Building an ecommerce website can be a cakewalk, but only when you have chosen an ecommerce CMS (content management system) which is reliable, scalable, easy-to-customize and, above all becomes a partner in your growth. Most startups and mid-size companies oscillate between two popular platforms – Shopify and Magento for their online store requirements. Tailor-made for such stores, millions of webmasters use these software for their ecommerce needs.
Both platforms help merchants earn money online in an easy and professional way. However, choosing between the two is a challenging job for anyone – as each of the solutions is replete with pros and cons. Shopify is a smart choice for small enterprises or startup e-stores which do not need to operate with, say, 500 000 SKUs (stock keeping units) and which do not need to implement additional customizations, support coupons, sales, and discount codes, etc. On the other hand, Magento is a perfect solution for professionals as well as growing mid-size enterprises that aspire to scale up and empower their facilities. While it gives them freedom, it requires professional assistance as well as high quality hardware.
Freedom vs Simplicity
Both ecommerce platforms have fundamental differences which might or might not fit your business requirements. It calls for careful assessment of the requirements of your organization and benefits or risks associated with both the platforms. One of the posts on Eltrino.com defines the two ecommerce platforms in the best way ever. It says, “Comparing Magento and Shopify is similar to making a choice between complicated freedom and limited simplicity.”
Understanding the fundamental differences between Shopify and Magento before making a comparative evaluation of the two is important. Hence it is worth having a thorough look at which solution is the more optimal choice for you. Next, it is important to closely examine all essential aspects such as pricing, support, functions/features, management, marketing, and design, etc.
Cost of the Two Systems
Drawing pricing comparisons between the two systems is difficult as both operate in different schemes and are poles apart in serving the ecommerce needs.
Shopify: Shopify offers four different plans with monthly fees in the range of 9$ to 299$
The lowest $9/month option is for you if you already own a site on which you want to utilize Shopify’s buy now buttons, or create a Facebook store. This can be a good option but with limited functionality and is not scalable unless you upgrade. Shopify’s more pricing details are available here.
Magento: Magento Community Edition (CE) is a free version that can be freely downloaded by anyone. And since it is open-source, it can even be developed or modified. But as development and modification is not everyone’s cup of tea, it can only be done by professional developers. Also, it lacks the unique design, tailor-made for a specific corporate image, and has no pre-set, country-specific individual configuration(such as delivery and payment settings, system e-mails, confirmations depending on language, specific functionalities, and so on). Nevertheless, Magento also comes as an Enterprise Edition, which offers greater possibilities and is good for building a stronger online store. However it comes at a whopping cost which might be unaffordable for many startups and growing businesses. Even then, it is a good solution for mid-size fast growing enterprises as it serves their growing needs with its flexible as well as scalable functionality.
Support for the Platforms
Customer support is available for Shopify users whereas it is not readily available for Magento users. That said more precisely, in the case of Magento, support is provided by the huge, committed community that continuously tests, develops, and improves the open-source code system. One needs to have the patience and courage to trust this community.
Besides, there are professional development firms that specifically work on the Magento systems and provide support. You can turn to such professional development companies to provide support and development. You can also choose a hosting partner who offers support for Magento in-house.
If one does not have the appropriate resources to find support for the Magento platform, Shopify is a simpler solution that offers 24/7 support.
Handling and Managing the Systems
Compared to Shopify, Magento is a significantly complex system. But its administrative interface ensures loads of possibilities to customize everything which is not possible with Shopify. Shopify, in general, may be more easily installed and handled daily but is bound by limitations.
For example, with Shopify, you can include a total of only 25 products under the basic starter pack. There are four packs with progressively increasing monthly fees. The numbers might not be sufficient for a mid-size enterprise. But with Magento CE, which is free, you can include an unlimited number of products in the system from scratch. However, it would be only if you have enough background capacity (bandwidth, speed, storage, hosting etc.). Magento also allows you to freely shape the products, change their appearance, and assign any kind of categories and attributes to them thereby customizing the framework as per your products.
The Design Element
One of the commonalities between the two is the availability of a mass of free templates. These templates allow you to create and enhance the image of your online store. Both systems are responsive and appear on mobile phones just as nicely as on desktop computers.
Aesthetically, the free themes offered by Shopify perform a little better, but their advantage shows rather in their simpler installation. Because of the fundamentally simpler user interface of Shopify, its appearance is easier to shape than that of Magento, even though a lot of free templates (and even more commercial ones) are available for Magento also. With Magento, the developer support is required to enhance the looks of the online store and improve upon overall features, whereas Shopify offers ready-to-use designs appropriate for startups and small business owners.
And the Bottom Line is…
If you’ve got someone technical in-house, and/or are planning to hire one for this position, Magento can be your best bet. If you’re small and are on the lookout for a plug-and-play solution, Shopify is probably a better fit. From a brick-and-mortar perspective, you need to consider growth and hang out with a platform that helps you to customize and operate from multiple locations. Shopify is capable of growing with your business to a certain extent, beyond that, you might need another system like Magento for further growth and expansion. A platform like Magento will help you to leverage more complex features and increase shopper frequency as well as average order value.