Shopify vs. Magento: What You Need to Know

Shopify vs. Magento: What You Need to Know

In this comprehensive study, we look at the major differences between Shopify and Magento, helping you decide which is right for your business.

With a range of eCommerce platforms to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start. Making the right call for your business right now will save you time, money, and effort further down the line. Two of the leading contenders in the eCommerce platform arena are Shopify and Magento. Our clients often ask which is better for them, and the answer (as you might expect) is it entirely depends on your business and future objectives.

If you’re looking to make an informed decision, here’s what you need to know about Shopify and Magento.

Shopify vs. Magento: Defined

Shopify is a hosted all-in-one eCommerce platform (known as SaaS or Software as a Service). In other words, you don’t need to worry about sorting out your hosting, website security, or updating the software – this is all taken care of for you within your pricing.

Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform (known as PaaS or Platform as a Service). This means it’s free to download and use. However, you will be responsible for integrating your server, registering your domain name, arranging web hosting, fixing errors, and maintaining updates and your site’s security.

Shopify vs. Magento: Questions to ask

When deciding between platforms, you’ll want to consider your website strategy (in essence: how your digital presence relates to your business goals). By answering these questions, you can start to feel for what platform might best suit your business and your customers.

  1. Is this your first eCommerce website?
  2. Will you be building the site yourself?
  3. After set-up, are you looking to make changes yourself?
  4. How is your PHP coding? Have you the time to learn?
  5. Are you happy with a pre-made store theme?
  6. Is cost or time a primary concern?
  7. Do you need to start selling immediately?
  8. Do you require tailor-made APIs or digital functionalities?
  9. How important is digital scalability to your business?
  10. Do you understand the basics of website security?

Shopify vs. Magento: Under the Hood

We’ll start by looking at what are the primary benefits and drawbacks of each platform. This is the perfect time to give your answers to the above questions a work-out. For example, if your coding and web development skills aren’t too shabby, Magento might work for you. But if you need someone to check for bugs every so often, that can get mighty expensive.

Shopify Pros:

  • Range of responsive store themes
  • A comprehensive eCommerce builder
  • Quicker set up, easy to add pages
  • Great app store for extending the functionality of your website
  • Supportive customer service
  • High Security: PCI Level 1 Compliance
  • Lots of checkout and payment options
  • Excellent automation (e.g., shipping services)
  • A large community of supportive users

Shopify Cons:

  • Most themes have a price attached to them
  • Apps can become expensive if not utilized correctly
  • Some apps can require developer knowledge
  • Complexities of integrating apps into stores
  • There’s a fee for every transaction (unless using Shopify payments)

Magento Pros:

  • Open source and free to use
  • Great range of themes to choose from
  • Few limitations (if you know how to code)
  • Excellent community with support for users
  • Flexible platform with lots of customization
  • Phone support and chatbot available

Magento Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve
  • Higher costs associated with programming
  • Security based on developer’s ability
  • Requires a developer knowledge of PHP
  • Difficult for beginners
  • Time-heavy in set-up
  • Can prove difficult to make changes yourself

Magento vs. Shopify: Comparing Features

1. Site creation & maintenance

Whatever you choose, you’ll be glad to know that both platforms provide powerful store functionalities (themes, fonts, shopping carts, etc.).

Where Shopify is often easier to set up due to simplified in-house personalization features, Magento features high customization capabilities due to the open-source code. This can also prove a drawback, as it makes it necessary to hire experienced developers to build and maintain your online store.

2. Product management

When it comes to inventory management, you want to have something in place to help you do more in less time. Both Shopify and Magento offer unlimited products in your store and provide the standard features you’d expect.

Magento offers greater capabilities if you’re looking for total inventory management (e.g., multiple warehouse management, out-of-stock thresholds). This requires more time and more coding, and therefore greater development costs. You’ll also need more powerful servers because of large amounts of CSS and JavaScript for these additions. Shopify is a fully managed and hosted solution; it proves a more straightforward option for those who don’t require such advanced configurability.

3. Performance & Scalability

With eCommerce becoming the increasingly popular method of shopping, a common issue is sites experiencing sudden surges in traffic. Magento and Shopify provide a range of incredibly scalable options; it just depends on your site objectives. With the correct setup, hosting, and continued support, Magento can prove fast with little downtime – but that’s your developers’ responsibility. Shopify takes care of the setup but charges transaction fees on your purchase; these are reduced depending on your type of plan.

4. Security

One of the major concerns our clients have is site security. With Magento, your store is only as secure as your developers make it. You’ll have to ensure your site is PCI compliant – especially with plug-ins. If security vulnerabilities or bugs are found, it’s up to the plug-in creator to fix which can cost you time and effort to replace them. As Shopify is a SaaS (software as a Service), security comes as standard – meeting all six categories of PCI compliance. This takes the responsibility of site security off your shoulders and onto Shopify.

READ: Shopify vs. WooCommerce: What You Need to Know

Shopify vs. Magento: The Winner?

We’re sorry to be fence-sitters, but it ultimately depends on your business needs, store requirements, and customers. The definite catch with Magento is the cost of time and money associated with development and maintenance. If you’re looking for simplicity that lets your products do the talking, Shopify is a great choice.

Ready to switch from Magneto to Shopify? Or scale your Shopify store? Book a quick chat with us below


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