Magento VS Shopify

jason

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Starting an online store is a difficult process that involves many costly decisions that may potentially affect your business negatively. Currently two big platforms for handling online stores are Magento and Shopify. So if you are debating between the two, look no further. Here you will find useful information that will aid you in your decision between the two platforms. In the following, I will go over the pros/cons and similarities/differences between these two platforms. After reading, you will be able to make your decision on which platform is right for your business.

Shopify is a quick and easy solution to building a website with a shopping cart. Here is an example of a free Shopify website. Shopify is built on the ideology of SaaS(Software as a Service), so they generate income based on how many people sign up and use their software. They have plans starting at $29/mo and up to $299/mo depending on functionality. The higher plans come with more features and reduced transaction fees, which are fees applied to every purchase that you, as the owner of the web store, incur (Magento also has transaction fees, which we’ll get to later). Shopify is geared more towards users who are not tech savvy, or startups who want something simple. It is likely better for businesses who are not planning on generating high volumes of sales or are not too worried about scalability.

Magento is a free, fairly complex and extremely robust open source software. This means you have complete control over your Magento installation and can freely modify anything on it. This allows Magento to suit most, if not all of your current and future needs. Depending on the complexity, some of these modifications may require a developer’s assistance. This open source software leads to huge numbers of developers creating both free and paid extensions or plugins that are compatible with it. If you need something done to your site like a one-page checkout, cloud zoom, or even a color swatch, chances are that someone has already made a plugin that you can purchase and install on your web store. Like Shopify, some of these are paid but there are also numerous free software that you can easily take advantage of. With an example being ebizmart’s mailchimp extension which easily integrates your Magento platform with mailchimp’s email marketing service.

Now that we have a general view of both platforms, we can go over the pros and cons of both.

Shopify

  • Pros: a. Extremely easy to set-up b. Get up and running quickly c. Friendly UI e. hosted-solution (site is hosted by shopify)
  • Cons: a. One storefront on one platform b. monthly fee c. Limited extensions d. Limited customization e. Hosted-solution(no FTP/SSH access to files to customize/make edits) f. requires extension for some out of box features like adding product reviews. g. limited staff accounts

Magento

  • Pros: a. Free b. Open Source c. Giant community of developers and support d. Scaleable e. Multiple storefronts / languages / currencies on one platform f. Versatile/Robust out of box features g. Unlimited admin accounts
  • Cons: a. Difficult to set-up b. Complexity c. Learning curve to fully utilize its features

So now the real question we should be answering is: “What about the costs?” Below are the general costs that you will see when first starting out with each platform. These costs will most likely increase based on your needs for additional features from extensions/apps.

Magento – Free

  • Extensions: Free, 1-time fees, reoccurring
  • Hosting: You will have to buy hosting which typically start around $10 and only increases based on your server needs. This means that you can shop around and find a hosting provider that is right for you and you will have full access to your files.

Shopify – Monthly cost – Basic $29, Middle $79, Advanced $299

  • Extensions: Free, Recurring
  • Hosting: Hosted solution you can NOT move your shopify site to another hosting. This also means no FTP/SSH access which in layman terms means you can not connect to your server to customize/make edits to your files.

First let’s diagnose the costs with Shopify. Picture us as a brick and mortar business venturing out into the world wide web. We have decent inventory size and want to make sure we have good records/reports of our sales and inventory so we settle for the $79/mo plan which includes these reports and accounts for maximum 5 staff members. This will add up to ~$950/yr.

Say we want additional features like the ability to bulk edit products in our inventory because our inventory is too big. This costs $15/mo. We also want to be able to manually set relationships between products to display related products. This will increase our costs by $7/mo. So this brings our total to ~$1,200/year. These are just two additional Shopify apps that a typical store owner may need. If we plan on our business surviving at least 5 years with this Shopify web store, our costs of this website has increased to ~$6,000. As your web presence grows, there will be a growing need to expand and further develop your website. Bottom Line: This means that these costs will continue to increase.

Now imagine if your online business booms, will you stay with Shopify because you already have an account with them, or will you find a more scalable software to meet your needs? If you decide on the latter, this means your costs will again increase because you have to rebuild your store on a new platform. If you decide on staying with Shopify, the bigger your store becomes, the more features you may need which again will keep increasing your monthly costs.

Shopify themes are also customizable to an extent. To successfully make edits to the look or add features that you can not find on their app store, you may have to hire a Shopify developer which will again increase costs.

Now let’s look at Magento. Magento is free for anyone to download and setup. Magento’s initial setup and deployment comes with no additional costs other than hosting. Magento requires hosting for you to have your store accessible on the world wide web which can start anywhere from ~$25/mo to a few hundred for a dedicated server Like Shopify, Magento also comes with a selection of free themes to choose from.0 Although these themes are free, they may contain a lot of bulk features that is not needed which will only slow down the website LShopify, Magento comes with a number of free website themes so selecting one will not be of any issue. It’s always better to utilize a custom design where you can choose what you need and eliminates features you don’t need

Like Shopify, there are both free and paid extensions. The majority of the advanced plugins require a eting the purchase. You are also able to freely make edits and configure the plugins to meet your custom needs.

Depending on your experience and technical knowledge, Magento’s initial cost can be as low as ~$120/yr. This assumes you perform all the tasks required to launching a Magento site yourself. However, if you hire someone to handle the whole process from designing, building, and deploying, the costs may seem steep but it is an investment that many people make because they see the value of it in the end. A typical user will not be able to set-up a Magento store as easily as a Shopify store but they will be able to reap the benefits and scalability that comes with a Magento platform.

Magento has a big number of out-of-box features that will help your business grow. It is the whole package and typically users will not need to have anything added-on because of its robustness. Magento’s admin panel might be daunting at first but after gaining experience, you will notice that it is well-organized and very responsive to your needs. It’s also fairly normal for a Magento user to have their developer’s phone number ready for any significant changes, while the owner themselves manages the orders and study the analytics of their store.

In conclusion, Magento is a powerful, free, open source software that will handle any business owner’s need for an online store. Shopify is quick and easy for someone to get their online store up. Magento insures scalability and efficient admin management of customers, orders and products. Shopify will ensure that you have a friendly and minimalistic admin panel. In the end, Ready Artwork chooses to build Magento websites because it guarantees our clients a powerful e-commerce store that will suit their needs.

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jason
Web Developer
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