Selecting the best eCommerce platform for building, managing and supporting an online store is important because it can spell the success or failure of your business. Deciding which type of eCommerce platform to go with is also an essential choice that small business owners need to make since they have to deal with a limited amount of resources and small budget.
For example, you are a Hong Kong business owner who plans to create an online store. Or you might have a current online store, and are planning to move your current store to another platform in the near future. If so, you will be choosing from a lot of eCommerce platforms available in the market. Shopify and Magento Community Edition (aka Magento) are two of the most widely used ecommerce hosted solutions today. However, they are very different and it is important to be aware of these fundamental differences before making a final decision.
Magento is a free, open source software while Shopify is a tool you need to pay for.
Shopify is a “hosted” platform which means that they will take care of the creation of your website for you.
Meanwhile, Magento will require you to provide your own hosting, installation, set-up and configuration. This task needs a medium to high level knowledge of web development and programming.
With these two differences in mind, you can find a more detailed comparison of these two solutions below.
Basic online store functionality
Both Shopify and Magento offer basic store functionalities that are reliable and easy to maintain. However, Shopify is more user-friendly and easier to set up than Magento.
Shopify has a “starter” plan (US$14/mo) which limits you to a maximum of 25 store items. Meanwhile, Magento offers less restrictions on the number of items. Don’t fret though! Other Shopify plans allow an unrestricted number of items to be added to your store. Keep in mind, however, that although Magento allows a virtually unlimited number of products, your host (server) performance and site loading speed might be reduced especially if you add too many products to your Magento store. But you don’t have to worry about this with Shopify since it is a fully managed and hosted solution.
Calculation of shipping charges
Both platforms make it possible to have flexible options for shipping charges calculation. This is one of the most basic and essential aspects of selling physical goods via an ecommerce store.
Coupons and discounts
Shopify has a big disadvantage when it comes to discounts. This feature is not available on their starter plan but it is offered on all the other plans. On the other hand, Magento allows the creation of discount codes and coupons.
Payment gateway options
In terms of payment gateways you may benefit more by using Shopify since it supports up to 70 payment gateways. Meanwhile, Magento offers support for a much lower number. More gateways, however, can be added to your Magento store via third-party add-ons.
Themes and templates
Both Shopify and Magento have a wide range of themes and templates so you can customize your online store with a look and feel that will suit your products and your taste. While Shopify may offer less free themes than Magento, these themes are generally more modern looking compared to the Magento themes.
Paid themes are offered by both platforms. However, Shopify is a more expensive choice since their premium themes start with US$80 per theme. On the other hand, Magento paid themes start at as a low as US$1.
Both platforms also offer a good number of responsive templates (ones that have designs that work well across a range of commonly used devices which people use to get online). These responsive templates are great because our world is increasingly becoming more interconnected via social media. There are free ones as well as paid.
Apps and add-ons
Magento may be a better choice here as it offers over 5000 apps and add-ons which you can use to enhance and expand the functionality of your online store. No doubt, this is due to the open-source, community driven nature of the platform. Meanwhile, there are only 100 apps available in Shopify. The pool of options offered by both platforms is a mix of free as well as paid-for applications.
Multilingual functionality is not available directly on Shopify. If you need to create a full multi-lingual store, third-party/paid apps are available for Shopify. Another option you can consider in Shopify is to custom-code your theme/templates with a simple or advanced interface. Magento offers built-in multi-lingual support.
Both platforms offer extensive SEO capabilities that allow you to drive more traffic into your store via search engines.
Shopify offers easy blogging functionality as an integrated feature. On the other hand, Magento does not have this feature on its own. You will need to use a plug-in. The upside is that this plug-in is free.
Both platforms offer a lot of customization capabilities through an advanced interface that allows you edit the raw HTML/CSS code directly. This will give you total control over the design of your store. However, as mentioned above, Shopify is a better choice because it provides a simple, menu based method. You can easily change the basic attributes of your store such as fonts, colors, etc. Magento is a bit tricky to use since it allows complete freedom with customization. So it can only be navigated by those with extensive web programming and HTML/CSS coding skills.
EASE OF USE
Shopify and Magento are both fairly powerful eCommerce Platforms and they come with user interfaces that are well-designed and thought of. Hong Kong enterprise owners can get their businesses up and running in no time!
Again, the advantages and disadvantages lie with the freedom both platforms offer. Shopify, though limited in options, is very user-friendly. It even has a wizard mode that allows even novice users set-up their stores step by step.
Magento, although it offers fewer restrictions to your options, is not a hosted solution, so building up your store with it requires processes that typical users would not find easy or convenient to do on their own.
Shopify does not charge any fees for set-up. They have a 14-day free trial wherein you can test and evaluate the functionality and features offered by their eCommerce hosting platform.
There are four different plans available in Shopify. These plans come with monthly fees ranging from US$14/mo to US$179/mo.
- Starter Plan: US$14/mo
- Basic Plan: US$29/mo
- Professional Plan: US$79/mo
- Unlimited Plan: US$179/mo
On the other hand, Magento requires your own hosting which can cost you anywhere from US$5 to US$100 dollars monthly. HostGator and BlueHost are two reliable, popular and inexpensive hosting providers you can purchase for your Magento store.
You don’t need to pay for any bandwidth fees with Shopify. Under Magento, however, this will depend on the hosting provider you used for hosting your store.
If you use Shopify, you won’t have to pay for any additional transaction fees if Shopify’s payment gateway is used. If you are using any other gateway (such as Cash On Delivery, for example), Shopify’s transaction fee structure will be as follows:
- Starter Plan ($14/mo): 2%
- Basic Plan ($29/mo): 1%
- Professional Plan ($79/mo): 1%
- Unlimited Plans ($179/mo.): 0%
Other than the gateway provider’s fees, Magento does not charge you for transaction fees.
There are plenty of free and unpaid themes available in both Shopify and Magento. Shopify and Magento premium theme prices start at US$80 and US$1 respectively.
Both Shopify and Magento are fairly powerful eCommerce hosted solutions but Shopify is simple to operate and more user friendly.
Magento, while free itself, requires you to purchase hosting and carry out all the software/system set-up and installation yourself. This will require you to have the technical skills and knowledge to properly set it up.
Both these platforms provide a similar set of features, and what platform to choose ultimately depends on your business needs.
If you own a small company and simply would like to setup an online store with some basic functionality the reduced complexity of Shopify will help you get your store off the ground as quickly and painlessly as possible.
If you envision your platform to have a wide range of features and you want to build not just a shopping cart but complete eCommerce platform where you can manage your orders, shipping and client’s feedbacks you should choose Magento. However, keep in mind that Magento will require substantially more configuration to get it into a usable state.
Where both of these systems fall short are when integrations with 1st or 3rd party software that goes beyond basic eCommerce functionality such as social platforms, digital media, and proprietary algorithmic content curation. Both systems have difficulty integrating functionality that is not inherently eCommerce functionality, as they process and display information based on established eCommerce processes and workflows. For example, if you would like your store to be a shopping experienced wrapped around a social media platform then Magento or Shopify would have a great deal of difficulty being tailored to exist a subsystem of the greater ecosystem.
No matter which you decide works best for your business, GreyLoud is experienced in delivering beautifully tailored experiences across all the platforms.