Choosing the most suitable E-Commerce platform, or tool, for your online store is a very important factor, as it can hugely be responsible for either the success or the failure of a business. This is especially important for small businesses which have to make do with limited resources and budgets. So we have compiled a list of points, displaying the comparison between two of the most popular ECommerce tools on the web right now: Magento vs Shopify.
These points should help make things a little bit clearer so that you can decide which of these two you want to use to create, manage and maintain your own store:
You don’t have to pay money to download the Community Edition. However, if you’d like to upgrade to the Enterprise Edition, however, you do need to request a quote. Magento is open source, so you have access to a community forum and mobile responsive themes. An app store comes with your account, and you can sell an unlimited amount of products.
Shopify is a commercial product (that you need to pay for). Different rates for its packages are:
9 USD/ month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
29 USD/ month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
79 USD/ month + 2.6% + 30¢ credit card fees
179 USD/ month + 2.4% + 30¢ credit card fees
Magento Community Edition can connect to an FTP client, making it easier to edit files if you’re an advanced user. However, the files can be confusing at times. The Magento Theme Marketplace has around 120 themes, some of which are free while others are paid. You should expect to pay around $50 to $150 for a quality theme. However, you need to keep in mind that not all of them are vetted for quality.
Shopify has 116 premium ones and 21 free options. Although most of its themes are very similar to each other, all of them are super sleek and powerful, and you can adapt the themes without touching any code, and you gain access to source code files if needed. An FTP account, however, is not provided.
The front end has coupon codes, a sleek checkout, gift cards and a customer dashboard. The built-in features include upsells and cross-sells, related products, wishlists, quantity discounts, a saved shopping cart and an order status module. You can also incorporate zoomable images, re-orders, and product reviews.
The frontend is responsive for viewing on mobile devices, and it provides a nice checkout area and a minimalist design. It depends on the plan you choose, but you can integrate with Facebook and Pinterest, and a simple point of sale comes along with your purchase. You receive a website and blog, along with discount codes, real-time shipping, and gift cards. Customer profiles can be improved with tweaking.
Although it may be confusing for beginners, the backend is extremely robust. You can move around the dashboard with ease, and access reports and analytics right on the dashboard. You can also manage payment processors, integrate with Authorize.net or PayPal, and even sell virtual products. Along with product tags, you can sort customers, use marketing features, set unlimited product attributes and more.
Shopify provides a backend for both beginners and advanced users, keeping options to a minimum, but you can open up advanced features and customize certain parts of the source code. Similar to WordPress, the dashboard has tabs for checkout, payments, shipping, taxes, general settings and notifications. The system also provides links and modules for support documents, videos and contact information. If you plan on adding a product, a few tabs show up for making gift cards, managing inventory, creating collections and more. Fields are offered for things like vendors, collections, pricing, SEO tools, and shipping.
SEO – Magento provides powerful SEO features like SEO friendly URLs, meta info (like Shopify,) a Google sitemap and a handy Google Content API for expanding on your SEO customization. Both solutions can integrate with Google Analytics.
Social Media – No social media features are included, but you can integrate just about any app you want to make your site social friendly.
Newsletter – Magento offers a newsletter subscription management feature, where you can integrate the system with coupon codes, although most people still use a system like MailChimp to send out nicely designed emails.
Built-in promotion options – Magento Community has a particularly impressive built-in promotions category, since you receive features for upselling, promotional pricing, flexible coupons, related products, free shipping, product bundling and more. All of this is included, and you can also turn to the app store if needed.
Support of other selling channels – Custom coding and the app store is your friend when looking to sell through other channels. The Google Shopping API is available, but this takes some development knowledge.
SEO – Shopify has the basic essentials for SEO, with robots.txt and sitemap.xml files, Canonical URL tags, and editable meta descriptions, URLs, and title tags. The setup for SEO is clean and compact.
Social Media – Shopify provides a few social media features, such as access to product sales on Pinterest and Facebook. However, most other social media buttons and integrations require an app of some sort.
Newsletter – In Shopify, you can generate a page to implement a newsletter signup form. It’s not that powerful of a system, but you can integrate with big time solutions like MailChimp and AWeber. If you can’t find what you need for a newsletter, you can also go with an app. However, the built-in subscription management is not great.
Built-in promotion options – Discount codes and coupons come with your plan. You typically have to turn to the app store to find solutions for promotions, but that’s still a huge advantage since you have the option.
Support of other selling channels – Using Shopify, you can sell through Google Products. It takes some development experience to make this integration, but that’s normal for anywhere else as well. You can simply look at the app store to find options for selling through places like Amazon and eBay.
Stats are easily viewable from the dashboard, which is an extremely helpful feature. The other reports are super comprehensive, but more complex. Some of the reports include details like sales, taxes, refunds, invoices, low stock reports, abandoned shopping carts, product review reports, best-viewed products and more. There’s also an area to see what keywords people are searching to find your site.
Shopify’s reports are amazing, being extremely easy to access and understand. You can check out your gross sales, along with traffic from locations, landing pages, referrers, devices and more. Order sales are shown by billing address, channels, and hours. Gross sales are broken down by traffic referrer, SKU, product title and more.
Although the security provided by Magento is quite solid, you must look for your own hosting plan with Magento Community. This means you need to seek out a hosting company and pay from $3 to $50 per month, or even more. That’s not a huge problem, but some might find it tedious. You also have to buy your own domain name. Other than that, it is PCI Certified and SSL security support is offered for the front and backend. You may also have to sign up for your own CDN depending on if you need it or not.
Shopify provides hosting when you sign up for a plan. This means you get a secure hosting account and a domain for your site. ServerCentral hosting is an enterprise level hosting platform. Automatic backups and Level 1 PCI compliance are also provided making it quite easy to setup hosting.
The Magento Extension Store (magentocommerce.com/magento-connect) actually has far more apps for you to choose from, but some of them are less reliable, since some developers may make apps that don’t work that well. You must first download the app and then upload it to your store, however, you shouldn’t have a problem finding app solutions in the Magento store, ranging from email receipts to live chats.
The Shopify app store (apps.shopify.com) has hundreds of options, ranging from accounting to email marketing. Some of them are free, while others you must pay for. The apps are the best part of Shopify, and they are quite easy to install.
The only support you get is through the community support forums. If you like searching to find your own answers, this is a huge benefit, since tons of people from around the globe contribute to the forums. However, if you’d like to speak with a customer support rep, you’re out of luck.
Shopify offers dedicated support with hired reps who are waiting for your call. You can contact them on a 24/7 basis through live chat, email or phone. They even have a powerful blog, something called Ecommerce University, forums, and a knowledge base.
Based on the factors discussed above, the response to this question is in the lines of ‘it depends’. If maintaining a strategic distance from exchange charges or incorporating your store effectively with Ebay are major issues for you, then Magento is likely a superior alternative; if, then again, convenience, boundless transmission capacity, and the ability to blog effortlessly are imperative components for you, then you’ll most likely need to opt for Shopify. This is ambiguous to an extent, however it’s a matter of coordinating your individual prerequisites with the capabilities and features offered by both. So, to sum it up, we’d say that Shopify is most appropriate for entrepreneurs who need to set up an online store, yet don’t have the right stuff or the monetary allowance to get busy on a web development project. Magento, with its open source features, is apparently a more adaptable option, however getting your store to where you need it to be will possibly involve essentially more exertion and time.