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Shopify vs Magento ecommerce

Is Shopify the right platform for our business or would Magento be better? Is Magento 'over kill' for what we want to do? These are commonly asked questions by our clients, looking to setup an ecommerce website for their business.

Whether Shopify is right for your business will depend on quite a few things; the functionality you need, your budget and how your business operates. In this article we share our thoughts on Shopify vs Magento in order to help you decide which is the most suitable ecommerce platform for your business.

Shopify vs Magento - which is the best?


An Introduction to Shopify


Let's look at both companies first; Magento was first released on 31st March 2008 whereas Shopify was founded back in 2004, making Shopify approximately 4 years older than Magento. Shopify was founded by Scott Lake, Daniel Weinand and Tobias Lutke, who at the time wanted to market their snowboarding equipment online. They found the current ecommerce solutions available disappointing, as none of them matched up to their requirements. Tobias, who was also a computer programmer, began to build a custom platform for their store and development on Shopify began. Having successfully built their own website, the team went onto launch Shopify in 2006.

An Introduction to Magento

The birth of Magento was somewhat different; it was originally developed in early 2007 by a US company in California called Varien Inc, many volunteers contributed to its development. The first release was made available on March 31 2008. Varien then sold a considerable amount of the company to eBay, who subsequently went on to purchase the newly formed company in June 2011, then in November 2015 Magento Commerce was launched as a private company backed by Permira, a private European equity firm.

Shopify vs Magento - the cost differences

Ok so that's a little history lesson on Shopify and Magento, now let's move onto the actual software itself - Magento has two platforms, the Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Edition, the Community Edition is free to download whereas the Enterprise Edition is a payable. The Community Edition enjoys a host of great features as does the Enterprise Edition, although the latter offers even more. 

Magento Community edition is free to download, it does however require a powerful server to host it upon and this is not free. Magento can be a 'resource hungry' system, with appropriate servers costing as much as £800 per month, sometimes more.

Currently, at the time of writing this article, the price for Magento Enterprise Edition is over $18,000. (£1372 GBP approximately)

Shopify is set up using a different monthly payment system, and it is a hosted solution -users don't have the hassle or cost of setting up an expensive server and paying for web hosting as lightening fast servers are already provided. Shopify have Lite, Basic, Professional, Business and Unlimited plans available; Lite costs just $9 per month but will not provide an ecommerce solution, just Point of Sale, Basic costs just $29 per month and is an affordable system which even offers a free trial.

Magento requires ongoing maintenance - a separate cost, in order to keep your website updated and security patched, this may be relatively quick or more time consuming depending on the nature of the update.

Shopify includes all maintenance and security updates in their fees.

Magento has a blog extension available, however some users find it useful to install WordPress along side for its additional features. Shopify has a built in blog for you to keep your visitors updated with news and events.

Shopify vs Magento - how easy are they to use?

Using Shopify is straightforward, little or no training is needed - this statement is backed by many of our Shopify clients. New users to Magento will require some form of training, it is a highly customisable platform and is of a more complex nature.

Shopify vs Magento - how extendable are they?

Both Shopify and Magento platforms are extendable and have many apps or extensions available to help add extra functionality. Magento comes with some impressive features. When you use Magento you have the ability to setup more than one store. You can also control them all from one administration panel.

Shopify vs Magento - which is better for SEO?

Both platforms are great for SEO and are SEO friendly. You have complete control of your content. Insert page titles, meta descriptions and editing relevant content to improve SEO.

Shopify vs Magento - our verdict

This very much depends on your budget and the functionality needed. Magento currently has a wider choice of extensions than Shopify plus more developers and experts globally too. For some businesses Magento will be a more suitable platform, but for others Shopify will be more than adequate. Before you decide on whether to use Magento or Shopify please consider your future business plans and what you want your website to do.

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