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Shopify Vs Magento ecommerce

Choosing the most suitable ecommerce platform for your business is essential, and more often than not the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful ecommerce store. This is true of any sized business – for smaller organisations it is vital as budgets and resources are often more limited. For larger organisations, it is important to ensure the platform offers sufficient functionality for more complex operations and larger product catalogues.

In the world of ecommerce, Shopify and Magento are both primary contenders. While both are excellent platforms with a great number of features, there are fundamental differences between the two. A clear understanding of these ecommerce platforms will enable you to make a better-informed decision.

Basic Online Store Functionality

Shopify

Both platforms offer basic online store functionality with a variety of tools. On an overall level, Shopify is straightforward to set up and easy to use, it was purposefully designed to be user friendly for the customer and merchant. It even offers online tutorials for beginners – however, Shopify's more basic plans restrict the number of items that you’re allowed to list in your store.

Magento

Magento on the other hand, allows you to sell an almost unlimited number of items from day one. The downside to this is it requires either lots of free time to learn how to use it, or contracting some kind of intermediary company with a specialised Magento developer for technical assistance.

Design and Customisation

Both platforms are highly customisable, offering the merchant a large selection of themes and templates. The two platforms also offer premium themes at varying prices.

Shopify's free themes have a slight edge over Magento's, with sleeker and more contemporary designs. They are also quick and easy to adapt, which is a great advantage for smaller businesses on a budget, as you don't have to pay a developer to make small adjustments.

Both Magento and Shopify allow the merchant to control the look and feel of the store, however the process for this is more straightforward when using Shopify, as it allows the user to change basic store attributes such as the font and colours via the menu. Magento offers practically unlimited customisation capabilities through open source code, but once again, a specialist web developer will be needed to manage the customisation.

Shopify and Magento Platform Features

Standard front-end and back-end features are available on the two platforms including:

  • customer dashboard
  • checkout
  • the ability for the merchant to load products and images
  • order management tools
  • inventory management tools
  • responsive: will adjust to various screen sizes such as mobile and tablet

Shopify offers more than enough features and tools, but how much you can do with the front end and admin area very much depends on which plan you choose. The Shopify admin interface was deliberately designed to be simple enough for the average merchant to be able to use without great difficulty. However, more advanced features are available if required, as well as access to, and the ability to customise, some of the code. This is ideal for small expanding businesses that may not initially need complex features, but can add more as and when they are needed. It is also suitable for supporting larger organisations.

Magento offers a wide range of more complex features which are immediately available, such as up-sell and cross-sell functionality, wishlists, related products, a complex discount system, saved shopping cart and more.

At the back end, Magento offers a powerful admin interface with numerous tools – access to reports and analytics are available on the dashboard. The merchant can also set up unlimited product attributes. More “out of the box” power is definitely offered by Magento, but this is not a suitable solution for all businesses – not every online store needs so many complex tools and many of these tools are aimed at those who are highly experienced in selling online.

Extending Shopify and Magento

There are many apps or extensions for both platforms from accounting, live chat, to email marketing and much more, all to help expand the functionality of your store. The Magento Extension Store is definitely at an advantage in terms of size; there are literally thousands of apps/extensions available at the extension store. However, due to the nature of an open source product, quality can vary between the apps/extensions. Magento apps/extensions also have to be downloaded and uploaded to the store making it a more complex process.

Shopify has plenty of apps/extensions available, although fewer than Magento. Shopify also allows the merchant to upload new apps/extensions from the Shopify dashboard, making it a much easier and quicker process.

Shopify and Magento Marketing Tools

Having your store found on Google and other search engines is extremely important. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) features are essential considerations when choosing an Ecommerce platform. The sheer amount of customisation options available in Magento make it slightly better for SEO, however, Shopify's SEO features are strong too.

The two platforms include all the basic SEO features such as automatic XML Sitemaps, the ability to change meta information and more. Depending on the plan you choose, many other marketing tools are also available. All popular social media apps can be integrated onto both platforms, Shopify has the added benefit of allowing users to access product sales on Facebook and Pinterest. Blogging is a built-in feature on Shopify, whereas an app has to be installed on Magento.

Shopify and Magento offer comprehensive reporting tools, although Shopify's are easier for the average user to access and understand. Magento offers a wider range of more powerful and complex reporting tools, but accessing and understanding them, again requires a higher level of technical skill. To make the most of your marketing opportunities on either platform, you'll likely have to pay a trip to the app/extension store to see what's available.

Security

Both platforms are secure and are used by highly reputable organisations.

Shopify has no open source version, therefore none of its underlying codebase and structure is ever released to the public. Shopify also has developers working specifically in the security department, continuously strengthening the system.

Magento Community is open source software, therefore any vulnerabilities exposed in the structure and code will need to be fixed by a skilled Magento developer, this also comes at a cost.

For Magento Enterprise users, the security updates are applied under the support subscription – this can be extremely costly, amounting to over £1,100 per month.

Web Hosting Solutions

Shopify provides hosting as part of its paid package, providing the merchant with secure hosting and a domain name. The fully hosted Shopify solution includes:

Magento is a notoriously hungry platform for server and database resources, the hosting must be up to the job to deliver a website with good performance. Magento Enterprise will require its own server(s) and in general, more complex hosting, consisting of multiple servers performing different functions but all working together to ensure performance for a high-traffic and complex website.

Magento Community can be hosted on shared hosting, provided the server is powerful enough and has the resources to meet performance targets, especially during busy shopping periods such as in the run up to Christmas.

With the Magento Community Edition, store owners have to choose and purchase their own hosting plan and domain name. This is a minor issue for large organisations which can pay someone to do this, however many smaller to medium sized businesses may prefer the more straightforward option of Shopify’s all-inclusive package.

Platform Support

Shopify offers a comprehensive support team available for contact via phone, email or live chat. Magento Community on the other hand, comes nowhere close to this. The only support available is through their support forum, this benefits from having thousands of contributors across the globe and is very useful for developers, but does not however, provide any customer service. Magento Enterprise does provide support, although this is much more costly than the Shopify equivalent.

Ecommerce Platform Pricing

Shopify

Shopify is a fully hosted, paid solution –  first time users are offered a free trial period, and are required to pay after that. There are various different plans available, ranging in price and features, obviously the higher the cost, the greater the range of features available. Shopify will also take care of everything else, including web hosting and a domain name.

Although Shopify offers different plans, when making a comparison with Magento there are two plans worth considering – these are Shopify Advanced and Shopify Plus. Shopify Advanced is the highest specification “standard” Shopify package, whereas Shopify Plus is the flagship of the Shopify range and offers greater customisation as well as a dedicated account manager, 24/7 technical support and customisation of the checkout for a personalised look and feel.

A fully hosted solution, the Shopify Plus package includes: Hosting, PCI Compliance, CDN (Content Delivery Network) and SSL Certificate, this compared with our suggested Magento hosting costs, would amount to a minimum saving of:

Smaller website (Shopify Advanced) Minimum £300 pcm saving

Larger website (Shopify Plus) Minimum £1000 pcm saving

Magento

There are two different versions of Magento available – Magento Community Edition (CE), a free open source platform and Magento Enterprise Edition, a paid platform.

Although the two platforms share the same proportion of codebase, the features they deliver are quite different.

Magento Community provides the merchant with a vast quantity of products for free, as well as access to a community forum. This is a great advantage if you have in-house technical knowledge in Magento, if not a Magento web developer will be needed. Hosting will also need to be set up and paid for separately, as well as a domain name.

Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) offers professional support and reports for businesses to ensure everything runs smoothly. The Enterprise Edition costs from $18,000 USD (£13,727 GBP approx) per year (at the time of writing) and offers excellent customisation options, allowing users to set up an ecommerce store different to others in the industry.

If your business has a large catalogue with special requirements, or you wish to accept gift card payments or even offer private sales, this can all be done with Magento Enterprise. It also allows for more granular multiple admin levels and an easier to manage, more advanced system, enabling the creation of a seamless process from order to accounting to shipping.

Shopify Vs Magento: Verdict and Pricing Examples

Both are excellent ecommerce platforms, but are suited for different needs. In terms of usability Shopify is the clear winner, providing a product that is not only easy to use, but also a fully hosted and managed service – making it a more appropriate platform for small and growing businesses.

Magento on the other hand is a more powerful platform with complex features, suitable for larger online stores with big budgets to produce a more intricate online store. Stores managing thousands of products or stores with complicated marketing funnels will benefit from the Magento platform.

Pricing Structure Examples

A review of implementation costs are detailed in the tables below – these costs do not however include any development costs. The price of development in Magento is considerably more expensive than in Shopify and should be taken into consideration when making an evaluation of the two platforms.

Example: Small Ecommerce Website / Low Complexity

Description

Magento CE

Shopify Adv

Subscription Cost

0.00

£227.00

Support & Maintenance

£33.30

0.00

Hosting

£300.00

0.00

PCI Compliance

£25.00

0.00

SSL Certification

£16.00

0.00

CDN Costs

£20.00

0.00

TOTAL

£394.30

£227.00

 

Example: Large Ecommerce Website / Low Complexity

Description

Magento EE

Shopify Plus

Subscription Cost

£1130.00

£1510.00

Support & Maintenance

0.00

0.00

Hosting

£1000.00

0.00

PCI Compliance

£50.00

0.00

SSL Certification

£16.00

0.00

CDN Costs

£100.00

0.00

TOTAL

£2296.00

£1510.00

 

Example: Small Ecommerce Website / High Complexity

Description

Magento CE

Shopify Plus

Subscription Cost

0.00

£1510.00

Support & Maintenance

£33.30

0.00

Hosting

£300.00

0.00

PCI Compliance

£25.00

0.00

SSL Certification

£16.00

0.00

CDN Costs

£20.00

0.00

TOTAL

£394.30

£1510.00

 

Example: Large Ecommerce Website / High Complexity

Description

Magento EE

Shopify Plus

Subscription Cost

£1130.00

£1510.00

Support & Maintenance

0.00

0.00

Hosting

£1000.00

0.00

PCI Compliance

£50.00

0.00

SSL Certification

£16.00

0.00

CDN Costs

£100.00

0.00

TOTAL

£2296.00

£1510.00

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