Shopify vs Magento Community Edition
Which Is The Best Technology For Your Business?
You should take to finding the right eCommerce platform for your business, do thorough research and speak to other store owners. Don’t just jump straight in and start working on the first eCommerce system you see. In this article, we explain some of the differences between Shopify and Magento but before you go off and use either of these systems there are other eCommerce systems you can use such as BigCommerce, WooCommerce (with WordPress), PrestaShop and OpenCart. We will be creating similar articles shortly to help you decide.
It is particularly important for small businesses, who have limited funds, that they choose the right eCommerce system and don’t get hit with unexpected maintenance and running costs. It is equally as important to discuss your future eCommerce plans with your web development agency, or who-ever you are getting to build your eCommerce website, of what functionality you want for the website.
For any new business who is thinking of starting an online store two eCommerce systems which are worth considering are Shopify and Magento, both are widely used and have large communities of support and development agencies. What this means is that if you get a company to create you a Shopify or Magento store and you end up falling out with them for one reason or another there are plenty of other development companies out there who can help you. You will not be tied to using them.
Shopify & Magento – two completely different eCommerce platforms
Shopify and Magento are completely different platforms. From the outside, they both do the same but underneath they are totally different and they have different costings associated with them. You should be aware of the on-going costs to both technologies before you start your online store.
Shopify is very much a user-friendly system and you don’t need to have bundles of technology skills to be able to setup your store. In-fact, store owners can start selling online within the hour or maybe even sooner for some. Magento is different and requires a level of expertise to setup hosting and installation. Magento is an Open Source platform which means it is free to download but you will need to pay for hosting, which for some larger stores the cost can be quite expensive as the system requires a lot of resources. Setting up and configuring Magento will require some knowledge of databases and server technologies which will take time, even for seasoned professionals. With Shopify, there is nothing to download and you will not require any hosting either as it is a hosted solution. Once you sign up and start using Shopify it is very simple to use and setup.
With both ecommerce systems, you should consider the functionality, what themes and extensions are available. Here is a head-to-head comparison between Shopify and Magento:
The bare system of Magento will lack functionality and it will require programming. It will not come with a theme or template so you will need to search for one. There are some websites available which don’t charge for a theme but they can lack the style and design you desire for your store. You will also need to modules to give your site some function. Magento modules, which give your site some functionality, can be quite expensive and the more functionality you require the more it will cost. This may be a problem for smaller businesses who don’t have much funds or have just a small budget to spend. A good Magento developer can cost somewhere in the region of £50 to £90 per hour so it can be quite expensive (these are just ballpark costings, there will be Magento development agencies who charge more and some which will charge less). If you purchase a Magento module you will need a developer to install it for you and to style it so it looks nice. Sometimes when you install modules it can cause the site to break so you should setup a test environment where you can install modules and test things out. This will increase your hosting charges.
Shopify or Magento – which one will you choose?
Shopify is different and there is nothing to setup. The basic system can lack the functionality you need. If you have complex requirements it might be worth trialing Shopify before you fully commit. To give the site the functionality you require you are able to install Shopify apps. There are many great apps available in the Shopify store. You pay for these monthly, not upfront. Installation is just a few clicks too. The charge will be added to your monthly plan. Shopify, without doubt, is easier to setup.
The starter plan on Shopify limits you to just 25 products in your store but the Magento Community edition offers store owners unlimited number of items. If you are planning to develop your store and introduce more lines then there will be other costs and you will need to upgrade. As mentioned earlier, you will need to host your Magento store, so the more products you add the more resources you will need so please consider this. If you don’t upgrade your web hosting or have the right hosting package then you could run the risk of your website running slow, which will only frustrate your visitor and they will probably just end up leaving and going to a competitor.
For stores which require calculated shipping costs, both platforms provide options for delivery charges and calculations, which is needed to run an online store.
Both Shopify and Magento are great eCommerce platforms
If you are looking to offer discount codes and coupons then you will need to upgrade your Shopify plan as their basic package doesn’t offer this function. However, if you are looking at Magento it provides this with their Community Edition. Magento is perhaps a little more advanced here.
Magento and Shopify have large communities and there many themes and templates available to give your store the look and feel which you want. Both platforms integrate into many payment gateways. Shopify might just have the edge here and they even offer their own payment gateway too, but be aware that it can take a few days for you to get paid (this may change by the time you read this).
Both platforms have responsive themes and templates, meaning that your store can be viewed on mobile and tablet devices as well as desktop machines. There are possibly more premium themes available with Magento because the application has been running for longer. Over time this may change as Shopify becomes even more popular.
Magento and Shopify both have full SEO capabilities so you can drive traffic to your store and encourage organic traffic from the search engines. Both systems have the same level of capabilities here and no one system is better than the other.
Adding blog posts and pages, Shopify wins here. Magento doesn’t allow for blogging and it requires an installation of WordPress to add blog posts. This will incur additional development costs. Any store looking to drive organic traffic will require blogging functionality. Adding pages on Magento and Shopify is quite simple though. But if you are a keen blogger, or have a marketing department who like to update your blog, then this is worth noting.
Customising, both Magento and Shopify offer the ability to customise the design and look if you need to change anything to the CSS code. This is particularly handy if you want to change any font, colours or general appearance of your store.
Ease of use:
Shopify is much easier to use and operate. Their dashboard is simple and straightforward to navigate. Magento has many options in the back-end of the system and to someone who has no user experience, this can comes across as quite complicated. Adding products to both systems is though easy, setting up categories is a little fiddly on Shopify and they refer to them as collections.
Both systems have an import functionality available so if you migrating from another system they both allow you to upload products from a csv file, which is most welcomed for store owners.
There is no setup cost for Shopify and they even offer a free no obligation 14-day trial too allowing you to evaluate their systems to see if it is right for your business and what you are wanting to achieve. Shopify charges a monthly fee for their service, charges can be found here. Their charges include maintenance and hosting.
With Magento you will need to host your site and maintain it, this means when the core product and any of your modules are updated you will need to update them. If you don’t update them then your site could become infected and hacked so it’s quite important that it is kept up to date. But their software is free to download and use (Community Edition) so there is no setup fee to pay unless you use a development company. You can get started using Magento here.
As Shopify host their systems they also fully maintain and update their code, this is done by Shopify and not the user. With Magento, they will provide patches and updates on their core product but the modules and extensions will need to be updated by the vendor. If they don’t keep their code up to date then you do have security risks with Magento. Therefore it is recommended that you use extensions that are kept up to date and paid for too. By having an out of date extension you run the risk of being compromised which could seriously damage your reputation and turn clients away, another article will be written about why you should maintain your website and have a maintenance contract.
Both systems are powerful eCommerce platforms with a good set of features available. Shopify is perhaps easier to use and is quicker to setup, is hosted and is a fully managed service. You don’t need any technical knowledge to setup a Shopify store, just basic web skills.
Magento is free to download but requires technical knowledge to setup. Hosting, maintenance and general housekeeping of a Magento store can be quite ‘resource hungry’ and the general user might struggle to use get started with Magento. It also requires training to create and manage a store due to its complexity.
Shopify offers better security options as it’s a hosted solution so the worries of hacking and being compromised are their problems, not the store owners. There are no maintenance costs with Shopify whereas Magento there will be. The cost can depend on the update, how long it takes and if the developer experiences any compatibility issues. If you are a business which employs its own web developer then there will be no additional charges so to speak.
We would recommend that for smaller stores to use Shopify and for larger stores look to use Magento but both could provide you with some great benefits.