Shopify vs. Magento: Seeking the Best eCommerce Platform
Magento 2 has been available now for a couple years, and as the old version is phased out, more store owners are faced with the decision to upgrade or migrate to another platform. Shopify has gained a lot of momentum and popularity, and could be a viable solution to the issue.
The question for merchants is usually ‘Why should I switch to Shopify’, and for that reason we will put the two side by side for a comparison.
At the core, Shopify is a commercial e-commerce platform that is paid on a subscription basis, and Magneto is a free and open-source software.
Shopify is self-hosted and can be set up in a matter of minutes, while Magento requires hosting, install, setup and configuration for your entire site before you can even start building and branding your store. Overall, setting up a Magento store requires medium to high level of web development and programming skills.
THE BIG PLAYERS
There are many players in the modern day e-commerce space, such as Wix, Wordpress and WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, Big Cartel and more. For each and every option, all have positives, differences (some more subtle than others,) and all have some downsides.
But today, we’re focusing on comparing two of the leading platforms, Shopify and Magento. Both are major players with a solid track record and offer ‘tiers’ to their service, making them suitable for both small businesses looking to launch and grow and major enterprises, which are already doing $100k + per month in sales.
YOUR BUSINESS SIZE
There are different types of Shopify and Magento platforms so you can set yourself up on the right version for the size of your business.
Shopify offers multiple tiers, such as Shopify Lite that gets you selling on Facebook and processing payments. You can also add a Shopify buy button to most websites for around $9 per month. Then there are three tiers of standard Shopify that most stores will use, priced according to their features (which are Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify).
For startups and smaller businesses, we recommend Advanced Shopify for the easy setup and affordable operating costs. Shopify is fully hosted and you pay a flat fee per month, which includes maintenance of the platform. You will also often pay for premium apps on a per month basis, which help you avoid custom development costs, but those can add up quickly. Great built in features like abandoned cart emails, reporting, and gift cards are baked into Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans.
Magento is free to download; however, you’re responsible for your own hosting, which depending on your scale can run into become very expensive. Many Magento apps have one-off fees or annual license fees, but overall you will need to pay experts to integrate most of your Magento components, which Shopify doesn’t require.
In summary, both platforms require a paid investment, but they both charge in different ways. If you’re looking for more of a one-stop-shop that takes less custom development work and charges low monthly fees to minimize management then Shopify has the edge.
HOSTING AND DOMAINS
Shopify & Magento both allow you to have your own domain linked to your store.
A major difference is that Shopify is a wholly hosted solution that can be set up in minutes, and Magento needs separate hosting, download, installation and set-up.
Shopify delivers world-leading security and hosting already in place, perfect for growing businesses. Magento gives you responsibility for your hosting and security, which can add costs and increase a risk of downtime or hacks.
THEMES & DESIGN
Both Shopify and Magento use themes to create a design framework for your website. For both platforms, some are free, and the better quality ones with abundant features cost a one-time fee of around $150 or less. Theme updates are available for download free of charge once you have purchased the theme once.
We’re a little biased here, but we firmly believe that Shopify themes are far better from a design and user-experience (UX) standpoint, and are more mobile and tablet friendly straight out of the box. If you want modern style and sophistication, Shopify is a standout.
There are far more Magento themes to choose from, but Shopify delivers quality vs quantity. Who wants to dig through themes all day anyway?
From a technical standpoint, Shopify themes are one-click to install and easily modified with user friendly visual customizer to implement your logos, colors, and branding. Magento themes are more complex to install, and difficult to modify, often requiring a third party developer.
When it comes to design and UX, you’ll have a better looking website and easier to use theme with Shopify, without question.
PRODUCT AND INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
When your store is live, as the site owner, you need to be able to update your new products and features quickly and easily.
In the backend, both Shopify & Magento have a section where you can add and edit your products and variants. Both offer a bulk upload feature, and both have the capability to be linked to your stock management or warehouse data.
However, Shopify is much easier to use when you’re adding and editing your products and categories, with a much more user-friendly interface. If you’re not a pro coder, Shopify is easier to use when it comes to managing your products. For more information on how to properly add Shopify products, see our blog post here!
APPS AND INTEGRATIONS
Apps and integrations are the elements that customize your consumer experience. For example, loyalty programs, shipping choices, SEO tools and pop-ups can all be achieved via apps.
When it comes to the wish list of features you wrote up when envisioning your store, many will be included in your template, and any extras can come from the App store. You’ll find cost of goods, size charts, and marketing apps right in the store for free or a small monthly fee. For enterprise clients, wholesale stores and checkout scripts can be customized with Shopify Plus.
Magento also offers Community for small businesses (and Enterprise for larger brands). Both platforms offer a level for what you need, but Shopify offers more ‘out of the box’ options and flexibility for smaller and start-up businesses.
It’s one thing to set your site up, and another thing to drive customers there to shop. Every site needs a solid traffic-driving strategy which usually encompasses SEO (search engine optimization), AdWords, digital advertising and remarketing, social media, content and more.
At the core of it, with recent and ongoing Google updates being what they are, you need to have a solid SEO proposition in your online store. Both platforms offer major SEO capabilities to deliver search engine traffic, and they are almost neck-and-neck on the SEO front. However, Shopify’s built-in integrations for the Facebook pixel and Google analytics are dummy proof, with one click simplicity.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At Electric Eye, we’re e-commerce experts and trained marketers.
We focus on Shopify, because we want to offer our clients a fantastic platform that will deliver a clear set of sales funnels, be easy to operate and use, look amazing and deliver a great customer experience. We work directly with Shopify to help our clients forget about the difficulties of technology within e-commerce, so they can focus on growing their business.