By Morgan Nimmons on Jul 12, 2016 9:30:00 AM
We can all agree that eCommerce is a booming business. In fact, it is predicted that the amount of customers browsing and buying online will reach 270 million by the year 2020. Prospective entrepreneurs can fulfill their dreams of opening an online store for a lesser cost of what it takes to construct a brick and mortar store.
So, which eCommerce platform should you choose to set up your online store?
To answer that question, we’ll compare two popular platforms, Magento and Shopify. The main points we will cover are pricing, customization, options for small businesses, integration options and try before you buy.
Shopify has quite a few pricing tiers depending on the size of your online store, but there is no limit to how many items you can have in your store for any of the plans. The Basic Shopify plan is $29/month and it is a good fit for brand new businesses. This plan allows two user accounts and excludes gift cards, professional reports, abandoned cart recovery, advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping.
The Shopify plan allows 5 user accounts and only excludes advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping at $79/month.
At $299/month, the Advanced Shopify plan comes with all the bells and whistles and provides 15 user accounts.
The three main plans have credit card rates, allowing online Shopify payments in addition to in person purchases with Shopify POS for your mobile devices. There are two other plans, Shopify Lite for selling strictly on Facebook and Shopify Plus for enterprise grade businesses.
Magento’s pricing is a lot higher, at $18,000/year (roughly $1,500/month) for the Enterprise plan but prices can vary. There is a free option with Magento’s Community Edition which caters to developers and small businesses but doesn’t offer any support. Magento also has a cloud edition of its Enterprise plan.
Part of the reason why Magento is a bit pricier is it’s more accustomed to larger companies and it is a downloadable software unlike with Shopify where everything is done online.
In comparison to Shopify, Magento is a huge platform that offers extensive features that would require investing a lot of time to learn it all. It is also expected that users be tech savvy if they plan on modifying their store themselves. There is the option of allowing Magento to provide a developer to customize your store but that can get pricey.
Users can choose from templates and extensions to enhance their store. When selecting a Magento store template, it’s important to note that there are responsive themes optimized for mobile and themes that aren’t which require adding a mobile app extension.
Shopify is very user friendly, as in you don’t need to be a developer to navigate it. All of Shopify’s 100+ themes are mobile commerce ready making it easier for users to shop using a mobile device and operating your store on the go via smart phone makes managing an eCommerce store tremendously convenient.
There are several store management features in Shopify such as: customer profiles, email templates, customer accounts, refunds, order fulfillment along with many others. These features allow Shopify store owners to learn more about their customers and stay better connected.
Options for Small Businesses
Shopify is THE platform for small eCommerce stores just starting out because of its reasonable prices, unlimited products for any plan and user-friendly customization. Additionally, there are no additional web hosting or startup fees. Shopify can grow with your business and works well for businesses of any size.
Magento is often used by large businesses but the Community Edition plan is the better choice for smaller-sized companies since it’s more affordable. Other options for small businesses are Magento’s partner solutions such as Zoey (U.S.) and Blugento (Germany). Both are SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions and are hosted platforms that use Magento features and are easier for non-developers to operate.
ECommerce integration with other backend solutions such as ERP can be accomplished with either platform, however from our experience Magento is a bit more challenging to integrate than Shopify. The reason for this is it has a more complicated API because it is so customizable. Shopify’s API is richer in comparison, making the integration process easier.
You may also like: 4 Signs it's Time to Integrate Your eCommerce and ERP Software
Try Before You Buy
Shopify offers a 14 day free trial before purchasing without having to enter any credit card information. In the case of Magento, not only does it not provide a free trial (at least not one visible on the site), the website isn’t very transparent about prices or features without having to talk to a specialist or schedule a demo.
Another way to research more about any platform is to check out their blog. Shopify has an ecommerce, sales and Shopify Plus blog that provides information about software updates and gives insights on entrepreneurship, best practices when setting up an ecommerce store, success stories and PDF guides.
Magento also has a blog that offers tips on eCommerce but a great portion of their posts are about Magento’s features and events. In our opinion, their content is more sales orientated rather than offering best practices to their customers.
Which eCommerce Platform is Better?
Determining which platform to set up your eCommerce store on all depends on the size of your business, budget, features you’re looking for and the amount of development skills you have. A small ecommerce store on a small budget is perfect for Shopify. It requires no coding experience (although templates are HTML and CSS customizable) and is managed online via computer or smartphone.
If your business has more money to work with, a larger inventory and is greater in personnel, then Magento might be the platform for you. However, make sure to have a developer on your team or be prepared to invest in one provided by Magento.
Both platforms have their perks and setbacks so it is crucial to try out the platforms or talk to a representative from each company before making a final decision.