Shopify vs. Magento: What You Need to Know

Shopify vs. Magento: What You Need to Know

We're looking 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 and today, 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.

Here's what you need to know to make an informed decision:

Shopify vs. Magento: Basic Overview  

Shopify — 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 — 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. 

Questions to ask when deciding which e-commerce platform is best for your business

When deciding between online platforms to build and manage your business, 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?

    You'll be able to give the above questions a work-out as we go into the pros and cons of each platform. Don't forget that you can also get in-touch to speak to one of our team!

    shopify vs magento useful infographic for deciding which platform is best

    Shopify vs. Magento: Pros and Cons 

    Let's look at the primary benefits and drawbacks of each platform. 

    One of the major ones to start with is complexity; Magento can be complex and difficult to use. If your coding and web development skills aren’t too shabby, you might be okay with Magento, but if you need someone to check for bugs every so often, that can get mighty expensive. Shopify on the other hand is designed to be easy to use and set up, even for those with little or no technical expertise.

    Here are some more pros and cons for each platform:

    Shopify Pros:

    • Range of responsive store themes
    • A comprehensive eCommerce builder
    • Quicker set up, easy to add pages and use
    • 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

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

    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.

    Magento vs. Shopify: Comparing Pricing 

    Unfortunately there is no simple or quick way to compare the pricing for Magento and Shopify. Each platform has different pricing models and total cost of Shopify and Magento will depend on the complexity of your website, the level of customisation and functionality you require, and any additional apps or services you may need. 

    Both offer a range of plans to meet the needs of different types of merchants.

    Shopify Pricing

    Shopify's pricing plans are based on a monthly subscription model. The Basic Shopify plan starts at $29 per month and includes features such as the ability to sell an unlimited number of products, access to Shopify's payment gateway, and abandoned cart recovery. The Shopify plan costs $79 per month and includes additional features (such as gift cards and professional reports). The Advanced Shopify plan, which costs $299 per month, includes even more advanced features such as advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates.

    In addition to these plans, Shopify also offers Shopify Plus, which is an enterprise-level plan, made for high-volume merchants. The pricing for Shopify Plus is customised based on the needs of the merchant. Find out more here.

    Magento Pricing

    As an open-source platform, Magento is free to download and use. However, merchants will need to pay for hosting, security, and any additional features or extensions that they want to add to their website (the cost of these additional items can vary widely, and the total cost of using Magento will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the merchant). If you want a precise estimate of pricing plans for Magento, you will need to contact a Magento development company.  

    Shopify vs. Magento Verdict: 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.

    Interested in switching from Magneto to Shopify? Ready to learn how you can scale your Shopify store? Book a quick chat with us.

    Book a chat with Rainy City Agency

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    James McManus

    James McManus

    Shopify Growth Consultant

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