Finding the right ecommerce solution for your site will make your life significantly easier when you’re creating, managing and maintaining your online store long term. It will affect the ease of use of management on your end, and it can determine what additional sales features are available to improve your customers’ experience, too.
It is not an exaggeration to say that choosing the right ecommerce platform can have an impact on whether or not your businesses successful or not.
So which ecommerce platform should you choose? Two of the biggest names out there are Shopify and Magento, both of which are excellent in their own way. In this post, we’ll compare Shopify vs. Magento, taking a look at each and what makes them unique, along with giving you some insight into which would be right for you.
What Are They?
Shopify and Magento are two different ecommerce platforms. Both allow you to build your online store’s website with their software. They both are well-equipped to help you manage your inventory and process sales and both give you the option to accept payments in a number of different ways with the help of add-on tools.
And, while we’re talking about add-ons, both platforms have these in spades. On Shopify they’re called “apps,” and they’re “extensions” on Magento, but they work similarly—they let you add new capabilities and features to your store ranging from UGC displays to automated accounting programs.
Both also come with a large number of both free and paid themes available and great SEO features, making it easy to set up your store well when first creating it.
Clearly, both platforms cover the basics well. That’s about where the similarities end, however, because both tools work in completely different ways.
How They Work:
Magento and Shopify tackle the same problem in two different ways.
Shopify is a paid subscription software that allows you to build, edit and manage a site with zero coding or design experience required. The interface is user-friendly, so everything from installing a Facebook pixel to uploading a new theme happens in just a few clicks and has a designated spot where you can make those changes. Even hosting happens through Shopify, so you can purchase and maintain a domain and hosting service through this ecommerce platform.
Magento, on the other hand, is an open-source community.
It’s free, but it isn’t quite as convenient as Shopify. You have to purchase your own domain and find your own hosting service, and you need to configure everything in your own in a way that will require more in-depth knowledge of site building and creation. If you decide to go with Magento, you’ll likely need to hire a website designer to take care of the set up for you. Still, for those who have the resources or abilities to make their own custom site, this may not be a bad thing.
How these two platforms work easily marks the biggest differences between the two, but let’s take a look at a few other key areas and see how they measure up against each other.
Basic Store Functionality & Management:
Both Magento and Shopify offer exceptional store functionality for both customers and sellers, and easy-to-use ongoing store management. This includes inventory management, which can be relatively automated on both platforms, making your life much easier. Ultimately both platforms are user-friendly and easy to maintain on a long-term basis, though Shopify’s may be slightly easier to learn up front.
When you’re considering inventory potential on ecommerce solutions, you don’t just want to look at the convenience of inventory management; you also need to take a look at exactly how big your inventory can be on the different platforms.
Shopify used to charge more for larger inventories, but as long as you invest in their Basic Shopify Plan (which costs $25 per month), you can upload an unlimited number of products to your inventory.
Thanks to the exceptional customization of Magento, you can also upload an unlimited number of products to your inventory. But, with large inventories, you run the risk of slowing down your site. Shopify is self-hosted, after all, so it’s equipped to handle your inventory; that’s not always true if you haven’t chosen the right hosting plan for the server, you’re using Magento on.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
Both Shopify and Magento have great SEO capabilities, especially if you’re using extra plugins and extensions to help in that department. I personally prefer Shopify’s SEO interface, which is automatically built into each site page (including product pages), but this is one department where both platforms really measure up well.
Add-Ons and Extensions:
Both Shopify and Magento have exceptional add-ons available for their respective platforms. While Magento does have the advantage in sheer number (its 5000+ extensions easily outnumber Shopify’s 100+ reviewed apps), number isn’t necessarily everything.
I’d put down money that you’d have a hard time thinking up an app that wasn’t yet available for Shopify users and the ease of installation—which often just takes a few clicks—is remarkable.
Magento comes out on top here in the number of apps, but overall, they’re typically easier to install on Shopify and there are more than enough apps there to give your store the functionality it needs.
Ease of Use & Customization:
When it comes to ease of use, Shopify sweeps Magento under the rug, easily. I have zero technical experience and I’ve even been able to set up gorgeous Shopify stores for clients in just a few hours that looked great and were all SEO-optimized.
If you’re worried that this convenience comes at a price, you don’t have to. There are still outstanding customization options available through Shopify. This includes advanced theme editors that allow you to change the visual look of your store quickly, even hiding sections you don’t want visible.
Customization through Magento, on the other hand, pretty much requires design and coding experience, even though its open source software provides the ultimate potential for customization. If you have the budget to invest in an expert to tackle this for you, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just know that you may need some help updating your site and maintaining it on a relatively regular basis, so it may be an ongoing investment instead of a one-off cost.
Other Miscellaneous Facts:
There are so many small details to consider when choosing between Shopify and Magento that it only makes sense to highlight a few of the miscellaneous details that can still make a difference in your decision. These include:
Both Shopify and Magento have discount code capabilities, allowing you to sell more with offers.
Shopify limits the number of staff accounts that can access your store. If you want more than two staff members to have their own accounts, you need to upgrade to the $79/month plan. In contrast, Magento is open-source, so there are no limits on staff accounts.
Both platforms give you the availability to attach a blog to your site, though doing this through Magento requires extensions.
Shopify stores are granted a free and immediate SSL certificates.
Shopify has stronger integrations, like the ability to create Shoppable Instagram posts through their platform.