As a small business owner, there’s probably a lot on your plate. If your business is entirely ecommerce, or if you’re just dipping a toe into this area, it can be hard to know which ecommerce platform to choose. Many people struggle with ﬁguring out which is better- Shopify or Magento?
These are the two most popular ecommerce platforms in North America, and represent a major portion of the international ecommerce market share. So far, Shopify alone has sold more than $135 billion worth of goods and services, and their market share only continues to grow. Magento is not far behind, growing at a rate of 0.8% a year, while Shopify sits slightly higher at 1.7%
While Shopify remains slightly more popular in the global market, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary better for your business. In 2015, Magento released version 2.0, which addressed many of the issues users had with the ﬁrst version. In June 2020, support for the original version of Magento will end, which means that forward-thinking businesses should have already switched their platform over.
Today we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of both Shopify and Magento, and what features they offer small business owners. We can’t make the decision for you, but we can help you with the research you need to make the best choice for your business.
When you sign up with Shopify, think of it as renting a storefront. You don’t have to deal with hosting your own platform, because they do that for you. You’ll pay a monthly fee, which ranges from $29/month up to $299/month (USD) for a feature-heavy account with up to 15 staff proﬁles. The smaller $29/month plan only permits two staff accounts, but like the rest of the plans offers 24/7 support.
Setting up Shopify and getting your online store up and running is easy. Instead of completely customizing every option, you can drag and drop different elements to build your store. You can also improve the functionality, responsiveness, and features of your storefront by installing apps from their app store.
If you have a great idea and just want to get your platform up and running right away, Shopify might be the way to go. It’s quick, intuitive, and takes care of a lot of the nittygritty details for you.
Most small business owners ﬁnd Shopify intuitive and easy to use. Plus, they have 24/7 support where you can ask questions at any time of the day. Most people setting up storefronts on Shopify ﬁnd it easy to install themes and apps, and make changes to their site on their own. In one study, Shopify scored a 4 out of 5 for ‘ease of use’.
With more than 70 themes to choose from, changing the appearance of your Shopify storefront is easy. There are a currently 8 free themes, with the rest priced around $180 USD. Themes range in style and layout, giving you lots of choices that can be altered when the needs of your business change.
Shopify boasts more than 2,400 add-ons and apps that can improve the functionality of your site. These apps range from simple currency converters to complex marketing integrations that offer custom insights that will help boost your connection with your customers.
Currently, the major cons that small business owners face when setting up with Shopify vs Magento is that there aren’t many advanced SEO features. This can make it a bit harder to get the insights you need to improve your search engine ranking.
Shopify also charges a transaction fee for every sale, which lowers as your monthly plan gets more expensive. The only way to get around this is to use their payment processor, Shopify Payments.
While Magento is currently responsible for less websites than Shopify, it has been used for more websites in the top 1 million most popular sites. This includes big names like Nike, Olympus, and Ghirardelli. Instead of hosting the site for you, Magento is actually open-source technology- meaning that if you have the know-how, you can set up your own site for almost nothing.
The downside is that most people do not have the technical ability to do this on their own, meaning that from day one, they’ll need at least one developer who is knowledgeable in Magento.
If you want to use Magento, you’ll need to provide your own hosting, which can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars a month. Since the technology is open source, the platform is extremely ﬂexible, allowing you to customize and change almost any aspect of your site.
The downside of this ﬂexibility is that getting your store up and running can take a while. If you know that your business will eventually scale quite large, you may want to take the time now and set up a site that can grow with you. Otherwise, you risk having to replatform at a later and more inconvenient time.
Magento is a fun challenge if you’re a developer. If you’re a regular small business owner without any development knowledge, you’ll need to hire a professional. This can seem like a huge barrier to entry, but it does allow you to get more custom features and dedicated expertise while you’re building an integral part of your business.
However, if you don’t have the funds to hire a good developer, it can be difﬁcult to get started on your own. There’s no 24/7 support, and to get a question answered, you’ll have to turn to the Magento user forums. These sites are full of helpful people, but getting the answer you need can take some digging.
Magento offers the opportunity to make your store do almost anything you can imagine. The platform is very ﬂexible, so if you can dream it, it’s likely that a qualiﬁed Magento developer can help you build it. If you don’t want to get that complicated, there are 17 pre-built themes available.
There are more than 5,800 apps and extensions available for Magento users, and the ﬂexibility of the platform gives you the opportunity to add almost any functionality you need. Many of these add-ons are free, but the majority are priced in the $33-99 USD range.
Overall, the downsides of Magento are that it’s quite complex, and has a steep learning curve for a beginner. However, the fact that you arrange your own hosting means that your business can grow as much as it needs to. This is great for businesses who know they’re going to get bigger, and want as many custom features as possible to support their growth.
Support can also be a challenge- if something goes wrong, it’s up to you and your team to ﬁx it.
Deciding between Shopify and Magento doesn’t need to be stressful. Before you pull the trigger on a platform, evaluate the needs of your business, both in the short-term and long-term. Based on that, you should have a good sense of whether using a simpler platform like Shopify is ideal for your small business, or whether you should really take the time to build out a more complex, customized Magento site from the beginning.
Only you can make this important decision for your business.
BUT of course, we’re happy to help 😉