Each time an idea about new eCommerce store arises in one’s mind the first question to be decided is “How to build it?”. Despite the huge amount of various FAQs and articles about pros and cons of every eCommerce platform available, despite all ratings and reviews from industry pros, choosing between more than 60 solutions offered is tough. And the main reason is that as an entrepreneur you don’t care about ratings (or at least shouldn’t care), about tons of features you don’t need and you don’t give a damn about market share. The only question store owners care about is “Will it meet all my business needs?”. It’s not only about the features the eCommerce platform can offer. Price, scalability, support and lots of other nuances come into play.
We’ve already compared Magento with Opencart and Prestashop. Today we are going to cover the war of Titans. While Magento has been ruling the eCommerce world for a while, Shopify is the only contender that was able to steal up close enough.
There are two vital differences to know before we start:
- You need to pay for Shopify while Magento Community is free and open source
- Shopify hosts you store while Magento doesn’t. You need to handle hosting on your own side before building online store with Magento.
PriceShopify offers 4 different plans:
- Light: $9/mo
- Basic: $29/mo
- Pro: $79/mo
- Unlimited: $179/mo
Also there is Shopify Plus for a price of about $1000/mo, but we will discuss it a bit later. There are no setup fees for Shopify and they offer 14 days free trial. Magento doesn’t have any setup fees as well.
If using any other payment gateway rather than the one offered by Shopify, transaction fees are applied:
- Light: 2.9% + 30¢ for online; 2.7% + 0¢ for in person
- Basic: 2.9% + 30¢ for online; 2.7% + 0¢ for in person
- Pro: 2.6% + 30¢ for online; 2.4% + 0¢ for in person
- Unlimited: 2.4% + 30¢ for online; 2.2% + 0¢ for in person
The only transaction fees that may be applied in Magento are gateway provider fees (these fees would be applicable to Shopify in addition as well).
Magento offers more features out of the box and is more flexible and scalable in term of customization. However, Shopify offers much easier way to customize basic attributes of your store. While Magento offers unrestricted freedom in customization, it’s impossible to benefit from it without experienced programmer.
Both platforms are extremely SEO/SEM friendly. While other ecommerce platforms luck some SEO features and optimization options, Magento and Shopify go neck-to-neck and there’s no winner to claim.
When it comes to administration, Magento has much more to offer. Shopify functionality includes:
- Product import/export
- Stock control
- User access control
- Product control capabilities
- Multiple product types
- Attribute sets and unlimited attributes
- Conversion boosters such as up-sells, cross-sells and related products
- Extended customers’ accounts with orders & documents history, wishlist, tracking order and address book
- Powerful pricing & special offers management
- Customer segmentation with taxes and promotions based on segmentation
- Multi-website and multi-store functionality, product and attributes import/export
- Reports, statistics and integration with Google Analyitcs
- Deep stock control including backorders
- WYSIWYG editor and flexible content management
- SOAP and REST APIs
Despite such problems as “shoplift bug” which came to fore since early 2015 (which have been fixed few months ago with Magento security patch), Magento is famous for its high security level. Shopify meets all security requirements as well and invests a lot of time and effort in security of their users.
Ease of Use
As mentioned before, Shopify and Magento are both powerful ecommerce platforms. Both user interfaces are well-designed and allow any user to get up online store up and running easily.Shopify has a wizard mode that helps novice users to setup their stores.Magento doesn’t offer such feature and needs more technical background to implement advanced features and settings.
Shopify offers 24/7 support for each pricing plan, while only Magento Enterprise includes professional support. On the other hand, Magento already has a huge established active and eager to help community. However, Shopify community is growing very fast and it has all chances to catch up.
Magento Enterprise vs Shopify Plus
Both options are designed to meet “big players” needs. Magento Enterprise costs $17000 a year while Shopife Plus charges $995/mo. But $5000/year difference in price isn’t a decision making factor for big companies as additional features is what really matters.
There are few main benefits Shopify Plus offers over general pricing plans.
- No transaction fees. Of course, companies with million dollars turnover per month, don’t want to give away 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction as it’s significant sum of money.
- Account manager. This is a very useful addon as companies don’t always have the time or resources to solve all of urgent problems operatively.
- Same Domain Checkout. Normally Shopify redirects shoppers to checkout under a Shopify web domain.
- Unlimited sales, bandwidth and products
- Advanced API
Sure, such benefits sound great, but Magento Community offers everything except dedicated account manager by default. While including such features by default, Magento Enterprise offer such benefits as:
- Private sales
- Wholesale, and gift registries modules
- Customer segmentation with targeted offers
- Minimum advertised price
- Return management authorization
- Full page cache
- Professional support
and much more.
Disadvantages of both platforms
- difficult to customize for non-tech savvy
- development and support a professional online store requires experienced developers
- heavy PHP code
- takes some time to get used to
- monthly subscription fees
- website data is not 100% controlled by the business owner
- limited customizability
- primitive content management system
- template language called Liquid is not familiar to many developers
Both platforms are market leaders and, as we said at the beginning, the final decision depends on one’s business needs. Deciding on Shopify vs Magento, keep in mind that Magento offers more features out the box, is more scalable and customizable, while Shopify is way easier to get familiar with and easier to start an online store in short terms.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this blog post or anything else related to Magento, please feel free to drop me a message via this form. I am on the team performing Magento development for large Magento projects.