Shopify v. Magento: Which is the best option?
Selecting the right e-commerce platform for your online store can be a critical factor in your business' success or failure. After creating your digital store, you'll frequently interact with your chosen e-commerce platform to manage and maintain your store. So, you must do your homework in finding the right platform for your needs.
Two of the biggest e-commerce platforms out there are Shopify and Magento. By choosing one of these two options, you're going with the classics that dominate the market. It's like choosing between Pepsi or Coke. You know you want one of these big guys and not the no-name brand option, but you have to figure out which you prefer. People have their reasons for choosing Pepsi, and others prefer Coke. Only you can decide what you like.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the pros and cons of each platform so you can decide which will better suit your needs. It's a truly partial third-party review of your options.
Despite some misconceptions, Magento and Shopify are not variations of the same product. The platforms have differing models, pricing, and programming languages. Each has its own set of unique positives, so you must understand the differences before making a choice.
And, after deciding which platform to go with, you can move onto hiring web design services.
A Brief History
Even though Shopify was created four years (2004) before Magento (2008), it was Magento who maintained the top spot in the e-commerce platform industry for many years. However, that has changed in the past couple of years, with Shopify taking a substantial leap ahead in popularity and capturing a significant chunk of the market share. In fact, Shopify is used for 20%
of the top one million sites, while Magento only holds 8% of the top one million sites.
Recently, Magento has released Magento 2, which many are praising to be the most superior product on the market.
Shopify is known as the user-friendly platform that just about anyone can understand.
Conversely, Magento is a more one-size-fits-all website builder, which appeals to a lot of customers. If you can figure out Magento, you can essentially make it work for you. (More about that later in this post.)
Chances are, if you're hiring website design services, the agency you hire will have both a Shopify web designer and a Magento web designer on staff. (Or, one person that can do both!) Your agency may also have valuable insight into what they think would be the best platform for you and why.
At Agency Jet, we work with both Shopify and Magento. We're always happy to give clients a recommendation for which e-commerce platform may be better for them, along with a detailed explanation as to why.
Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform. This means you don't have to worry about finding another hosting vendor for your store. This is a clear advantage for many users, as hosting is an additional cost and often comes with technical difficulties.
Magento, on the other hand, is an open source platform. This means that you will have to find a hosting vendor. While this is an additional cost, hosting isn't always expensive.
So, why would someone choose Magento when it's open source?
Open source isn't a bad thing! In fact, an open source e-commerce platform means you can create a completely customizable site (if you have the skills to do so). You can also hire an agency specializing in web design services for small businesses, so they can do it for you.
As you can see, there are pitfalls to both. On the one hand, Shopify is easier to use and you'll likely get the hang of it yourself. Conversely, Magento may be more effort up front but will allow you to have a website unlike anyone else! The personalized touch of Magento means a lot of bigger brands choose this option.
The open source comes into play when you look at Shopify versus Magento's coding options too. Shopify uses a coding language called Liquid, which is proprietary. On the other hand, Magento uses PHP, which is open source.
As Magento's open source PHP can be modified to fit any of your needs, it's much better suited for complicated stores. On the other hand, individuals with a simple store may find Shopify much easier to use and manage.
is a monthly subscription service, with three-tiers of options. Individuals can choose between the:
- Basic Plan $29.00 per month
- Standard Plan $79.00 per month
- Advanced Plan $299 per month
The more expensive plan you go with, the more add-ons you receive from Shopify. For example, the Basic Plan only comes with two staff accounts, while the Advanced comes with 15. Additionally, only the Advanced Plan comes with an advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates. If you're hiring an agency for your web design services and choose Shopify, it's best to consult with them what level of plan they think will match your store's needs.
Magento's open source software is free. However, Magento
has a significant price tag for its enterprise (Magento e-commerce) and cloud (Magento Commerce Cloud) versions. The cost is usually all upfront, typically several thousand dollars, for licensing. There's an extra cost for the cloud platform. Magento pricing varies for each customer based on their custom build.
Most likely, as a small or medium-sized business, you can simply opt for the free version of Magento. But, you'll be paying a cost for the hosting services and a Magento web designer.
It's important to note that Shopify charges a transaction fee for payments made through external payment vendors such as credit cards, Authorize.net, PayPal, and Braintree. The exact rate will depend on the plan you've selected.
- Basic Plan: 2.0% - 2.9% +$0.30
- Standard Plan: 1.0% - 2.6% + $0.30
- Advanced Plan: 0.5% - 2.4% + $0.30
Transaction fees don't apply for Shopify Payments or manual payments. Manual payments include bank deposits, checks, cash on delivery, test orders, and POS orders. However, most e-commerce websites need to have a convenient online payment option to be successful. So, it's essential to understand that you'll probably be losing a percentage of all or most of your sales to the platform by choosing Shopify.
In comparison, Magento doesn't charge a fee on transactions. However, Magento's complex coding means that you'll likely need to hire a website developer to set up, design, and manage your store. You'll probably need to keep this developer on contract as you won't have the capabilities to fix or edit your store on your own.
Looking at the Future and Growth
No one starts a business and hopes it'll stay small. Every entrepreneur has hopes that their business continues to scale and grow. So, you need to ensure you're choosing an e-commerce platform that can scale alongside your business.
Shopify is a user-friendly platform that will help you launch a simple website quickly. However, Magento is a clear winner when it comes to scalability. Magento's coding is much more customizable, so you can make changes to the store as your business changes.
An e-commerce platform won't give you the perfect website right from the start. You'll always have unique ideas and customizations that you'll want to add to your store. That's where third-party extensions come in. These extensions can add helpful features, tools, and attributes to your website to create a better user experience.
This is another area where Magento comes out as the clear winner. Currently, Magento 1 has thousands of available extensions and Magento 2 already has over 2,500 extensions.
In comparison, Shopify is far behind.
This comes down to the coding language. As Magento is an open source platform, anyone can come in and build a compatible extension to use.
Note, for both Shopify and Magento, extensions can be paid or free.
Your theme is the base of your website design. If you hire a website designer, they'll take your theme to the next level and make it customizable. So, themes are notable, to say the least.
Similar to the extensions, Magento has significantly more themes available than Shopify, as anyone can make a theme through the open source coding. Themes are both paid or free on both platforms.
While you have more options with Magento, these options can also be more complicated to use.
Both Magento and Shopify have varying SEO positives and negatives.
A significant portion of SEO is building content, including blogs.
Shopify has a built-in blog you can easily use for your e-commerce website. Magento, on the other hand, requires you to install a blog plugin.
On the other hand, Magento allows you to edit image alt tags. Image alt tags help Google to understand how to categorize an image on the image search platform. You can edit these tags to ensure that your images (and links to your site) show up for relevant keywords.
Magento also allows you to customize your URLs to help search engines find your pages more easily. This is a built-in feature and very helpful with SEO rankings.
Shopify will require you to download an extension that will allow you to edit page title and image alt tags.
Generally speaking, most users find that Shopify sites load faster and stay under the goal three-second load speed. Magento sites, especially on mobile, can often take longer than three seconds to load. 47% of customers
expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If your website has a slow page speed, it equals lost sales.
Magento sites can be fixed to be faster, it just often requires some diagnostic work and the installation of apps.
Who is the Winner?
Ultimately, you should look forward when deciding whether to choose Shopify or Magneto.
If you plan to stay small and eventually want to manage your website yourself, Shopify is the choice for you. It's user-friendly and has a shorter learning curve. You can hire a Shopify web designer initially but eventually take over once your store feels complete. This is an excellent choice if you don't expect to scale your operations vastly and if you're comfortable with Shopify taking a small part of your profits.
If you have big plans for your business, Magento might be the better option for you. Do you see yourself growing the business exponentially? Well, a Shopify store may not be able to handle the massive amounts of traffic you plan to have. Additionally, as your total sales increase, the amount going to Shopify grows and grows. Paying 2% on $200,000 in sales is easier to swallow than paying 2% on $2,000,000.
Magento will be an investment upfront. You'll have to hire a Magento web designer who can build you a personalized site. Additionally, you'll need to keep the web designer on contract. It's unlikely you'll be able to run a flourishing business and learn everything you need to know about your Magento website operations.
Agency Jet Offers Web Design Services for Small Businesses
Agency Jet is superior in providing Shopify and Magento web design services. Our team are experts at building sites on both platforms. Additionally, our extensive experience with both platforms allows us to provide useful insights to which may work best for your business. In our initial consultation, we can discuss your ultimate short-term and long-term goals for your businesses, as well as the vision for the website, and provide a professional recommendation on which platform will best suit your needs.
Agency Jet also offers web hosting and website management services, so you can leave your website in our capable hands. We will perform continuous testing and updates on your site to ensure you're ranking well for SEO, maintaining high page speeds, and optimizing for mobile.
Contact us today
to find out how we can help you build your dream e-commerce website.