Magento and Shopify – you definitely must have heard of these two terms if have researched about ecommerce platforms or have had an experience with mid market online retail. These are two of the most popular and accessible platforms in the market and widely preferred options for several small business owners and entrepreneurs who are willing to have their online store.
Ever wondered what makes Shopify and Magento the most sought after options? What are the pros and cons of both the platforms? If you are confused as to which one to choose out of the two, the following insights will help you decide better.
Shopify is a fast growing ecommerce platform which is mostly used by retailers who want to sell online but don’t have any technical knowhow. It was launched in the year 2006 and provides different packages including a new version. The best part about a Shopify store is that it takes a few minutes to set it up. As soon as you choose one of the packages, sign up for a trial and set up a payment gateway, you can start selling your products online.
Shopify provides a lot of ease for anyone and everyone who is willing to sell things online. It also has ‘buy’ buttons for campaigns, effortless POS integration and Facebook stores.
Magento is one the largest ecommerce platforms in the world. Currently, it is used by more than 240,000 retailers. The platform is powerful enough to handle small business as well as huge retail stores like Hermes, Paul Smith, Ford, Nike etc. It was launched in the year 2007, and provides a free (Community Edition) as well as a paid (Enterprise Edition) version for building an online store. Magento has remained unbeaten due to its community which has contributed towards its growth and has published a lot of documentation online. Moreover there are thousands of Magento extensions and modules which help the Magento merchants to save significant development hours.
Shopify Vs Magento: A Comparison
1. Hosting Environment
- Shopify is a hosted platform. So you don’t have to worry about hosting the store, maintaining it and updating the modules from time to time. It is just right for the small business owners who don’t know how to deal with technology and software related issues. There are other platforms like Demandware, Bigcommerce, Volusion etc. However, Shopify remains to be the favourite one. It enables merchants to focus on running their ecommerce store rather than mulling over the technology and software related glitches.
- Magento, on the other hand, is self-hosted. This means that retailers have to manage their own servers and keep themselves updated about the software. You can also seek professional help from your hosting partners or ask Magento development agencies to help. However, all this asks for a lot of effort on the part of retailers. One of the biggest advantages of Magento is that you can have complete control over your store and make changes according to your requirements. For eg, If you want to host a WordPress blog on the same server, you can easily do it with the help of Magento as you are managing the server on your own. This kind of customization is difficult to implement on Shopify.
2. Software Functionalities
If you are starting with your one-man venture, you must know about the way you can traverse around both the ecommerce platforms. So here’s how you can work on both these platforms.
- Shopify has an intuitive and simple interface which can make it easy for the retailers to understand. You just need to add your products, create and manage categories, add different modules etc. Also, even if you have a team of different administrative members handling your store, there are hardly any features which can cause major problems with your estore. It also provides you with control over advanced areas like order confirmation emails, tax settings, delivery options, front end editing etc.
- Magento is a little complex for small business owners as it has been designed to aid larger businesses. The admin interface of Magento requires the store managers to be well-acquainted with the system to be able to use it. And as it is a flexible platform, there are several modules in the admin section which can prove to be helpful and overwhelming at the same time. However, the Admin interface in Magento 2.0 is quite similar to Shopify making it intuitive for someone who is not used to working around Magento.
In short, Magento is perfect for large ecommerce retailers whereas Shopify serves a good purpose for small business.
3. Themes and Templates
- Magento might have some edge over Shopify when it comes to themes and templates. Retailers who have chosen Magento, can make use of several themes and templates available on Magento Connect marketplace and other websites like UberTheme, ThemeForest, etc.
- Shopify provides more than 100 themes and templates at themes.shopify.com, and several other ones like Theme Forest and Template Monster. You will come across several agencies as well as developer & designer teams who often come up with new themes for Magento stores, as there is more demand for custom themes for Magento stores.
Both Shopify and Magento provide premium and free themes. But there are more cost-effective options in Magento. If you opt for Shopify’s premium themes, they start with a much higher range as compared to the ones offered by Magento Connect.
But beware of the fact that there are a many off-shore developers who create vulnerable and poorly coded themes and coax people in other countries to buy them. It is better to stay away from such themes. Conduct proper research as to which theme/templates are useful for your business and whether or not they will fulfill your business requirements.
4. Costs involved
- Shopify has 3 major plans:
Apart from the above they also have a Lite Plan ($9 per month) for those just testing the waters and an unlimited plan for large business with enterprise grade requirements.
- As Magento is an open source platform, you can download and install the CE software for free. But it is important for you to consider the hosting expense which can cost anything from $64 to $129 every month for shared hosting and much higher for cloud hosting, especially if you go for leading cloud hosting providers like Amazon Web Services. There are several Magento hosting companies like UKfast, Nexcess, Peer1, Sonassi etc. However, it is better to seek advice from an expert to decide on a hosting company as it isn’t as easy as you think.
If you are hiring a Magento development company to build your ecommerce store, you also have to count their fees. This can cost you around $1200 if you outsource. If you get it done from within your areas, it can cost more. Especially, if your website is complex and involves a lot of integrations. A basic Magento store must have the following features and modules:
- Merchandising module
- Search solution
- Solution for product reviews
- One page checkout
- Payment gateway
- SEO module
However, as mentioned above, you can have more requirements based on your business and get modules added accordingly. Needless to say, it will require you to shell out some money.
5. Who Helps You Make Better Sales?
Shopify might lag behind in this matter. This is because the basic plan of Shopify doesn’t support sales, discount codes and coupons. With Magento’s basic version, you can do a lot with a purchasing process which includes cross-selling, up-selling and making product comparisons without installing any extensions. There are settings to provide discount from the entire purchase amount when certain products are added to the cart, providing cheap deliveries on the first buy and offering a free gift along with the purchase. This freedom to play with the settings comes as easy as writing your offers on a blackboard at a brick-and-mortar shop.
Although the advanced plans in Shopify provide you with the facility to make promotions and offers and you can take care of it without getting any help from a developer, it is nothing compared to the personalized experience you can provide to your customers on Magento.
6. What About Marketing?
Both Magento and Shopify have the potential to boost the visibility and conversion of your ecommerce store. They are also brilliant with SEO related activities which isn’t the case with other platforms.
- You can extend Magento with extensions that enable you to make the most out of hreflang, have control over dynamic pages, and canonical URLs, get structured data, redirect management, etc.
- Shopify doesn’t help you achieve most of these features. This might prove to be problematic for larger stores.
Magento Connect has different modules for personalisation, social integration, landing page creation, etc. And Shopify is popular for its social capabilities which include shoppable pins, social sign on etc. These features cannot be achieved with Magento. However, you are always free to add extensions.
7. Support and Maintenance
- Shopify provides both dedicated as well as community based support. Retailers can obtain 24/7 support and also look through discussion forums. This kind of support proves to be quite valuable for merchants who take care of the store on their own.
- With Magento, you have to rely on community based support. This means that you will not find any customer service representatives to resolve your issues. So in case there are issues on your Magento store, you have to search on Magento forums and handle problems on your own. And in case you cannot resolve the problem, you can always partner with a Magento agency that can offer you with all the support you need.
Shopify is a good option if you are just starting out in ecommerce and don’t understand much about ecommerce technology. With Shopify you can just focus on merchandising and retailing and leave the technology part to the Shopify folks. This approach works well for many. If you are one of them, Shopify is the way to go.
However, if you are confident about the technology part and are serious about growing your store into a big ecommerce business or want complete control over your store, then Magento is the perfect option for you. It would require a one time investment on server infrastructure and store development. But once that is taken care of, you can spend all your money on marketing your store and growing your business without sharing the proceeds with anyone.