Which E-Commerce Platform is Right for You: Shopify vs Magento
Jul 11, 2017
Shopify vs Magento
When selling products or services on the Internet, you never operate in a vacuum. If your customers and prospects find you using search engines such as Google and Bing, it is very likely that they have not just one, but several tabs open in their browsers and are comparing you and your products and services to your competition. Can your e-commerce platform help? Shopify vs Magento, which platform is right for you?
What are your priorities when choosing an e-commerce platform?
For this reason, before you start comparing various e-commerce platforms, you should think about your business, your competition, your goals and priorities. Shopify vs Magento?
Here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself when deciding Shopify vs Magento:
– How much product do you think you will sell online? What are these projections based on?
– What is the potential of selling online and scaling for your business? Are you selling to people in your geographical area only or are your customers located all over the world?
– What about inventory and different locations? Are you selling just a few SKUs or do you have tens, hundreds or thousands of products in multiple physical locations?
– What is more important to you: getting started quickly or building an ecommerce platform that you can scale as your sales and volume grow?
– Who will set up and maintain your online store? Do you currently have a person or a team that will be able to handle this task or will you need to hire someone?
– Do you need to integrate your online store with any proprietary software or platforms?
Once you answer these questions, you are ready to choose an ecommerce platform that is right for you. In this guide we will review two most popular ecommerce platforms: Shopify and Magento.
Magento vs Shopify: the basics
Magento calls itself “the platform for explosive growth.” It claims that 200 merchants out of the top 1000 Internet retailers use Magento vs 12 using Shopify. While this claim is factually correct, it doesn’t mean that Shopify doesn’t have big brands as clients. The list of businesses that use Shopify to run their ecommerce sites includes such brands as Budweiser, The Economist, Penguin Books, Tesla Motors, Red Bull, New York Stock Exchange and others.
Magento has two editions: the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition.
The Community Edition is free. It comes with zero support (Magento does have forums and a community of users), which means that you will either need to be technically inclined and willing to spend quite a bit of time figuring things out or you will need to hire someone and pay them to set everything for you.
Magento Community Edition also needs hosting. You will either need to have your own server infrastructure to use the platform or buy hosting for the system.
With Magento Enterprise you won’t have to worry about hosting or traffic. The company will monitor the environment for you. However, the Enterprise Edition comes at a hefty price tag. As of writing of this review, the recurring annual fee is $18,000.
Shopify is a software-as-a-service platform, meaning that the company will host your store for you and you don’t have to worry about technical issues. Shopify has a 14 day free trial. After the trial you can choose between Basic, Standard or Advanced option. The basic option is $29/month, standard (called simply “Shopify”) is $79/month and advanced is $299/month.
For brands with large sales volumes Shopify has a platform called Shopify Plus. Shopify Plus pricing is available by quote only. It depends on specific requirements such as volume of sales, volume of traffic and others.
The differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus
The main differences between Shopify and Shopify Plus are the following:
1. When using Shopify, you pay a monthly fee and transaction fees. There are no transaction fees in Shopify Plus.
2. Shopify typically moves customers to its own domain during the checkout process. With Shopify Plus you can have your own fully branded checkout on your own domain.
3. As a Shopify Plus client, you will get a dedicated account manager that will know the history of your account and your goals. Your account manager can also help you with customizations that are not available with regular Shopify plans. This is one of the best features of Shopify Plus if you have high volumes of traffic and sales and are looking to get things done without any interruptions.
4. Ability to create “store clones” to sell in different countries.
At this point you may be wondering why someone would use Magento Community Edition and have to deal with all the technical issues or pay tens of thousands of dollars for Magento Enterprise edition when basic Shopify package is $29/month.
The answer lies in the differences between the platforms. Below we describe the most important ones.
Merchant account fees
When you use one of the basic Shopify plans, Shopify changes transaction fees for the payments your customers make using the platform, including external payment gateways. The fees for external payment gateways range from 2% to 0.5% depending on the Shopify package you choose. With Shopify Plus, you will not incur any transaction fees. This means that if your sales volumes are very high, it may make sense for you to go with Shopify Plus or Magento from the very beginning.
Language support is another big difference between basic Shopify plans and Magento. Magento has several built-in languages, including Spanish, German, Italian, French and Russian. Shopify does not offer multi-lingual support in its basic plans. Shopify Plus does have an option to create store clones for different countries in different languages.
Shopify and Magento have significant differences when it comes to channel capabilities.
Shopify does an excellent job making it possible to sell through most popular channels including selling on Facebook through Shopify Facebook App. However, Shopify has only mainstream platforms incorporated by default.
If you are a physical retailer, Shopify does offer a point-of-sale solution, but you will have to pay fees when using it unless you are using Shopify Plus.
Magento offers full customization with any channel you want. You will have two options: getting an extension from Magento or one of its partners or creating one yourself. The latter may be costly, but it will be able to accomplish almost any kind of integration that you may need or want. Magento is also able to work with several providers of point-of-sale systems and you won’t have to pay any fees per transaction to Magento.
Shopify is a platform that was created with small and medium business in mind. It has an inventory interface that’s really simple to use. You will have an opportunity to add items directly or add them via an excel spreadsheet. If you get enterprise levels of traffic and are using Shopify Plus, you can discuss your customization needs with your dedicated account manager.
Magento stands out if you need to manage your inventory by store location and have multiple product variations when it comes to colors, sizes and other parameters. With Magento you have an option of setting up an import spreadsheet the way that works for you, which makes it easier to update the system. In addition to this, Magento has more options when it comes to integrations with distribution software.
Extensions and integrations
Shopify is a more restricted platform compared to Magento. Magento not only has more applications and extensions, but it also has forums and an active community of users and. It also has meetups and events all over the world where you’ll be able to meet other Magento users and discuss various issues and solutions.
If you are using Shopify Plus, you will get an opportunity to get things customized and done with the help of your account manager.
Both platforms come with their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are a small business and are looking to try selling 30-50 products online and see how it goes, you should choose Shopify, get started quickly and test the waters.
If you are a large business, but you don’t have a big IT team or don’t want to be spending a lot of time and resources figuring the technical things out, Shopify Plus is a great way to go. You will get an account manager who will help you find the right solutions for your ecommerce store.
If you have large inventory, need high-level sales channel customization that Shopify can’t provide, then Magento is the platform for you.