support of the Klarna system. Here are some cons: a free interface for working with content, SOAP, a new type of xtAdmin, scripts and plugins for quick migration from 4.x and 5.x versions to 6, as well as free access and installation of version 6. The free version becomes paid in case you need to place more than one store.

Despite all these advantages, the 5th and 4th versions remain the most popular. And here are why: 

  1. The 6th version still contains bugs and vulnerabilities, which is why the sites aren’t updated to the latest version.
  2. The customers are satisfied with the work of the current site, implemented in 2011-2018 in versions 4 or 5. There is no need to update and expand functionality. Often these are small online stores with a limited product range, as well as regional offices that sell products in a particular city or region and don’t have a high level of competition.
  3. The website owners don’t follow the trends and don’t engage in store development. They feel fine about the current layout and don’t bother with the development of marketing and commercial tools in outdated versions of xt:Commerce.
  4. To migrate to version 6, you need to organize the process itself. And this is time, money, and energy-consuming. Also, sometimes, the client can't find the crucial reason to start it. 

However, statistics show that over the past 2 years in the DACH region, the xt:Commerce system hast lost more than 700 stores to such giants like  had lost more than has been replaced by more than 700 stores in favor of such giants as stores, mainly with Shopware, Magento, and OXID. Here’s not a rhetorical question: why?

The problems that hinder the development of stores 

Working on new projects into development or marketing, our company experts conduct a mandatory audit which evaluates the technical, marketing and production parameters of xt:Commerceyour websites. This is the so-called basic acquaintance, which allows you to analyze the prospects for the development of your project.

After analyzing more than 200 sites on the xt:Commerce platform, as well as going through many hours of searching for solutions when working with open source code on specialized forums, we compiled a list of the most “vulnerable” places of the system that impede store development on the Internet:

         1. Slow page loading speed. 

A common problem for all categories: home, catalog, product page, blog page, etc. Today, the issue of page loading speed is one of the important points in the development of your project. Google marks this parameter in a number of key ways when promoting a website on the Internet. And, unfortunately, xt:Commerce didn’t provide tools for optimizing pages for download speed. It means that you can’t solve this problem without a specialist.

         2. Low productivity. 

This is one of the important criteria why large online retailers rarely choose xt:Commerce. Carrying out load testing of the project, you can count on up to 3000 one-time visits, after which the sessions show errors and problems with download speed. In the worst scenario, the website may completely fall and remain inaccessible until you manually solve the reboot issue.

         3. The lack of an adaptive version or its incorrect operation. 

Earlier stores on versions 4 and 5 have a frequent problem with mobile adaptation. Either it’s absent, or it has a large number of bugs, lack of hyphenation in layout, and incorrectly working functionality that interferes with the normal operation of the site. And this is the loss of potential customers and company income, as well as reputation in the eyes of customers. Also, it causes big problems with the SEO-promotion of the storeresource.

         4. Weakly developed community.

Yes, xt:Commerce has information- tech support, as well as an open platform for communication and collective problem-solving. However, there is no 100% probability that they will answer the question asked. In fact, when studying topics, you will find dozens of comments that were ignored and themes with a flood. Silence on the forum is also one of the problems that you or your programmer will encounter when working on a project on the xt:Commerce platform.

         5.There are no basic SEO tools. 

For example, to fill the Sitemap on a site, you need to install a plug-in additionally or involve a specialist. For example such platforms as Shopware and Magento Unlike Shopware, which provides basic functionality for this task, theseis systems don’tesn't supply with such an opportunity. Of course, everything can be installed and configured through plugins. However, the problem of synchronization and errors between plugins in xt:Commerce, as in other CMS, has not been solved yet. Therefore, the more basic functions will be embedded in the platform’s functionality, the fewer synchronization problems you will have in the future.

         6. Doubles formation. 

This CMS is prone to forming duplicate pages: from filters, categories, pagination, etc. This creates problems with the uniqueness of the content, induces difficulties for the SEO promotiondepartment, and generally indicates a “not healthy” websiteresource.

         7. Problems after the upgrade. 

When updating a CMS-system to a new version (not migration), often there are problems with the synchronization of plugins, as well as the correct running of the functionsal. Many xt:Commerce users complain about this problem in the official support forum. The caching problem is especially relevant. There could be problems with cleaning the cached data after updating. It means that the updates on the site aren’t displayed. Therefore, it’s important to have paid access to xt:Commerce tech support.

These are the main difficulties that you might face when deploying a site on xt:Commerce. There is one more nuance that may please someone or upset: the company plans to convert the platform into a closed-source format. After that, the ability to create a variety of resources will decrease and, possibly, the system performance will increase. But we can just be wondering.

xt:Commerce - could it be better?

In general, this is the 14th most popular platform among all ecommerce CMS systems in the DACH region, and the 15th most popular in Germany. This system provides the necessary set of functions and capabilities for creating and developing SMBsmall and medium-sized online stores. Its main advantage is the low cost. This parameter makes it very attractive in the eyes of a new business. A large number of plugins and solutions developed for all occasions, accelerate the process of creating a template and popular functions on the site, as well as allow you to use marketing and sales tools. However, when compared with more popular platforms in Germany, xt:Commerce loses in the creation of statistics, the provision of analytical data, and the speed of solving technical problems.

Since 2017, there has been a tendency to migrate from xt:Commerce to more advanced platforms in the chase of marketing and technology. Today it’s not enough to have a website with a product card and an online-shop carta basket. The intense competition imposes the need to use built-in marketing tools, such as statistics, the implementation of a loyalty system, mailing lists, and other strategies for increasing sales. All of these are provided by the leaders of the ecommerce CMS segment in Germany. You can find out who they are, what they offer, and on what conditions they work from our article “TOP-7 CMS in Germany”.