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Choosing an eCommerce Platform: Magento versus Shopify

eCommerce Platforms    |    Magento    |    Shopify

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Sarah Browning

Magento vs Shopify

The task of choosing which eCommerce platform to grow and revolutionize your business with can often be overwhelming with the plethora of information available to you. It is important to understand the features of the most powerful and most popular ecommerce platforms and harness these capabilities to support the goals you have for your online business. In turn, the correct platform can help boost revenue, conversion rates, and overall direct site traffic. Magento and Shopify are two leaders in the industry of ecommerce platforms. This analysis will include comparisons of the following key aspects of the two platforms:

  • Initial Setup
  • Online Store Functionality
  • Customization
  • Scalability
  • Community and Support

 

Magento vs. Shopify

Magento is a highly popular self-hosted platform that supports thousands of online business ranging from individual store owners to established well-known brands. It was launched in 2007 with a Free version and a paid Enterprise version and is known for its high level of customization and flexibility.

Shopify is a hosted platform targeted toward business owners that are looking to build a very dynamic online presences in a short amount of time with minimal technical aspects or requirements. It was founded in 2004 and offers a paid solution for businesses looking to expand the way they sell, ship, and manage their products.

Initial Set Up

Hosting

Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform, meaning that you would not be faced with finding your own host or any of the associated costs. Magento does require that you provide your own hosting. With this you will also install, setup, and configure these technicalities prior to actually building your store.

Costs

Both of these platforms are free to set up, with Shopify offering a 14 day trial to begin. In the long term, Shopify offers four different plans that have monthly fees ranging from $29 to $179. Magento offers a variety of plans, one of which is totally free to use. However, it is important to keep in mind that because Magento is an open source software, they do not provide hosting. You will need to provide this at a cost of between $5 and $100 monthly.

Ease of Use

Magento is known for its advanced and robust features which often require the assistance of web developers to build a site.  Shopify was designed with to be used without having a background in development. This can be seen in its drag and drop areas and its simple quick set up steps. Both platforms provide for a well-designed and organized user interface that will make for a pleasant user experience.

Online Store Functionality

Overall, online store functionality is crucial to conversion rates as well as generating revenue. Shopping carts, collections, checkout modules and product pages are all included in both of these platforms. Shopify is easy to set up and use, but Magento does provide much more in the way of advanced features that come built into the system.

Inventory Management

Both Shopify and Magento allow the business owner to create and sell an unlimited number of products in their store. Shopify has a direct integration to drop shipping inventory applications and allows users to use available extensions for flash sales, promotions, discounts etc. Magento has a similar basic inventory management system but stands out with the many advanced features it offers like product sizes and a large number of third-party services for integrating a distribution network.

Integrations

Shopify is equipped with built-in integration for synching an Amazon and an eBay store. It is also equipped with the capability to integrate social media and Google as well. Out of the box, Magento comes ready to sync with Facebook and Google. To sync with an Amazon or an eBay store, a paid extension is required. You can integrate email marketing automation software like Drip or MailChamp for free. With Magento, anything can be integrated with the help of a developer.

Payment Processors

Magento comes equipped with over 150 payment integration options in different languages and countries enabling international sales. Shopify supports over 100 different external payment processors as well as its own integrated payment processor called Shopify Payments. This option avoids transaction fees that are otherwise required by Shopify.

Performance

Depending on your choice in host, Magento may suffer issues with loading speed or server performance when too many products are added to your store. On the other hand the open source Magento allows you to choose your hosting environment and make the necessary adjustments to boost performance. Because Shopify is a fully hosted and managed solution this may not be a huge concern although you will have no control over your hosting environment or server-level adjustments.

Customization

Themes and Design

Both Shopify and Magento offer a variety of creative and professional templates and themes to suit your business products and personal taste. Each of these platforms offers options in the way of free themes and paid/premium themes which are all fully mobile responsive meaning they will auto-resize for devices of all sizes. These options only increase with the addition of more coding knowledge and the help of a website developer.

Scalability

SEO and Marketing

Shopify has a standard set of SEO options for the user. It offers the option to edit meta tags and optimize inventory as well as product pages. It also offers the option to modify a file structure that will enable search crawlers performance. Because Shopify is self-hosted, modifications on the server level are not a usable feature. Magento demonstrates a seamless customization process for both SEO and your custom digital marketing content. Being an open source platform, Magento offers more in the way of personalized SEO. It offers the adjustment of permalinks for inventory and meta content. It also takes advantage of no-follow links and redirects.

Community and Support

In the way of technical support when building your website, both platforms are equipped, Shopify provides 24/7 phone support, live chat and email availability. There is also a Shopify forum where business owners can discuss their experiences with the platform and offer advice to others. Magento also has a large support community including a resource database and forums as well. Most of these forums include Magento certified individuals and seasoned developers to answer your questions. Magento partner agencies are also a useful resource to get assistance with all things Magento

Takeaways

Shopify is an easy-to-use tool that allows anyone to build a store efficiently. It is a paid for hosted solution that appeals to beginners, small businesses, and those who prefer not to face highly technical requirements or processes but are looking for a quality way to showcase their products. Magento, the open source and free solution is full of advanced features and dynamic options to customize and grow a site. It does require you to purchase hosting and perform the software and system setup and installation on your own. This would be suited for more complex ecommerce sites with intermediate to high levels of programming/web development skills or a business with the budget to hire a team dedicated to these projects.

Side By Side Comparison

Magento

Numbers

Shopify

250,000Number of Sites Powered600,000
Self-HostedPerformanceHosted
$0Monthly PriceStarts from $29
UnlimitedCustomizationLimited
5,000

Free & Paid

Number of Apps and Add Ons

2,400

Paid

$0 – $499Theme Prices$0 – $180
UnlimitedPayment GatewayLimited
YesCustomer SupportYes

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